Rises from the Ashes
Rises from the Ashes
Soldier Mountain was founded in the ridgeline above Fairfield, Idaho, in 1947. The mom-and-pop ski area has long been a place where kids from across southern Idaho have learned to ski or snowboard and where countless families have fallen in love with winter sports. But like many small ski areas in America, time has been tough on Soldier Mountain, and it has been struggling to stay relevant, to stay solvent, to stay open.
Several owners have come and gone in recent times, like gusts of wind across the Camas Prairie, and the 1,150-acre ski area was teetering. Then, the day before Soldier was set to throw a party to celebrate the opening of its new mountain bike trails in August of 2020, a wildfire hit.
The ski and mountain bike trails were torched. One ski lift was severely damaged and the Magic Carpet was destroyed. Only the lodge and a few other buildings were saved. While the day, and the rest of the summer were ruined, hope was not lost.
Just the day before the fire hit, Soldier Mountain had been sold. A Utah-based group, led by general manager, Paul Alden, had become the new owners. And while the fire devastated them, they were determined to make sure that the setback would really become a setup for success.
“It could have been worse and it’s a miracle more damage wasn’t done,” Paul said. “We simply had to get up, dust the ashes off and get back after it.”
And indeed they did. Soldier Mountain opened up on time for the ski season and, by all accounts, they had a great one. The mountain bike trails will reopen as well.
“We had a wonderful season with lots of new and returning guests,” Paul said. “We bought Soldier because it’s a fantastic little ski area. It’s a gem that was slowly dying away. It just needed more attention and we knew we could give it some. People love this resort and they want to see it succeed”.
Under its new leadership, the goals for Soldier Mountain are simply to be welcoming and continue to offer affordable family fun.
“Our objective is to make sure the locals like us, which means people from Mountain Home to Fairfield to the Wood River Valley. We want to be totally welcoming and for them to feel like it’s ‘our mountain,’” Paul said, adding, “We don’t want to be another Sun Valley. We want to be Soldier Mountain.”
Snuggled into the southern tip of the Smoky Mountains, Soldier Mountain offers mountain biking and camping in the summer and lift-assist and snowcat skiing in the winter.
Be sure you make the little trek to Soldier Mountain this winter, then go back in the summer. It’s one of our favorite places.