SPOKANE, Wash. — The Inland Northwest is currently in the midst of two back-to-back winter storms that have dumped snow in bunches around the region.
Sometimes these storms can get you out of work or class. Even if they don't, oftentimes people use the weekends to get away for some fun in the fresh powder.
You don't have to travel far to find plenty of opportunities to ski or snowboard, tube, snowshoe, or ice skate in eastern Washington and north Idaho. Here are just a few of the amazing places you can go to have some fun and break up those winter blues.
Skiing, Snowboarding, Tubing and Snowshoeing
Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is about an hour drive north of Spokane and offers runs for a variety of skill levels, including beginners all the way up to experts.
Six chairlifts are available for use, including one triple chairlift and five double chairlifts. For those that like to add a little more flair to their runs, there are three freestyle terrain parks at the ski area. Beginners can also use a surface life that serves a learning area.
In total, Mt. Spokane has 52 designated runs. For those arriving or staying late, Mr. Spokane offers 16 night runs.
If you don't like skiing or snowboarding but still want to enjoy a day on the mountain, a tubing hill is open on weekends and holidays. While it is called the children's choice tubing hill, it is open to people of all ages.
When you're tired enough to take a break or call it a day, two lodges and the historic Vista House await you.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
A regional favorite located about two hours, Schweitzer Mountain Resort offers 92 trails and open bowl skiing. Runs range in skill from beginner (10 percent of runs) to expert (15 percent of runs.) Averaging about 300 inches of snow a year, Schweitzer offers beautiful conditions for skiers and snowboarders.
The area is serviced by a high-speed six-person chair lift, two high-speed four-person lifts, a triple lift, three two-person lifts, a surface lift and a conveyor.
Tricksters can take on three terrain parks to those looking to catch some air. Also, if you want to take in beautiful twilight views on the mountain, two lifts are available from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Schweitzer also offers the Hermit's Hollow tubing center, which has two chutes and a surface tow. The summit also plays host to the Sky House lodge, which has food and drink options for everyone.
49 Degrees North
49 Degrees North is about a hour-and-a-half from Spokane and offers 82 runs at a mix of skill levels on its two peaks. Those new to winter sports can rejoice, as 70 percent of runs are beginner or intermediate level, with the rest sitting at the advanced and expert levels.
Those 82 runs are serviced by seven lifts, including a four-person lift and five two-person lifts. There is also a surface tow lift available.
Another mountain that has 300-plus inches of snowfall a year, 49 Degrees North also brings beautiful conditions to northwest winter sports junkies. For those looking to catch some air, a terrain park is available during normal hours.
Cross-country skiers can make use of the adjacent cross country ski center, which offers 20 kilometers of trails for both skiing and snowshoeing. The Nordic Center also offers a yurt — a style of large tent that usually has amenities — for those looking to take a break from skiing or snowshoeing.
Back on the main mountain, the resort offers a bar and grill, a cafe, a daycare and an alpine shop.
Ice Skating is another favorite winter sport among those in the Inland Northwest. With Spokane being the home of the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs, many people love watching the winter pastime and oftentimes look for places to skate themselves.
Luckily, there are no shortage of rinks to curb that hunger to get out and glide.
The Skate Ribbon at Riverfront Park
A staple of downtown in the winter months, the Riverfront Spokane Skate Ribbon (also often referred to as the Ice Ribbon or the Riverfront Park Skate Ribbon) offers fun for the whole family with its uniquely-shaped ice rink.
With skate rentals offered, you don't have to be a regular ice rink fixture to enjoy the ice ribbon. Its 16-foot wide path that spans 650 feet in total often brings families together in downtown Spokane.
Food and drink are available in its clubhouse, and helmets are free upon request. Fire pits are also present to warm up if you get too cold.
There is also a portion of the ribbon that is an open circle if the winding path isn't your style. The ribbon shines bright at night, presenting a beautiful view of historic downtown as you skate the evening away.
Eagles Ice Arena
Not to be confused with the ice rink in Cheney where the Eastern Washington University Eagles play, the Eagles Ice Arena is located in north Spokane offers public skating along with skating lessons, hockey leagues and a figure skating club.
Home of the Spokane Braves and Spokane Jr. Chiefs hockey teams, the rink is a great place to take in a game of hockey. If you are more the playing type, there are recreational leagues for just about every age group.There are also drop-in hockey nights if you don't want to join a formal league.
The Lilac City Figure Skating Club is also based out of the rink. For those who don't quite have their legs under them yet, the rink also offers lessons for all ages and levels.
Public skates are held often, and the rink can also be rented out at certain times.
Frontier Ice Arena
The Frontier Ice Arena in Coeur d'Alene gives those in north Idaho a place to fulfill all of their ice skating dreams. Hosts of the Coeur d'Alene Hockey Association, Lake City Figure Skating Program and various types of skate sessions, the Frontier Ice Arena is a huge staple of the Coeur d'Alene winter recreation scene.
For those who love hockey, adult and youth leagues are available in addition to drop-in and stick and puck nights. Hockey camps also are run throughout the year. The rink also hosts regional high school hockey.
The Lake City Figure Skating program teaches classes and is open to all levels of skaters.
As well as hosting open public skates and being available to rent, people can partake in curling and broomball.