Schweitzer: Idaho’s Gem!

The Western part of the United States becomes a hot spot during the winter months. There are numerous ski resorts here and among them is Schweitzer Mountain Resort. It is located in the Bonner County about 11 miles or 18 kilometers in the north-west of Sandpoint (northern Idaho) within the Selkirk Mountains. Towards the south-east of the resort, you will find it overlooking Lake Pend Oreille along with imposing visages of Bitterroot and Cabinet Mountain ranges forming the backdrop. This beautiful ski area is located quite close to the borders of the United States and Canada, about 45 miles or 72 kilometers to be precise.

Schweitzer Statistics

Base Elevation: 4000 feet

Summit Elevation: 6400 feet

Vertical Drop: 2400 feet

Summit elevation at the Schweitzer Mountain measures about 6,400 feet or 1,951 meters above the sea level. The vertical drop from this height is about 2,440 feet or 744 meters. There are 90 + runs at the resort of varied difficulty levels and open bowls. Little Blue Ridge measuring 1.7 miles or 2.7 kilometers is the longest run that you will find here. The approximate skiable area is 12 kilometers square or 2,900 acres. Further, on an annual basis the resort receives over 300 inches or 760 sentiments worth of snowfall. At any given day the resort uphill lifts are capable of handling as many as 12,502 passengers on an hourly basis. To accommodate this kind of traffic there are 7 modern chairlifts which compose of one high speed six ask, 2 high-speed quads, a single fixed grip triple and 3 traditional doubles. Along with these lifts, there are 3 surface tows which serve the terrain.


Schweitzer Mountain Resort has had a considerable humble beginning. Schweitzer Mountain is the name by which the peak is known. Interestingly, the name Schweitzer was, in fact, that of a hermit who was once a part of the Swiss military. As the story goes, an investigation was conducted with reference to missing local cats. Their bodies were discovered in the hermit’s abode. The local legend grew as per which the hermit every once in a while enjoyed a cat stew. Now, due to this incidence, Mr Schweitzer as he was formally known, was sent to the asylum and left for the pages of history. It just so happened that his name remained and the mountain was christened after him.

Skiing for the first time is said to have begun here in the year 1933. It wasn’t really organized at that point in time and the region happened to be more arbitrarily governed. Formally, the ski area was opened for public almost 30 years later in the form of Schweitzer Basin. It was the fall of 1963 when Schweitzer Basin ultimately came to life. However, it was not easy. Upon further investigation, it was realized that all of this was made possible due to the persistent efforts of a certain Dr Jack Fowler of Spokane. He was otherwise an avid skier and frequented the Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. All the distance did not quite agree with him and in the later 1950s, he began looking for closer alternatives. He then happened to notice the various snow-laden mountains on his numerous trips. Upon discovering the perfect powder and potential rich terrain, the easier part seemed to have been dealt with. All that he required now was some support and of course capital.

Eventually, adequate resources were generated and the opening day was set to be on December the 4th of that year. The resort commenced its operations with a lodge which was located 4,700 feet or 1,433 meters above the sea level and a double chairlift which could then cover a distance of 1.6 kilometers. This chairlift generated a vertical drop of 1,700 feet or 518 meters. About a month later a T-bar lift was added.

Schweitzer proved to be a good investment as it began generating profits right from the very beginning. Its promoters initially were quite apprehensive and therefore had only decided to operate it during the weekends. However, looking at the net popularity and appreciation that Schweitzer had received they decided to remain open for 7 days a week. By the end of the fourth season, the number of visitors in total had reached 55,000 which were the highest. Looking at the constant inflow of customers the installation of another T-bar lift was finished in 1965 along with 3 chair lifts. These chairlifts bore quite the familiar names – Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. These chairlifts were added three years later in 1968. A couple of years later, massive re-developmental initiatives concluded. By the time it was 1971 two more chairlifts were added along with a smaller version of the original lodge, the Out Back Inn. A new restaurant at the base, a 36 unit lodge for the overnight stay along with a 20 unit condominium building was constructed in 1972. The only thing that could so to say, complete the resort was the approaching road. It was paved in 1973 and also in 1974 the 7th chairlift was added.

Now, the ownership structure of Schweitzer was such that it had hundreds of stakeholders and due to this reason the first two decades did not quite see any formal profit. However, one of the co-founders, a certain Jim Brown, Jr. who was otherwise from Sandpoint and the owner of a sawmill. He is responsible for taking the resort private in the early 1980s. In the latter half of the same decade, summer chairlifts were introduced and the ski area was renamed as – Schweitzer Mountain Resort. The same year rental services for various sporting activities commenced. They included hiking trails and mountain biking rentals.

Schweitzer took a different turn when Brown died in 1989. His daughter came through and took charge of the business. It was under her guidance that Schweitzer Mountain Resort changed rather nuanced its image as a destination resort. The early 1990s saw numerous additions and improvements the benefits of which can be seen today. Among the popular changes that came about included the construction of an all new Headquarter Day Lodge, installation of a detachable quad chairlift along with lightings for night time skiing. Another lodge, the massive 82 room, Green Gables Lodge was constructed in the following season. Schweitzer today features as one of the best-known skiing destinations and its name is often among the best-known resorts in the country as listed by various popular magazines. It has also been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades over the year.

By the end of the 90s, Schweitzer saw financial mismanagement which further resulted in it being declared bankrupt in 1998. However, the spirit of the company and what it represented along with all the pride and heritage that banked upon it – all these tendencies made a Seattle-based company – Harbor Properties purchase the resort. Numerous modifications were undertaken, lodges were changed and the number 5 chairlift was replaced with a six-speed Stella. After the conclusion of the changes, the new acreage was pegged at 2500 acres or 10-kilometer square.

Things were going well until 2005, July when the resort again changed hands. Further, this time it was solely owned by the McCaw Investment Group, another Seattle-based company. In February 2007 an ambitious expansion program was undertaken. It heavily focused on modernising the lift services and development of the mountain.

With all the developmental projects and initiatives finalised, the village area of Schweitzer currently has two of the top-notch condominium hotels. They are the Selkirk Lodge and the White Pine Lodge. In these ultra modern facilities, you will find traditional rooms along with kitchenettes and bunk-beds and 2 to 4 bedroom units laden with full kitchens and lofts respectively. There options available for private residential facilities and also for regular day lodging.

The Schweitzer resort offers seasonal passes and discounted packages, and the details of which you can find either on their websites or by simply giving them a call. They will at all times be at your service with a smile. A further incentive could be this, well, for this you rather will have to be in the category of those who are about to get married and still struggling with the location/destination. How about getting married in the snow? There is indeed nothing like it. Schweitzer also will be able to provide you with this option. Now, in this regard if you are looking for quotes, give them a call immediately, slots here get over quite soon.

Statistical details

  • Ski season: Almost each year Schweitzer commences operation from early December and closes by early to mid-April.
  • Timing: Schweitzer operates sharp from 9:00 in the morning to 3:30 pm in the afternoon on a daily basis.
  • Area: The total skiable area is 2900 acres and contains 92 trails and an open bowl skiing facility.
  • Snowfall: On an average, Schweitzer receives 300 inches of snow each year.
  • Twilight Skiing: The Basin Express and the Musical Chairs are the lifts that will take you to the twilight skiing area. Usually, one is allowed to ski between 3 and 7 pm. As far as the dates are concerned, they are subject to weather conditions and change each year. Keep your eyes and ears open for the latest updates.
  • Tubing: Here at Schweitzer Mountain Resort the tubing centre is known as Hermits Hollow and offers two chutes and one tow.


Village Elevation: The main village is located at a height of 4,700 feet or 1,433 meters.

Summit Elevation: The top most point at the resort can be reached by the Great Escape Quad and is at a height of 6,400 feet or about 1,951 meters.

Bottom Lift Elevation: The base of the resort is at a height of 3,960 feet or 1,207 meters and there is the Outback Inn, a lodge which is located here.

Vertical Feet: The vertical drop is 2,440 feet or 744 meters.

The Terrain & Snow

Snowfall: Annually, the resort receives about 300 inches or760 centimeters worth of snowfall each year.

Terrain: The 2,900 acres or 12 kilometer square of skiable area at Schweitzer can be divided in the following ways:

o    10% beginners

o    40% intermediate

o    35% advanced

o    15% expert

During summer time the area offers about 40 km or 25 miles worth of hiking and biking trails.

Current Lifts

Chair 1:    Basin Express – Doppelmayr CTEC High-Speed Detachable Quad – (2007) – lower portion of former Chair One

Chair 2: Musical Chairs – Riblet Fixed Grip Double – (1968, moved to its present location in 1990)

Chair 3: Great Escape – Lift Engineering/Doppelmayr High-Speed Detachable Quad – (1990, retrofitted in 1997)

Chair 4: Sunnyside – Riblet Fixed Grip Double – (1968)

Chair 5: Stella – Garaventa CTEC High-Speed Detachable Six-Pack – (2000)

Chair 6: Snow Ghost – Riblet Fixed Grip Double (1971, moved to its present location in 1988)

7: Idyle-Our – Doppelmayr CTEC T-Bar (2005)

8: Musical Carpet – Sunkid Magic Carpet (2005)

9: Happy Trails – Handle Tow (the 1990s, moved to its present location in 2005)

The Activity Center

When it comes to getting latest information pertaining to dinner reservations, rentals, events and generally any other thing you can get all of that and much more at the Schweitzer Activity Center.

This facility is located close to the Selkirk Lodge and the Chimney Rock restaurant. It is the one-stop solution for a verity of things and activities that you can engage with at the mountain. This facility remains open every day between 8 am and 4 pm during the winter months.

Now, if you are wondering about the things that you can find here, then check out the following list:

Village Campfires

Typically Saturday afternoons 3pm on the Lakeview Patio is the setting for the village campfire. You can come along with your friends or dear ones and cozy up to cups of hot chocolate and wintery tales. The resort will also offer freshly prepared roasts to its customers who are there, of-course till the supplies last. Now, this is a one of a kind experience which is rarer than the rare. Make sure that you experience this at least once.

Selkirk Theater

On a usually day when you get tired from all the skiing and hiking you can then come and relax at the Selkirk Movie Theater. They project as many as three complimentary movies daily. This theatre remains unsupervised and is 100 % family friendly. It is located in the lobby area of Selkirk Lodge. The theatre can be accessed by anyone on the mountain. The show timings are as follows: daily at 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm. You can get details about the movies right at the Activity Center.

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Now, if you are looking for absolute fun you can stop by the Activity Center with your own cameras. The resort guarantees that it will not be like your usual scavenger hunt, so do not waste even a minute and head there fully charged.

The Great Beer Blast

Come here for some for some adult beverage fun. This does mean that people over the age of 21 years are allowed to attend this event. This kind activity involves a beer scavenger hunt further enabling exploration of multiple locations on the hill and in the village area. You can get all the sorts of details at the activity center.

Treasure Hunt

This is the best and the most awaited event at the mountain. Interestingly, the first clue of the treasure hunt can be found at the Activity Center itself. People are known to be quite enthusiastic about this treasure hunt event.


This involves a larger set of activities. You are offered tasks through which you can express your inner creative genius. People of all age groups can participate in all these activities.

Weekend Kids Crafts

As the name suggests, all activates under this category are meant for children alone. Moreover, if you want your kids to participate in the most exciting arts and craft events then get them here at 1:30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Kids can learn to yarn bug puppets, cookie decoration, treasure hunt, among others. The ticket prices for kids are as low as $ 2 per child, per day. Your kids can sign up right at the activity centre.

Board Games, Hula Hoops, and Books

Now, if you are here at the resort in groups or with your family or just want to hang out by yourselves, in that case, the resort will also offer you various equipment or games to facilitate your needs.

Party Pails

The Activity Center has a whole range of options be it for outdoor or indoor activities. Now, some of you might want to have fun right in your rooms or condos. Well, Schweitzer can also take care of theta. The resort offers themed party pails such as Nintendo Wii, Indoor Energy Busters, or Craft Time. Prices of the equipments may vary.

Chapel Services

At the Schweitzer Chapel, both Catholics and Protestants can serve the lord. Here at the chapel, you are also provided with dormitories as well as a space for hosting retreats throughout the year.

Sandpoint Dining and Shopping Information

Even if are planning to head downhill into Sandpoint, you can consult the Activity Center and get yourself a customized trip planned. While standing at the facility you will be able to glance through the restaurants and hotel services.

Awards and recognition

  • 2007 Skiing Magazine Reader Resort Survey – awarded Schweitzer with the rank of # 21 in the country.
  • 2007 Skiing Magazine Reader Resort Survey also awarded the # 3 spot to Schweitzer in the USA for Tree Skiing.
  • The Inlander Reader’s Poll, 13 years running – awarded the resort with the title of the “Best Resort in the Inland Northwest”.
  • Sunset Magazine, Dec. 2003 awarded the resort with the title of – Big Slopes and small-town charm at Northern Idaho’s up-and-coming resort.
  • SKI Magazine, October 2008 issue awarded the resort with the position of # 3 in the USA for Lifts.
  • Skiing Magazine – October 2008 awarded the resort with the title of – Best Place to Ditch the Crowds.

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