Any self-respecting ski lodging will include a hot tub or two. Maybe even a heated swimming pool. But only at Silver Mountain’s Morning Star Lodge do you get a full indoor water park to top off your ski day.
Intrigued? Let’s back up, and start with Silver Mountain itself, which offers 77 runs and 1,600 skiable acres along Idaho’s panhandle, right off I-90 in the historic mining town of Kellogg. We found the skiing here to be refreshingly authentic, with as many locals on the slopes as vacation-goers. Lifties clearly knew many skiers, and vice versa. Prices are reasonable, but services and grooming are still above standard. During our visit to the ski terrain, only about half the mountain was open (darn drought!) but what was open was very good skiing for intermediate and advanced skiers.
The ski terrain is a good 15-minute gondola ride from lodging and town amenities. Families won’t find a slick ski village in this small town, but rather a small but family-focused ski area complex at Morning Star Lodge. While additional lodging is available throughout town, this is where families want to be, for easy access to the gondola (the longest in North America, by the way), dining, shops, and Silver Rapids waterpark.
The waterpark comes included in any Morning Star Lodge stay, and is available to lodge guests only (with the exception of group private parties). At 42,000 square feet, its amenities rival those of any major indoor waterpark, Great Wolf Lodges included. Our school-aged kids loved the lazy river best, followed closely by the FlowRider surf simulator. There are several dedicated areas for families with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and a family raft ride for anyone over 42 inches (or even smaller, if with an adult). There are two additional tube rides, plus activity pools with basketball hoops and ‘lily pads’ to traverse. There’s a nice hot tub on the lower level, plus two additional hot tubs and a bar on an upper level. If you have kids who will want to try surfing, the line does get long on the weekends. We found the entire waterpark nearly empty during weekdays in winter, and watched the facility fill up substantially by Friday evening. Two dining areas offer standard counter service food options, including a massive sundae your kids will definitely ask for.
The waterpark is a balmy 84 degrees at all times, making it a very welcome respite after a ski day. We saw many families who booked a night just for the waterpark, too. The ‘village’ area around Morning Star Lodge reminds us of the lodging options at major Colorado or Tahoe resorts…buildings are modern and handsome, fire pits blaze in set areas outdoors, there’s a nice children’s playground, and additional hot tubs for each of four main buildings. Each building at Morning Star Lodge also features ski lockers and their own lobbies. The main lobby near the registration desk features a guest hospitality room with coffee and tea at all times, plus a lounge area.
There’s an arcade, family dining restaurant called Noah’s Canteen, plus pizza place and several shops in the village area, and no matter what building you’re in, you’re only steps from all of it (plus the waterpark). Guests have several choices in lodging, from single rooms to multi-bedroom suites. We were very comfortable in a one-bedroom suite with rollaway bed for our family of five. We debating upgrading to a two-bedroom mostly to have two bathrooms. If you have older kids and teens, you may want to consider this. Each suite has a full kitchen, including dishwasher and full oven/range and full-sized fridge. We also loved having a washer and dryer for all those ski clothes!
Silver Mountain and Morning Star Lodge is certainly a four-season resort. We’ve now visited in both summer (during our first visit nearly seven years ago) and winter, most recently. While we love the ski terrain in winter (there’s also a tubing park), in summer, families can expect hiking trails and mountain biking, including a full scale gravity-based mountain biking park.
Date last visited: First time: June 2008, most recently: February 2015
Distance off the interstate: Less than a minute.
Food Services: There are two counter food service areas within the water park, as well as a pizza place and family dining restaurant located on the resort property. A grocery store is two minutes away by car; ask for directions at the front desk. On the mountain, two venues offer food services. We found the prices on-mountain to be very reasonable (about half what we’d pay in Tahoe).
Directions: Take Exit 49 (Bunker Avenue) off I-90. Drive a mile. Follow the signs!
As we disclose whenever applicable, we experienced Silver Mountain and Morning Star Lodge as guests of the resort during our most recent visit. All opinions are our own.