by Emilio Trampuz (Nov. 2004)
(Updated, Dec. 2005)
Why just ski at one resort day after day, when we can
explore a new place every day?! We are blessed with well over 30 ski areas
within driving distance, and that's just counting Oregon, Washington, Idaho
and British Columbia. You could add to this number the 12 ski areas
around Lake Tahoe, and the 10 ski areas around Salt Lake City (because Lake
Tahoe is only 10 hours away, while Salt Lake City is a 12 hour drive).
So, over 50 ski areas are within reach! How many of these have you
skied? See map below.
In fact, you could even add a few more resorts in Alberta and Montana (Big
Sky is within a day's drive), ... and you could be skiing a different area
every day for 2 months!
But, let's do them a few at a time! See
About a dozen of us got into our cars and carpool
and caravaned up north, first into Canada, and later into Idaho, for 2
separate "ski safaris", Idaho (in 2004/2005) and Canada. for 4
years in a row (from 2004 though 2006). And we might continue do it again (or
something similar, or improved version) in the coming yeas! It's an informal
"trip". It's an adventure. It's fun!
It will be very affordable, since we'll share the cost
of gas, and the cost of lodging. At the end of each day, we'll drive on to
the next area, exploring a new place each day! We are lucky to live in
the Pacific Northwest, where there are dozens of great ski resorts, all
within a day's drive! See map below!
Any number of people will do, but 3 people per car
seems to be a perfect number. Conversation flows well with 3 people.
Two might be too few, and 4 might be too many, since there's always the
possibility that 2 conversations might be going on simultaneously -
somewhat interfering with each other and competing with the road noise.
We'll use portable radios and/or cell-phones to communicate between the
Some people may prefer the flexibility of having their own car. Others
may like to carpool, either just for the sake of company, or because
they might not have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, which is a good choice when
you travel into the mountains hundreds of miles away from home in the winter.
Some people, especially couples, may prefer a room of their own.
Others might consider sharing a room between 3 or even 4 people, to make
the trip really affordable.
Around Thanksgiving, or early December. 5 - 6 days
See map below. We'll follow I-5 up, and Hwy. 97 down.
Day 0. (evening) Leave Portland around 5 pm (or as soon as possible after
Drive abt. 4 hrs. to Bellingham.
Day 1. Ski Mt. Baker, then drive abt. 5 hrs to Sun
Day 2. Ski Sun Peaks then drive 2.5 hrs to
Day 3. Ski Silver Star then drive 2 hrs to Big
Day 4. Ski Big White then drive 2 hrs to Apex.
Day 5. Ski Apex. This is where we separate
into 3 groups:
a) Stop skiing around noon, drive 10 hrs. to
b) Ski all day, then drive 4 hours to Red
Mountain, and later Schweitzer; or:
c) Ski all day, then drive 4 hours to Wenatchee
Day 6. Ski Mission Ridge
Ski till abt. 3 pm,
then drive abt. 5 - 6 hours to Portland.
day 6 is optional, assuming you choose option 5c above.
For more detail, including hotels, see the
Canada ski safari
page (large PDF file)!
UPDATE (After the trip)
Lift tickets were free! This certainly made
the trip affordable. Snow was aplenty!
Phil and Emilio spent only
$208.68 for all lodging and transportation (gas) for 5 days
skiing & 6 nights lodging. This included Mt. Baker. Most
nights, it was just the two of us in a room. One day,
the expenses were shared between 4 people, and on another two days the
cost was divided by 3 (as we paired up with other people, who later went
in a different directions).
Bruce and Linda spent about $275 per person for
4 days/4 nights.
Bob and Gail spent only $149 per person for 4
days and 4 nights. This was thanks to the fact they opted to stay in a
hostel (right within the mountain village) at Big White and Apex.
As you see, the cost differed, depending on the choice of accommodation
and the number of people that the lodging was shared with. Still,
it was a great deal for all of us!
Idaho Ski Safari (Schweitzer
We planned for this in February 2005,
but there was no snow in one of the driest winters in recent memory.
But, we could do something like this in the winter of 2005/2006.
Total of 4 days.
We could either park ourselves at Schweitzer for 2 or 3 days, or we
could ski Schweitzer one day and Silver Mountain (Idaho) another day.
Maybe even a third day at Mt. Spokane.
Unfortunately, there is no ski area located exactly in the middle
between Portland and Schweitzer Mountain, so it is not quite as easy to
break the trip into two legs. But here's a couple of possible ways of
Day 0. Leave after work.
Drive up to Alpental/Snoqualmie (abt. 4 hours) or White Pass
(3 hrs), with the intention of skiing there the next day.
Alternatively: If you
can leave Portland early enough (say, by 3:00 pm), you could drive all
the way to Spokane or even Schweitzer.
Day 1. Ski at Alpental/Snoqualmie or
White Pass. Then drive to Idaho. Stay the night at either
Sandpoint or the Schweitzer mountain village.
Day 2. Ski Schweitzer Mountain.
Then either stay for one more night, or drive 1.7 hours to Kellogg,
Idaho (which is right next to Silver Mountain).
Day 3. Ski Schweitzer or
Silver Star (depending on the above choice), but maybe
stop skiing by abt. 3 pm, and then either:
a) drive straight home (abt. 7 hours); or
b) drive west along I-90, to Ellensburg (to ski Alpental/Snoqualmie); or
c) drive east along I-90 to Yakima (to ski at White Pass); or
d) drive south, toward Pendleton (to ski Spout Springs, OR or
Day 4. In the morning, drive another hour and
ski either: Alpental/Snoqualmie, or White Pass,
or Spout Springs or Bluewood.
After another full day of skiing, it's a 4-hour drive home from Alpental/Snoqualmie,
or a 3-hour drive from White Pass, or about 4.5 hours from Spout Springs
To join any of these ski safaris, just email us at
NOTE: For those of you who may actually count the number of little skiers on
this map, you'll find 32 within the 4 States, plus Mt. Shasta in California,
making it 33, plus Lake Louise and Sunshine Village in Alberta, making a
total of 35. But the total number of ski resorts in this area is even
greater, because several have not been shown. For example:
* Mt. Hood really consists of 3 or 5 ski areas (if you count Summit and
* Ski Bluewood, near Walla Walla in Washington is not shown;
* Warner Canyon, near Klamath Falls, Oregon, is not shown;
* Loup Loup and Badger Mt. ski areas, north of Wenatchee, are not shown;
* Alpental and Snoqualmie could be counted as 2 ski areas;
* Vancouver, B.C. has 3 ski areas in its neighborhood, of which only Grouse
Mt. is shown; the other two are Cypress Bowl and Mt. Seymour.
* Norquay ski area, near Banff, is not shown.
ALSO WITHIN A SINGLE DAY DRIVE:
* Abt. 10 ski areas in Utah. You can drive to Salt Lake City in about
* Abt. 12 ski areas in the Lake Tahoe area, California. It's only a 10 hour
drive, with a couple of convenient places to break the journey half-way (at
Mt. Ashland or Mt. Shasta).
* At least 3 more ski areas in Montana (Big Mountain, Big Sky, Bridger
Bowl). Yes, you can get as far as Big Sky and Yellowstone Park in a single
When you add up all of the above, we have over 60 ski areas within a day's
WHAT A BOUNTY?! ENJOY IT! IF YOU DON'T SKI IT THIS YEAR, YOU'LL
JUST BE A YEAR OLDER WHEN YOU DO! (Thanks, Warren Miller,
for this insightful statement!)