Written by Dara Barney | Edited by Natalie Mussotto
When some hear about Idaho, they might confuse it for Iowa, or ask about its potatoes. But, when anyone familiar with the Northwest hears word about the state, they aren’t thinking about flippin’ French fries. While Brundage Mountain Ski Resort might have a tasty side dish offering for carbo-loading mid-ski day, it also has almost 2,000 acres of terrain calling your name for some powder, and maybe potatoes too.
I remember my grandfather summoning all of the cousins on cold, dark mornings with one of his musical numbers to get us out of bed and onto the hill in McCall, about 20 minutes away from Brundy. We would all slog out of bed, throw our bibs on and load up the rig for many snow experiences people might dream about. That is what growing up in the Northwest is about. Full on homemade oatmeal and adrenaline, we coasted down the slopes until hunger panged our bodies once again and we could scarf down some salty, perfectly crispy fries and hot chocolate that was so hot it made my brother grab his ears with a gulp bigger than intended.
I want to share these experiences with anyone ready to indulge in sweet, sweet snow as a skier or boarder. Brundage has six lifts, with 51 trails at 20 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate, and 30 percent at advanced ski levels, according to its website.
Let’s talk pricing for a moment. If you have $199 burning a hole in your pocket this ski season, check out the Indy Pass, which opens up more than 40 resorts around the U.S. to peruse at your leisure this year.
McCall is located about two hours from Boise, Idaho’s capital. Access to Boise by plane or car is pretty easy, then enjoy the two-hour beautiful drive from Boise to McCall alongside mountains and rivers that seem to be out of the latest “Frozen” movie. McCall has so many great places to eat and stay, and one of its most popular haunts, the Pancake House, might be another carbo-load option, as it boasts pancakes as big as your head.
Multiple hotels are available at all sorts of price levels. Whitetail will deliver a Disney-esque resort experience at a higher price point, while multiple lower rate fares at places like the Holiday Inn Express are available too.
But let’s get back to business, Brundage business. The Front Side of the mountain is home to the main lodge, and many run options at different skill levels. The Lakeview Bowl, which closes earlier in the day, has more runs offered up for exploration. Beartopia has fun for the whole family at more beginner levels. Snow Cat Adventures are also offered for those looking for a more intense experience, per the resort’s website.
Backcountry skiing with lift access is a big part of the culture as well. Heed the warnings, be aware of your surroundings, and get into it! If you need a gear hookup, rentals are available as well.
Rated 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor.com out of 157 reviews, people are talking about this must-hit resort.
“Brundage is in McCall, Idaho, and since the only population center anywhere close is Boise, only locals ski there during the week, which is great for us. No lift lines, and if it snows in town, there is new powder on the slopes. Even on weekends and holidays, there aren’t a lot of people there, especially if you compare it to the big resorts in Utah and Montana,” according to local joeweiss13.
Jammer, Bear Progression Park and Freestyle Terrain are available for those looking to trick in the terrain as well.
“One of the best powder hills in the Northwest — Nevermind the unbeatable view from Oregon to Montana. Brundage has a north face to keep the snow dry for days. The underbrush is cleared so the whole mountain is skiable. Hidden Valley is really special with its steep powder chutes and steep drops. I used to make the trek from the U of I (University of Idaho) on weekends in the 80s for a five dollar lift ticket. They’ve entered the big leagues with $70 tix, but find another secluded gem like this with a high-speed lift. Also, special thanks to the lifties from Peru. Hope you’re back next year,” wrote Karey W. of Spokane, WA.
After attacking some of what the hill has to offer, isn’t it time for a beer?! Smoky’s Bar and Grill is where it is at! Multiple brews are available on tap, with great pub food available for those looking for a bite.
There you have it folks, a little piece of a treasure my family has valued more than any actual gold or silver for decades. We look forward to visiting family in the area every year, and calling out our powder-hound “AAAAAAOOOOOOOOHHHH,” to each other, signaling a connection or alert to where we are all located once we get to the top of the hill.
Don’t miss out on views that will make you look twice (or more) when you glide off the lift and get to it! Greet the fog if it must hit the slopes; it might just be signaling a snowstorm. But, if the views are clear, the pristine lakes below will also be a sight you can’t miss from McCall. Get your own mountain call (or steal our “AAAAAOOOOOHHH”) and crew together for some I-D-A-H-O fun you’ll never forget. Pancakes and powder are waiting…. and yes, a few potatoes too.