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Ski Both Idaho and Montana at Lookout Pass

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By Heather Burke, Boston.com Correspondent

Sometimes I discover ski resorts that I can’t wait to tell other skiers about, but then I hesitate to share the stash. Lookout Pass is one of those places.

On the Idaho Montana border, this cool ski area gets lots of snow, dry and light, and has skiing off all sides of its modest scenic 5,650’ summit. The liftees and locals at Lookout are super friendly. In fact, they might be calling you by name by midday if you make enough runs to get their recognition.

As the name implies, Lookout Pass is at the top of a mountain pass on the Continental Divide along I-90 (between Spokane and Missoula). It’s a real deal with $40 lift tickets. Lookout is humble and has been since 1936 – which is old for a western ski area.

Classic double chairlifts climb methodically up the three-sided mountain, spreading out the few skiers and contributing to the mellow homey vibe here. Lookout’s front face is called the Idaho side – with beautiful groomed trails like Gold, Silver, and Copper, a centerpiece terrain park and some playful glades.

Skiing off Lookout’s back you are on the Montana side, skiing long well-pitched runs like Keystone and Cloud 9. You don’t need to change your watch from Pacific to Mountain time as you cross state lines. Lookout’s Northside, back in Idaho, delivers steeper runs like Purgatory and Hercules, with well protected soft natural snow.

Lookout gets the most snow in Idaho -- 400 inches annually -- in its unique mountain pass locale. Powder days here must be outstanding. Lookout Pass is worth checking out. It's rustic but really fun -- reminding me of Homewood in Lake Tahoe, Grand Targhee in Wyoming, and Saddleback in Maine.

Lookout’s 1941 base lodge is cool too. It's the second oldest lodge in the Pacific Northwest built by the CCC, following Timberline Lodge in Oregon. Be sure to have a local brew in the Loft Pub while surrounded by ski memorabilia and lore as well as a view of Lookout’s slopes.

But don’t tell them Heather sent you – they know me by name now and I should have kept the place a secret.

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By Heather Burke, Lookout Pass Photos by Greg Burke

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