Idaho_view_from_Hoodoo_Pass.jpeg

Hoodoo Pass is known to be the first place in our area to receive enough snow (sometimes by mid October) to break out your (rock) skis. One can usually get a semi-accurate early season snow report from any local ski repair shop where the hardiest of souls have already dropped their gear off to be repaired.

Hoodoo is the early season hot spot because its road can be driven (bring a reliable 4x4 though, not your aging 1994 Nissan Sentra) for a window of time when the snow is deep enough to ride, but a rig can still be piloted most of the way to the pass. When the snow finally comes, this area can only be reached by snowmobile.

Ready to go? From Missoula, take Interstate 90 about 60 miles west to Superior and then take the Diamond Road back east along the south side of the freeway. The road will parallel the freeway four to five miles and then turn up and into the mountains for another 20 miles to the pass. It can be a bit of a trek depending on the condition of the road, and your chosen mode of transportation.

Upon reaching the top of the pass, you’ll hopefully see some big snow drifts and signs that mark the Idaho Centennial Trail leading up the ridge to the east. This is the most common route and you may even find a skin track established. Work your way up the ridge until you’ve come to a large bowl with Hoodoo Lake in the basin below to your left. This north-facing pocket is jam packed with powder turns as long as you are careful. Travel safely and remember that you’re a pretty good ways up there. There’s no need to take chances and barely-covered beargrass is as slippery as a poorly adhered mid-winter snowpack. Just because its early season doesn’t mean that you’re safe from avalanche activity.

NOTE: There’s an (in)famous road gap jump just over the pass on the Idaho side. If you’re on a snowmobile, take a buzz down the road to have a look. Rumor is that its been jumped, but no photos exist to prove it.

Ross Peterson

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