This hidden gem in Southern Idaho has powder worth traveling for.
Family owned and operated, Pomerelle Mountain Resort may be small but it is big on nostalgia and snow totals. That combination ends up making for a perfect powdery day of snowboarding.
Due to its size and remote location in Southern Idaho, Pomerelle has flown under the radar. Many skiers and snowboarders head for larger flashier resorts, but Pomerelle remains beloved by locals and powderhounds who put in the effort to reach the wide open slopes.
Pomerelle’s manageable 500-acres of gentle terrain make it a wonderful learning environment. Naturally, the ski school has always been an integral part of the mountain, bringing in as many as 600 students to learn from 100 instructors, even back in the early days. Area school children enjoyed one day of skiing every week as part of their winter curriculum. (Talk about recess goals.)
The ski school focus doesn’t mean there aren’t fun trails for intermediate and expert riders to explore at Pomerelle, though. The Southern Idaho ski resort receives 500 inches of dry powdery snow on average annually, and all abilities can have a rip-roaring good ride on these slopes. When I visited mid-week, Pomerelle felt like my own private ski resort loaded with powder.
Best Runs at Pomerelle
There are 24 named runs (including 2 terrain parks) within the boundaries of Pomerelle, accessed by two triple chair lifts and one magic carpet. Most of the runs are green and blue, making it an excellent resort for families and learning. There are a handful of black runs, but none are too steep or extreme. Run names tend to follow a rodeo-theme—Bull, Stampede, Colt, and more. Overall it’s a great place to progress within your comfort zone.
The trail map looks rudimentary by ski resort standards, it’s simple and hand-drawn and child-like in the best way. Hidden between the official blue, black, and green runs are the best lines of the mountain, though, in my personal opinion. Yahoo and Fenceline are fun blues, or speed up on Stampede and Chute #9 black runs. Just like you’re warned against judging book covers, don’t judge a resort by its trail map alone, either.
Hidden between the official blue, black, and green runs are the best lines on the mountain.
Thanks to Visit Southern Idaho and Ski Idaho, I had a special tour guide, the granddaughter of the ski school director, who’s logged countless days and runs on and all around the mountain. She took me straight to her favorites, all the local go-tos, and few officially appeared on the aforementioned map.
Best Powder Stash
A powder day at Pomerelle made all the criteria I usually use to judge a mountain resort—vertical, acreage, on-mountain dining, speedy lifts, terrain variety,—fly out the window. (Any resort is the best on a powder day.) Pomerelle is known for a massive number of high-quality powder days. The elevation and snow quality means Pomerelle has a longer season than other Idaho resorts and powder stashes aplenty.
The powder is everywhere at Pomerelle, including groomed runs. Still, I got the inside scoop on the powder stashes on the mountain. Some are easy-access, but still have awesome snow preservation. Other stashes require a bit of a hike in, or depending on how much snow has fallen and drifted, a hike out, but the surf-able snow is worth it. One particularly epic run for me wrapped up with a walk through waist-deep snow. Later my companions joked that it’s amazing my guide and I were still friends.
Noodle Mouse/ Chute #9: Drop into the trees immediately below the lift and don’t emerge until you reach the base. The trees are widely spread apart, allowing speedy turns through piles of powder.
Backdoor: Head far left off the lift, follow the lift line and jump the line for crazy snow before hopping back in the trees below Fenceline and re-emerging along the Magic Carpet Lift.
Twin Lakes: Head far right off the lift, ideally keeping up as much speed, until you ultimately slow to a stop and hike what remains of Meadow. This aptly named green run is the only access to Twin Lakes along the resort bounds. Look for wind-blown drifts and natural kickers to play down the rest of the run. (Pro tip: On deep days, prepare for a hike out as well.)
Where to Eat on Mountain
Flying through all the fluffy snow will work up a big appetite quickly. The only dining option is in the base lodge. Here, you can grab cafeteria-style food and snacks and linger with friends or head right back out to the slopes. You can’t go wrong with any of the hearty menu options—tacos, burgers, or sandwiches.
The Most Instagrammable Places at Pomerelle
Triple 88 Chair Lift… This lift runs from the base to the top of the mountain and straight through beautiful evergreen trees caked with snow. If it’s sunny, snap photos with your shadow heading up the mountain or simply capture the snowy trees all around.
Snow ghosts… If you’ve never heard this term before, prepare to be amazed at the top of Pomerelle. A snow ghost is a tree so thoroughly covered in fresh snow it looks like a mountain ghost. They’re not scary in the least, instead signaling an epic powder day is in store for everyone lucky enough to be on the mountain.
Twin Lakes… After a slow-go on Meadow, and a winter wonderland of powder pillows opens up simply begging for photos.
Chair lift… At the base is a vintage chair from the old chair lift on the mountain. Also nearby is a phone booth (those things people used before cell-phones to communicate), that looks incredible when covered in a pile of snow.
Why You’ll Love Riding Pomerelle
A day snowboarding Pomerelle’s snow-covered slopes brought me right back to my early years of snowboarding. The mountain has a way of holding onto the good ol’ days of skiing and snowboarding when crowds and chain restaurants were scarce and the slopes were simpler. What’s left is rustic and real, essentially a powder paradise for open-minded snowboarders.
Pomerelle stays open late most days and offers night skiing and riding 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm on six runs off the Triple E-Z Rider Chair, weather permitting. The extended hours run Tuesday through Saturday, so perfect for a few runs after the workday or an extra-long Saturday shred. The evening lift tickets are $20, or only a few dollars extra when purchased with a full-day lift ticket.
Pomerelle is also really affordable during the day. Another favorite HAS to be the unbelievable lift ticket price. The window rate is $48, and kids under 12 pay $35. Yep, not typos, those are really the current 2020 lift ticket rates.
Getting There & Around
Located in the Albion Mountain range of southern Idaho, Pomerelle is roughly halfway between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Sun Valley, Idaho. It’s a great off-the-beaten-path stop if you’re planning a road trip. The nearest airports are regional, Magic Valley Airport in Twin Falls and Pocatello Regional Airport in Pocatello, and a little over 90 minutes away by car.
For locals, it’s 12 miles from the nearest town of Albion, Idaho, via highway 77 and Howell Canyon Road. Before heading here, prepare for mountain driving with snow tires and four-wheel drive to traverse country roads safely. The base area has free parking, a ticket office, and a main lodge. (Pro tip: After a snowy day parked at Pomerelle, clean off your license plate so you won’t get pulled over by state patrol.)
A powder day at Pomerelle was a pleasant surprise, as a number of people turned up their noses at the sound of the resort’s name. Pomerelle, to many was not worth the drive/effort/etc compared to other more noteworthy ski resorts. I beg to differ.
Pomerelle’s Ski and Snowboard History
Pomerelle has been family owned and operated since it opened in 1958 with one single homemade platter lift. However, it all started with a tow rope put in way back in 1939 as Howell Canyon ski area three miles down the road from the current ski base area.
The name Pomerelle, as legend has it, comes from the ski area founders’ fruit wine buried in the snow for apres ski. Pomerelle wine company was made in Washington with apples and other fruits. Today, it’s still around as Chateau St. Michelle (grab a bottle and stick hide it in the snow bank by the parking lot for a truly authentic visit).
Pomerelle as you see it today is largely thanks to Woody and Sandy Anderson from Salt Lake City. The ski industry couple bought the resort at a fire-sale price in the 1970s. He owned a ski shop in Park City and also was director of the ski school at Park City Mountain. They believed, “If it’s a ma and pa operation, ma and pa better be there.” And they were, sometimes snowed in when Pomerelle received an especially heavy dumping of snow.
The original warming hut from Howell Canyon ski resort is now the ticket office, where everyone pops in to get their lift ticket, an old school sticker-style ticket with a colored stamp designating the date.
Pomerelle proves there are friends on a powder day.
- Hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily, 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm night skiing Tuesday through Saturday
- Opening/Closing Dates: Nov. 29 – April 5 (Pomerelle is one of the first Idaho resorts to open each season.)
- Runs/Acres: 24 / 500 acres
- Average Annual Snowfall: 500 inches
- Address: 961 E Howell Canyon Rd, Albion, ID 83311 (208) 673-5599
- Nearest Airport: Magic Valley Airport (Twin Falls, Idaho), Pocatello Regional Airport
- Pass Access: Pomerelle Season Pass, Multi-Day Punch Cards
- Facebook: Pomerelle Mountain