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Mountain Towns Prepare For Winter Recreation During COVID-19

Joshua Wells
Sun Valley Resort

If the busier than expected summer season taught mountain towns anything, it’s that people are soaking up every opportunity to be outside during the pandemic. And now, recreation destinations are planning for that trend to continue this winter.




Idaho’s ski resorts say visitors will experience the mountain a bit differently this year, right from the parking lot.

“Get ready for the day at your car," said Mike Fitzpatrick, the guest services director at Sun Valley Resort, during a summit hosted by Visit Sun Valley and Sun Valley Economic Development this week. He’s recommending guests put on their boots and eat their lunches outside the lodge.

Face masks are required almost everywhere and capacity in indoor spaces will look different, but, unlike some resorts in the region, there’s no reservation system for skiing. 

That’s also the case at Brundage Mountain in McCall.

“Our on-mountain capacity is not our challenge," said Brundage General Manager Ken Rider. "The capacity in pinch points are our parking lots, our lodges, our bathrooms and things like that.” 

So, the mountain has moved things like lockers and food service outside. 

Local recreation industry leaders also expect sports like backcountry and nordic skiing to take off this year. They know that from high gear sales and record interest in avalanche safety programs. 

So, they say the community will need to focus on educating newcomers on how to respect the trails and stay safe in the mountains. 

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen  

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