Alterra to Purchase Schweitzer, Idaho’s Largest Ski Area
Schweitzer was the fifth-largest independent ski area in America
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Ask any skier what the largest ski area in Idaho is and they’ll probably say Sun Valley. Because that’s the one they’ve heard of. Because that’s what would make sense. But at 2,434 acres, the Big Groom is smaller than its reputation, ranking 25th in size among U.S. ski areas and third in Idaho, behind Bogus Basin (2,600 acres), and Schweitzer (2,900).
Schweitzer is an anomaly in many ways. It’s one of the few large Western ski areas that sits entirely on private, rather than U.S. Forest Service, land. Its $110 lift ticket is one of the most affordable big-mountain walk-up deals in the country. And up until today, it remained one of the largest U.S. ski areas to dodge conglomerate ownership – an outfit called MKM Trust has owned the resort since 2005 (though MKM was a spin-off of Harbor Resorts, which once owned Schweitzer, Stevens Pass, and Mission Ridge).
Today, Alterra Mountain Company, owner of the Ikon Pass and 17 other ski areas, announced its intention to purchase Schweitzer. The addition of the northern Idaho powder bomb will give Alterra five of the 20 largest ski areas in the United States. Here’s a look at the company’s roster with the addition of Schweitzer:
Schweitzer joined Alterra’s Ikon Pass in 2021, and is a standard seven- or five-day partner on the full Ikon and Ikon Base passes, respectively. While today’s press release indicated that “there are no changes to Ikon Pass 23/24 winter access at this time,” it seems highly likely that Schweitzer will – like most of Alterra’s other properties – eventually join the pass as an unlimited partner. Here’s a look at the current 2023-24 Ikon Pass lineup:
Schweitzer is Alterra’s second ski area purchase this year, following its acquisition of Snow Valley, in Southern California, in January. The acquisition continues the rapid consolidation of America’s largest ski areas under a handful of conglomerates, with 21 of the nation’s 50 largest ski areas now under the ownership of four companies: Vail Resorts (8), Alterra (7), Powdr (4), and Boyne Resorts (2).
While Schweitzer had already joined the Ikon Pass, the purchase will reverberate across the megapass wars, complicating Vail Resorts’ long-term ambitions to establish a broader presence for its Epic Pass in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, which remains one of its thinnest coverage areas on the continent.
Here’s a bit more about Schweitzer, and what Alterra’s purchase means for the Ikon Pass, local skiers, and the U.S. ski landscape as a whole:
Below the paid subscriber jump: Schweitzer 101, how the Ikon Pass may evolve, and an inventory of America’s remaining independent ski areas.