Tim Wolfgram says it’s quite something to be there for the birth of a ski resort.
“It’s like watching a city rise up around you,” Wolfgram said.
He’s seen this happen twice. The first time was when he worked at Deer Valley Resort in Utah and helped prepare for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The other has been over the past six months as Tamarack Resort near McCall, Idaho, 90 miles north of Boise, nears its Dec. 15 deadline for completion.
“We’re paving the parking lot and stringing cable on the lifts right now,” said Wolfgram, the resort’s recreation director. “We expect to open on time.”
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And when the Northwest’s newest four-season resort opens, it will depend heavily on the Puget Sound region to be successful.
“About a fourth of the 21 million visitors to our recreational areas each year come from Washington,” said Ron Gardner of the Idaho Department of Commerce. “The Seattle-Tacoma area is third on the list of national markets in terms of impact on Idaho tourism.”
Only the Yakima-Tri-Cities and Salt Lake City areas rank slightly higher. There are nine nonstop flights from Sea-Tac Airport to Boise each day, Gardner said.
The boutique-style resort will continue to expand in coming years, but will open this year with 25 downhill runs and 2,800 feet of vertical descent and a large freestyle terrain park that includes a 500-foot super pipe. There are 30 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiers and access to backcountry skiing via snowcats.
A 72 golf course will open at the resort in the summer. There is also a series of mountain biking trails designed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
Tamarack sits on Lake Cascade, a popular location for sailing and paddling.
All of the 168 available single-family lots sold earlier this year, and 113 more hit the market in January.
“Our goal is to be an intimate, upscale resort that is more family oriented,” Wolfgram said.
As Tamarack opens, established regional resorts also are making upgrades for this season:
• When it opens today, Whistler/Blackcomb, the Canadian resort that will host the 2010 Winter Olympic skiing and boarding events, will have 1,100 acres of new terrain. The resort spent $14.2 million on the area and other upgrades in preparation for hosting the 2005 World Snowboard Championships Jan. 15-23.
• British Columbia’s Red Resort, formerly Red Mountain, has launched a 15-year development plan that will add 1,400 on-mountain dwelling units and 70,000 square feet of commercial space. New this year is a daily shuttle bus from Spokane International Airport, a new beginner lift and new family ski snow sports schools.
• Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon will unveil the Vista Express high-speed quad lift this season to reach underused areas along Vista Ridge. The lift allows freestylers to hit two terrain parks and the superpipe in one run.