Silver Mountain Resort

Opening Weekend Recap

Words & Photos by Chuck Finlay

Imagine all the excitement of a big race weekend without any of the stress, and you’ll know just the type of excitement we felt as we rolled into Silver Mountain Resort for the bike park’s opening weekend. Silver is one of those, “if you know, you know” places. Located in the quiet town of Kellogg, Idaho, it’s a bit of a sleeper in the mix of Pacific Northwest riding locales. Far from the wet, loam paradise that often comes to mind when one pictures the region, Silver Mountain is a drier yet equally fun shredding paradise and is a true rider’s mountain.

Our group made the pilgrimage as guarantees of fresh turns and good dirt lured us from home. We turned off Interstate 90 and approached the overflow parking in the golden light of the setting sun. The place was relatively deserted. Especially when compared to the hordes of people we would wake up to. Silver Mountain Resort boasts some truly spectacular accommodations, but for most of my fellow dirtbags the real party is in the parking lot.

As we settle in and watched the sun set, friends and fellow riders continue to trickle in – the scene is almost reminiscent of a western wagon caravan. The weary travelers arrive, excited for the following day. Circle the wagons, or vans, set up camp and grab a seat at the fire ring. Get loose, but not too loose. Tomorrow, the gondola will begin loading bikes for the 2017 season. Tomorrow, summer officially begins.

With longer operational hours than many bike parks, I’m normally in no rush to get my share of laps. I prefer to grab coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Mountain Café, but not today. Today was opening day for the bike park and with the persistent snow pack, the resort re-opened skiing for the weekend. We were looking for first chair, but the allure of free passes on Saturday for both skiing and biking brought out the masses. We remained unphased by the lengthy gondola line and, for the most part, we weren’t alone. Skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, and scenic lift riders alike – it all was smiles and stoke for the stacked weekend.

The upper mountain trails were still under a foot of snow and riders were re-directed along a fireroad to the lower trails – the brave opted for a more direct route through the snowfields. Lower down, we hopped on some trails and were rewarded with absolute nirvana. The high levels of spring precipitation had graced Silver with pristine trail conditions. Upwards of 600 bikes were on the hill opening day and the dirt responded to the traffic elegantly.

By afternoon, many had swapped bikes to skis and snowboards. With spring skiing conditions on the backside, it was a party on the mountain. Every demographic from your distinguished senior to park rat was out in force, relishing in the mid May skiing.

On Sunday morning, the crowd had thinned out leaving a more dedicated group of enthusiasts. Although still relatively busy, lift lines had shortened and congestion on the trails had lightened up considerably. Some took the time to scout lines for the upcoming North American Enduro Cup, but most were keen to put in as many laps as hand cramps and arm pump would allow. By the end of the day, every face was wearing a layer of dirt and an ear-to-ear grin.

Opening weekend at any bike park is almost a guarantee of good times, but I believe all in attendance would agree that the good people of Silver Mountain Resort managed to outdo expectations. There’s a lot that goes into an opening and I really have to hand it to everyone who helped to facilitate the event. But I think the credit also belongs to the people who showed up ready for an incredible experience. Thank you to all where present, to those who had the patience to let me take pictures, and to the crew at Silver Mountain for hosting one of the best opening weekends I can remember.

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