Written by: Dara Barney | Edited by: Tucker Barney
When someone tells you to, “GET LOST!” about 45 minutes outside of Salmon, ID, go ahead and think twice. It might not be an insult, because tucked back 1/8 of a mile off of Highways 93 and 43 at the Montana/Idaho border, a hidden ski resort treasure sits, waiting for your arrival. So what are you waiting for? Come “GET LOST” at Lost Trail Powder Mountain, 90 miles south of Missoula.
According to its website, this gem has been opened for more than 76 years. The mountain is opened four days a week, starting in December, with very reasonably-priced lift tickets and 60-plus trails on two mountains, measuring out to 1,800 acres.
Visit Montana’s website highlights the mountain as a mecca for backcountry, cross-country and downhill skiing. But that isn’t all. Snowboarders are welcome, and telemarketers too. 20 percent of the trails cater to beginners, 60 percent to intermediate, and 20 percent to experts. Although there is no half-pipe, a terrain park and vertical drop of 1,800 feet might take your breath away. Base elevation sits at 6,400 feet, and up top? A beautiful view of the Bitterroot and Rocky Mountain ranges at 8,200 feet.
Not interested in a one-hit ski wonder?
As recent news coverage heats up with Doug Fish’s brainchild, the Indy Pass, the monster all-access ski ticket might be in your future. Fish Marketing has worked to develop the pass, which covers you for 72 days at 36 resorts, for $199! If you consider yourself hardcore, that might be a financially responsible option — and a great excuse for a ski resort tour across the U.S.
A sports snow school, along with equipment rentals and repairs are available for beginners to the advanced looking for a bigger challenge to conquer. Cold Smoke, an event not for the weak at heart, takes place in the spring, where “cliffs, powder, kickers,” and “tree lines,” greet competitors as they blast down the hill. Awards are presented at the end to applaud the best of the best.
Leave the next event to the ladies, if you please: Girls on Shred! Takes place in the spring too, with discounted tickets for the sporty females of the group, and live music/raffles.
Ever wanted to ski with ski patrol?!
Lost Trail offered a day in the spring of last year to accompany its ski patrol members down the hill. You need to have your emergency response qualifications in order and up-to-date, and be at an intermediate-to-advanced ski or snowboard level. If you end up loving it, it looks like an opportunity to learn what it is like to work for the mountain, with family ski passes and an adventurous career choice as benefits.
The ski patrol is built up with an all-volunteer crew of more than 55 members, according to the mountain’s website. “The LTSP volunteers work together as a team, where each member is recognized for their own unique skill sets. LTSP members are friendly, supportive and promote the family-oriented atmosphere that Lost Trail is so well known for. Because of this approach, many of our patrollers continue to serve well beyond their 20-30 years of on-the-hill volunteer experience. In addition, during the off-season, LTSPers frequently volunteer their first-aid expertise for local Triathlons and other community-oriented outdoor sporting events.” So you can bet you have a great backup if you are in a compromising situation on the hill.
Lost Trail boasts five double chairs and three rope tows, and the option to trek out to one of its yurts for a fancy dinner après-skiing. Nothing like a little chicken alfredo and tiramisu to carb-load for the next ski run.
If you are going to stay, have a few bites, and make a vacation out of it, there are plenty of lodging options available as well. The closest? A group of Ridge Line Yurts sits .5 miles away from the mountain. Looking for something a little swankier? The Bitterroot River Ranch is more of a lodge setting, serving breakfast to its guests year-round, at 15 miles from the mountain.
Two shuttles are also available to get to and from the mountain for people staying locally. Car rentals are also an option.
According to OnTheSnow, this mountain receives 3/5 stars overall, with lower marks for its terrain park and higher ratings for value and beginner/intermediate skiers. One commenter wrote, “Favorite place to ski in Western Montana,” with five stars last spring.
A little history lesson: Lost Trail was noted in Lewis and Clark’s explorations, according to Discovering Lewis & Clark. Rumor has it that the crew may have been lost at this point in their journey, and might have camped near where the mountain is located. Clark wrote about intense terrain and eating grouse to survive. “After U.S. Highway 93… was completed in the 1930s, the gap through which the highway crosses the Bitterroot Divide was named Lost Trail Pass at the urging of a local rancher who was well acquainted with the Lewis and Clark journals,” per the website.
The season, which ran from December to April of last year, came in at 29 feet of snow, according to the mountain’s website. Make sure to “GET LOST” this season, and add this resort to your list, especially if you want to fully immerse yourself in the wonder of the new Indy Pass, and what the U.S. has to offer for ultimate ski destinations.