Set amongst the mountain flanks of Lake Cascade, Idaho, a couple hours drive north of Boise, Tamarack is a diamond in the rough. As the newest all-season ski resort in North America, it was slated for success, until the recession hit in 2008. Unlike established areas, it couldn’t weather the storm, and was left in limbo. Several years later, and lot’s of hard work by passionate local skiers, Tamarack is rising from the ashes and focusing on an independent ski area experience in an era of corporate ski resort takeovers.
“I first arrived at Tamarack back in 2016 and looked at it for the first time. It was such a good mountain with lots of potential,” says Director of Skiing (and former Warren Miller film regular), Jon Reveal. “The village was in suspended animation. You could walk in a room and there was a cutting platform with sawdust and a set of plans. There was no one around. It was like somebody blew a whistle and said out of the pool, and picked up their tools and left.”
Prior to Reveal’s arrival, the team at Tamarack, or the “Tam Fam ” as he affectionately refers to them, were responsible for making sure the ski area didn’t turn into a ghost town. “There was a small group of homeowners [and employees] here, and several people who wanted to take over the operation,” he says. The homeowner’s association eventually developed enough equity and purchased the ski area. Then in 2018, a new ownership group came along, with a vision to complete the resort and expand its potential further, while maintaining the sense of community the resort was founded on.
Tamarack’s extremely accessible from Boise, but you’ll forget the city is anywhere nearby as you approach the slopes tucked away into the mountainside. As you rise 2,800 feet to the top of Tamarack Summit, sitting at 7,700 feet, you might be shocked how uncrowded it is. The resort receives an average of 300 inches of annual snowfall and has a well balanced mix of terrain with ski-able acres lining north and south of the summit ridgeline. In addition to excellent skiing ,Tamarack is a four-season resort, meaning there is no shortage of activities for the whole family. Your non-downhill loving cohorts can take up nordic skiing, fat biking, yoga or ice fishing. You may even be tempted to take a day off from the slopes yourself to enjoy the full range of fun Tamarack has to offer.
After a long day on the slopes or in the outdoors, Tamarack’s newly completed village has a small town relaxed feel to wind down in. Currently the resort has a three-condo village community, with a new fourth to be added shortly. They range from simple no frill studios to more elaborate suites —all of which make jumping on the slopes incredibly easy. In addition, the resort also has hundreds of other slopeside homes, cottages, townhomes and chalets. There are several options for dining between The Reserve, a popular spot that offers fine dining in the evening, to local pizza joint, Crusty’s Pizza and burgers at Triple B Diner. The Village Market has all the essentials for those who prefer to do their own cooking, or want a night in with a bottle of wine.
Today, Tamarack is in the midst of an environmental review which would add 3,300 acres of skiable terrain to the resort landscape. It’s a development that many are eager for, especially since the region has shifted to prioritize outdoor recreation and tourism. The expansion will add beginner to expert terrain without requiring skiers to cross each other on the downslopes. There are also plans to expand the waterfront marina on the lake and add a world-class golf course, both set to be completed by summer 2023, further positioning Tamarack as a must visit year round destination.
Reveal notes that in the 70’s, skiing even with its high-profile celebrities always had a sense of community. “At the Hotel Jerome Bar in Aspen everyone was at the same level whether you were Kurt Douglas or a liftie… They became part of the community and their actions were shaped by where they lived.” That sense of community seems to be missing in a lot of the exclusive locales of late, and Tamarack taps back into that community ski resort feel again. “The Tam Fam is a real viable existence and the people coming here are interested in skiing and becoming friends with everyone belonging to the community.” Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?