Cliff's Salmon, Idaho Cross-Country Ski Page

Click on one of the following to jump to that section. Hit the Back button to return here.

A. Introduction:
C. Descriptions of Local XC Ski Trails:
D. Local Snow, Weather and Road Conditions:
E. General XC & Backcountry Ski Sites & Discussion Groups:
F. MISC. XC Ski Links:
G. Printing hints for maps and other large files:
H. Editing Instructions (to use this page as a template for your personal version):
I. Web Site Statistics:

What's New? In 2012 & 2013 the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Page was revised extensively. Click line B above to go to the link. Many updates made 10/29/2013 & 11/14/2013. Most are indicated with an *
Note: Nov 2013 updates shown as ** CAUTION: Section E - G has not been completely checked - there may be some dead links.

A. Introduction:

1. Hints:
 a. Most maps and other graphic files take a long time to load. If you open the link in a "new window" you can continue to "surf" or read the current page while the page with the graphics is opening. In Internet Explorer rest the cursor on the link and Right-Click the mouse and select "Open in New Window".
 b. Many pages including most of my "tables" will display best when viewed in Full Screen Mode. Hit the F11 key to toggle in and out of "full screen" mode.

2. Maps: To better understand planned trips and previous trip reports, I encourage you to get several maps:

a. The latest Chief Joseph Pass Cross-Country Ski Trails Map by the Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club is available at the trailhead and at businesses in Salmon and in the Bitterroot Valley. Note that this only has the groomed trails but is quite up to date. There are a few very short cutoff trails not listed. ALSO, *CLICK HERE for the clubs excellent on-line map.*Previously all the groomed trails were for "kick & glide set track skiing (no skate skiing). There are now groomed "Skating-Multi-Use trails" (shown in brown on some maps & generally to the north of the traditional trails) which are available for multi uses including "skate skiing". Primary access to these trails is via the Broadway Trail (which is now open to skate skiing) or from the Lost Trail Pass snowmobile parking area. (This would be the required trailhead if you are skiing with dogs). The October 2013 newsletter has a map that shows the multi use trails in brown or CLICK HERE for my copy of this map. Here's an older map showing only the traditional trails, or an alternate link to the same map.

 b. The USFS "Lost Trail and Chief Joseph Pass Cross-country Ski Areas" Map (Revised 01/1995), is somewhat out of date for the groomed Chief Joseph trails, but is the best hard copy source for the un-groomed trails in the area and includes all the trails that we ski most. This map will not be on display, so ask for them at your local Forest Service Office.   

*b-1. CLICK HERE for an on-line map that covers the un-groomed trails near Chief Joseph Pass on the Wisdom Ranger District (RD). This map is excellent. This takes a long time to load (See #1. Hints above), but it's worth it. It allows one to zoom in for a very good display of the trails. If the map doesn't display or for more info click for the main BEAVERHEAD MAP PAGE.
I noted two errors.
b-1a. The map shows the junction of the Ander-Rich and Richardson Ridge Trails incorrectly. CLICK HERE for the corrected location
of the Ander-Rich and Richardson Ridge Trail Junction and the south extension of the Ander-Rich Trail. *Note: On the map I state that the south extension of the Ander-Rich Trail is not marked. There we no diamonds showing going north and very few going south. In November of 2012 we added diamonds to the south extension of the Ander-Rich trail so itl can be followed going both ways. We like to ski out the Anderson Mountain Road to the "Big Meadow" and then ski back on the Ander-Rich Trail, usually with part of the group skiing down the Richardson Ridge (aka Richardson Creek) trail.

b-1b. The location of the "Shoofly Cutoff Trail" (in yellow) is incorrect where it joins the Scooter Trail (in red). The "Cutoff" is an easier route to/from Hogan Cabin than the portion of the main Shoofly (in green) that it by-passes.  To take the "Cutoff" going north turn right leaving the main (green) trail taking the yellow trail. However on reaching the ridge-top turn left onto the Scooter Trail (red on the map) and go about 0.1 mile and turn right downhill toward the trail shown in yellow. The map indicates that at the ridge-top one should follow the main trail (green) and then turn left. I'm sure there is no connection at this point. Go left at the ridge-top and watch for the sign and trail turning right downhill.  
 b-2. The XC Ski Trails in the Lost Trail Pass area have changed somewhat since the Lost Trail Ski Area expansion in about 1999. Refer to my trails descriptions in Section C, below. Eventually, I hope to have some on-line maps to show the current location of some of these trails.

c. The 1993-1994 Salmon-Challis Nat. Forests William's Creek Summit Cross-Country Ski Trails Map and Description is still the current "paper" map for this area. This map doesn't show the Mukluk Trail or the Upper Shoshoni Trail (A telemark run). When we constructed the trails the portion of the trail that follows Deep Creek Ridge was called the Deep Creek Ridge Trail. It's now included with and called the Mukluk Trail. The old Deep Creek Ridge trail west of the original Mukluk trail had not been cleared and was impassible the last time I checked, although it's shown as a motor cycle trail on the Forest Travel Plan. CLICK HERE for my on-line copy of the official ski trail map.

c-1: There are now several on-line maps that show most of our trails.
Click Here for a map that shows the trails suitable for mountain bikes in the area and fortunately most of the trails that we ski. This map DOES SHOW THE MUKLUK TRAIL mentioned above. However it does not show the Shoshoni Trail, the Upper Meadow trail spur or Wapiti loop. (Portions of these trails are too boggy for bikes.). The "William's Cr. Road Cutoff" of the Meadow Trail and the Lower Aspen Loop are also not shown. Note that the Black colored portion of the lower William's Creek Trail is not a ski trail. The ski trail portion of this trail ends at the "Big Fir Trailhead". Note that you can "mouse over" a trail or trailhead to see the name. Note that on the left there's an icon that looks like a pile of paper. Click on this and you'll have the option of several other displays. *Caution this map may be a little confusing because the William's Creek Road is not shown. Use in conjunction with my map above or change the map display to one of the "Aerial" views and zoom in a little and the road will show clearly.

B. General Web Links Re. Local XC Skiing: (See Section "A" above ,or "C" or "D" below for added detail.)

  1. Lost Trail Powder Mountain Home Page & Face Book Page. (Note that conditions at Chief Joseph will be very similar.)
         Trail Maps: Fast loading "JPG" map or slower loading high resolution "PDF" map .
        Lost Trail Weather & Snow Conditions, and Webcam.        Go to
LTpark for Terrain Park info and lots of videos.

        Lost Trail Pass Highway Dept: Idaho Webcam,   Montana Webcam (same camera),
             Idaho Mountain Pass Report for Lost Trail Pass (May have road conditions), LT Pass Weather Data, Weather History
             Montana Hwy 93 Road Report and Montana Hwy 43 Road Report. .

The "Saddle Mtn" NRCS Snotel 1 Hour Readings are the most current snow and temperature values for the area near the top of the chair lifts. The times are listed as Pacific STANDARD Time. The most current reading is at the bottom of the report.
In addition, CLICK HERE for 15 daily readings
(taken at 01:00 AM Mountain Standard Time) which may be less confusing for a weekly view. These depths are usually only a few inches more than those at Chief Joseph Pass. (On 18Nov2012 the Snotel listed 10", with 6" measured at Chief Joe = -4, and 3" measured at Lost Trail Pass = -7".)

The best weather & snow forecast for the area is The NOAA Lost Trail "Table Point Forecast"
I often check the: Snow-Forecast.Com's 6-Day Forecast for Lost Trail. If you click on this link be sure inches rather than cm are listed. I've found that the predicted snow depths are considerably less than the above NOAA reports.
Another useful weather related site is the West Central Montana Backcountry Forecast which covers the LT/CJ area.
The Lost Trail Powder Mountain Weather Channel 10 Day Forecast looks useful.

  2. Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club: (Check out their major revisions as of 12/07/2012):
Home Page      Facebook Page     Their Latest Chief Joe Ski & Snow Report.
          Note: Also check the Chief Joe Report on the Missoula Nordic Site below.

  3. Missoula Nordic Ski Club:        
Missoula Area (Includes Chief Jo) XC Snow & Grooming Conditions:
CLICK HERE for a list of snow reports including several near Missoula and also:
(Scroll down with two scroll bars on the right)
      Lake Como, Mount Haggin, and Chief Joseph or Click Here to go directly to Chief Joseph.
                              You may want to scroll down and read previous reports too.

  4. The Salmon Chamber of Commerce Winter Recreation Page has a good general overview of local skiing opportunities.

  5. Williams Cr. XC Trails Snow & Weather Conditions - New: (See section D for additional snow and weather data.)

* The Lemhi Ridge NRCS Snotel HOURLY Readings have been the most current on-line snow depth values for the William's Cr. Summit area. The most current reading is at the bottom of the report.
Although this Snotel is located in Montana near Lemhi Pass it's often a good predictor of snow depth for our higher elevation trails. Often the William's Cr. Summit snow depths will be similar to Lemhi Ridge, with the Meadow Trailhead depths being 2-4 inches less. The times are listed as Pacific STANDARD Time. In addition, CLICK HERE for the Lemhi Ridge daily readings (taken at 01:00 AM mountain time) which may be less confusing for a weekly view.

The NRCS installed a depth sensor at the Morgan Creek Summit Snotel site prior to the 2012-2013 water year which started October 1st. I expected Morgan Creek Summit depths to be slightly less than Lemhi Ridge and William's Cr. Summit. However, currently on 12/04/2012, the Morgan Cr depth is several inches MORE than Lemhi Ridge At any rate it's logical to assume that William's Cr. Summit readings will be somewhere in between the two sites. Click Here for Morgan Cr Hourly readings. The most current reading is at the bottom of the report. Click Here for less confusing Daily readings.

The above 3 Hour Readings may also be helpful as an indication of current air temperatures. Another source (without snow depth) that may have temperatures similar to that at William's Cr. Summit is Forest Service Red Rock Peak site. (This link is formatted by NOAA and has the most current reading at the top.

Another site that MAY be helpful is the Schwartz Lake Snotel near Hayden Cr. The most current reading is at the bottom of the report. The depth sensor at this site is new so I can't compare readings yet, but I would expect that this might have comparable depths to our lower elevation trails. Click Here for daily readings.

William's Cr. Summit Weather: CLICK HERE for NOAA Forecast for Lat.: 45.093, Long. -114.086 and Click here for another format.
Click Here for another forecast
(Will probably require some adjustment to get it to work. May actually be for Salmon city.)

  6. Cliff's Salmon Idaho Web Pages (Also see Cliff's William's Cr. and Lost Trail/Chief Joseph pages, further below): 
My Weekly Cross Country (XC) Ski Planned Trip & Trail Condition Report:

  My Salmon, Idaho Cross-Country Previous Ski Trip Reports For This Winter (2011 - 2012)
with links to 2008/2009 and earlier.

      My Introduction to Cross-Country Skiing 101 page:

      My Welcome to Our Cross Country Ski Group  page: (Has history of the Salmon Nordic Ski Association, etc.) 

    My Forest Service & Other Rental Cabins & Yurts for Skiers page:

    Salmon, Idaho XC Ski Photos Page: - This site is out of date. I'll leave the link in case I get time to fix it.
         Refer to notes on what kind of pictures I can post.

      The following link is to the current page, which has numerous local XC Ski Links. (Listed for printing purposes.)
      My General Salmon, Idaho XC Ski Page:

C. Descriptions of Local XC Ski Trails (Some of this duplicates information in Section A.)

  1. Chief Joseph Pass, Lost Trail Pass, and Saddle Mt. Area: Refer to the Lost Trail and Chief Joseph Cross-country Ski Area map (described in A 2 b., above, and available from the Salmon-Challis NF) for a good overview of these trails including non-groomed trails. Another more detailed map of just the groomed Chief Joseph Trails is available at the trailhead. (Refer to A 2 a., above.)
Using this map, my vehicle mileage, and recently my GPS, I've created a table that lists individual trail segments. The table above may show that a trail is 2.5 miles long, but it usually doesn't show that it's, 1.5 miles on another trail before it starts.
    Go to my draft trail segment table at: for this information.

 a. Beaverhead-Deerlodge (BHDL) "Official" XC trail site. This lists most trails in the Forest, including most of the trails near Chief Joseph, but with some minor mileage errors. Multiply Kilometers times 0.621 to get miles. Note that distance out on Anderson Mountain Road to get to four of the trails is not listed. Refer to my table of miles for more specific details.
CLICK HERE for the latest Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF News Releases. Here's the main BHDL Winter Recreation Page.
   I'll try and check this periodically and post a notification in my "weekly" ski trip report. But you may want to check this in case I forget.

b. There are some sites that list XC Ski Trails in the Lost Trail Chief Joseph Area. Use caution however because many of the mileages are incorrect. 1. Chief Joseph Ski Trails. 2. All Beaverhead Deerlodge Trails. 3. XC Trails at Lost Trail Pass. All these trails are at least in part in the Lost Trail Ski Area and all but the Saddle Mtn Road can not be found easily. The Saddle Mtn mileage does not include the mileage (5 miles) to ski to the edge of the Ski Area. This extra mileage can be reduced to a mile or two by taking a chair lift to the top. See my description elsewhere.

c. An AltaMeadow.Com Description & Map of Chief Joseph Trails: This is a good map of the groomed trails, although it's a little out of date. The "Continental Divide" trail on this map is now "Broadway" with the current CD Trail missing on the map.

 d. The Bitterroot NF used to have an on-line X-C Ski Trails Guide which listed the Saddle Mountain ski trail and had information on the Chief Joseph trails. They don't list that information any more. However several other web sites still quote the information. It listed incorrect mileage for the Saddle Mtn. Road trail. Skiing the entire Saddle Mountain Road is about 9 km or 5.6 miles. One should use caution skiing up the lower Saddle Mt. Road because this is a ski area "cat track". Another option is to purchase a $5.00 "one trip" pass to the top and ski out to the Saddle Mountain Road. One connector trail starts about 100 yards south west of the top of Lift #2. The mileage from this point is probably 4.8 km as previously listed in this web site, and quoted on several other web sites. The Saddle Mtn. Road can also be accessed by taking the "Saddle Mountain Chair 4" and climbing (or taking a rope tow) up to the west 100 yards or so and then skiing south down the first hill on the Oreo Ski Run and turning left onto the Saddle Mtn. Road which comes up this run and turns west. Here's the Bitterroot NF Winter Recreation Page.

Caution: Some web sites and previous maps list other trails in the Lost Trail area. These are for the most part now in the recent Lost Trail Ski Area "Expansion Area". You need to get both a Lost Trail Ski Area Map (See Link at B 1., above) and the Lost Trail & Chief Joseph Pass Map cited in A 2 b., above to interpret these old trail descriptions. The "Wildfire Trail" and "Saddle Mountain Burn" are now part of the expanded Lost Trail Ski area. That doesn't mean one couldn't ski these areas, but the three "Wildfire" Trails and the "...Burn" trail are very hard to find because they have been replaced by trails shown on the Lost Trail Ski Area Map. An alternative for strong cross country skiers or beginning telemark skiers is to ski down the Lost Trail "Candy Stick Trail" to the base of the Huckleberry Lift # 3. Then go down and to the north about 100 yards to the end of the "Saddle Mountain Burn Trail" which at this point follows the West Camp Cr. Road out to Highway 93. You'll need a shuttle vehicle here. Lost Trail is a favorite for telemark skiers. In March of 2008 we found another trail that goes from the Lost Trail Rest Area and comes out on the West Camp Cr. Road (in East Camp Cr.) about 100 yards north of the base of Chair 3. I call it the "Old 93 Trail" because I assume that it's the original "highway" route.

e. A1 Trails Guide: Cross-Country Skiing in Montana -
Select 13A for Chief Joseph. This area is managed by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, Wisdom RD: 406-689-3243, Maps should be available at the trailhead. Refer to the map cited in A 2 a. above.
Select 13B for the Saddle Mountain-Lost Trail Pass Area. Note that there are a few errors. None of the trails in the Lost Trail Saddle Mountain area connect with the Chief Joseph area. (Although there is a "snowmobile route" north of Hwy 43 that does connect.) There are no trail fees and no opportunity for donations. This area is managed by the Bitterroot National Forest, Sula RD: 406-821-3201, not the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF. Refer to C 1 d., above for a description of these trails.

f. The Idaho Falls Ski Club has a page of XC Ski Area Maps which includes a General Location Map for the Chief Joseph and Mt Haggin Areas. They also have the original Chief Joseph Pass XC Ski Trails On-Line Map that was listed in Section A above.

  2. Williams Creek Cross-Country Ski Trails Area: Refer to the Salmon-Challis NF William's Creek Cross-Country Ski Trails Map and Description (cited in A 2 c., above) for a good overview of this area. As of 2002/2003 the Deep Creek Ridge, Upper Shoshoni, and Mukluk Trails were not on the map. Contact me for a larger scale draft contour map including these trails.

a. General description - Salmon Chamber of Commerce Winter Recreation Page

   b. Cliff's Williams Cr. Ski Trails Sites:
   Trail Descriptions     Trailhead Locations     Trail Map     Trail Segment table

   Salmon Nordic Ski Assn. Salmon Challis NF X-C Needs Discussion. (To be added later.)

  3. Other Local Areas:

a. Salmon Area Groomed Snowmobile Trails: Currently these are also open to cross country skiers. Please use courtesy and step aside for snowmobiles. These are groomed for snowmobilers and their license fees pay in part for this. Conversely many of the cross-country trails are not open to snowmobiling.
There is a snowmobile map available at the Chamber of Commerce Office in the City Building, I believe. I'll see if I can scan a copy of On-Line use.

b. Visit Idaho Winter Activities Page Has links to XC Ski Trails. (These don't include our William's Creek or Lost Trail - Chief Joseph areas). The closest trails listed appear to be in the Sun Valley area.)

  4. Cross-Country Trails in Other Parts of Idaho and Montana:

a. Lake Como (North of Darby, MT): At about 80 miles this is the closest area to Salmon that's specifically groomed for skate skiing. CLICK Here for trail reports.

b. Mount Haggin is about 115 miles from Salmon and probably the second closest area specifically groomed for skate skiing. Here's a General Location Map, and the Trail Map, and a Guide to the trails. CLICK Here for trail reports.

c. The Sawtooth Ski Club maintains groomed ski trails south of Stanley (Alturas Lake Trails) and West of Stanley (Park Creek Ski Trails). They've been posting conditions this year. Some years the Stanley City Park can be skied too. At about 122 miles, Park Creek is the 3rd closest area groomed for skate skiing. It's also about half way by miles and time from Boise in case you have relatives there. Refer to the Park Creek Map and Alturas Lake Trails Map. The Stanley Chamber of Commerce sometimes has ski information. Check their MAIN PAGE for possible information. They are also reporting snow conditions HERE. Sometimes they groom the area near the school and airport (The "City Park", I think.) Drive up past the bakery and check it out. The Stanley "Sawtooth" Webcam is a handy link if you are planning to go up there.

c-1. Blaine County Recreation District Trail Guides and Maps. This includes Stanley area trails, Galena Lodge Area Trails, Harriman Trail, and other Sun Valley area trails. Refer to the Overall Map and the Grooming Report for more details.

d. Galena Lodge Trails. Map,   Galena Lodge Website,   Galena Lodge XC Ski Page.

 e. Harriman Trail. Map.

f. Idaho Parks & Rec. Nordic Skiing Site:

g. Visit Idaho Main Idaho Winter Page. The main page for # b. above -- In addition to XC Skiing it has links to snowmobiling, alpine skiing and other winter activities.

h. Here's a general Montana Snow Sports link. Much is related to downhill skiing but there is some XC info too.

D. Local Snow, Weather and Road Conditions:

**1. SNOTEL reports:
The primary purpose for the SNOTEL system is to predict the amount of available moisture in the mountains. The system is managed by the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service - formerly Soil Conservation Service [SCS]. Previously, SCS. Forest Service or others would snowshoe or snowmobile into the hills to measure the weight and depth of the snow to get snow moisture, and other values. Snow depth was always recorded. Since at least the 1970's the measurements have been automated and now almost all the reading are automated, with values being transmitted to Portland, OR. Snow Water Equivalent (In inches), is now primarily determined by the weight of snow on a "Pressure Pillow", thus eliminating the need to determine snow depth. However fortunately for us most SNOTEL sites have an automated measurement of snow depth (also inches). Other values usually collected include: total precipitation (since Oct. 1st), and Current Temperature, and Maximum and Minimum Daily Air Temperature. Time is listed as the current Pacific Time. Most multi day reports list the most recent value at the bottom of the report. The "Weather Bureau" NOAA also produces similar reports - see info below.

Snow Depth Reports, (Daily Readings): These show Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), Snow Depth, Total Precipitation since Oct. 01, and several temperature readings. SWE is the inches of water in the existing snow pack. Currently snow density is not displayed but can be calculated. Density percent is (SWE/Depth x 100). Another useful calculation is: Inches of Snow Depth per Inch of Snow Water Equivalent. This can help interpret other tables or other sites that only have SWE readings.
**During mid winter our snow densities are often about 20%. This seems high to many folks because they hear reports of snow densities of less then 10%. However these reports are only for the top layer that one skis in, whereas the SNOTEL measures the entire snowpack.

Select any time period. I prefer to view 14 days. These all have readings taken at Midnight Pacific Time (currently Standard Time). For depth, I find these daily reports less confusing. Although I call these "Depth Reports", some sites don't have depth gauges, so the Depth Column will be blank.**

Depth Readings Closest to Salmon are from several MONTANA NRCS SNOTEL SITES. Two of these sites are actually on the ID/MT divide. Go to the following site: and select "Saddle Mountain" for data near Lost Trail and Chief Joseph. Select Lemhi Ridge for data near the William's Creek area or for data in the Lemhi Valley between Salmon and Leadore.   Darkhorse Lake is another site that would give data for the highest elevations in the Beaverheads.

*Note in the above (Montana) and the below (Idaho) links you can select a number of days - daily readings for seven days is the default. After running the report you may want to see hourly readings. Above the report click on the "Time Period" and get another display. You may want to select "Hourly" and in the new Time Period box you may want to select 24 or 48 Hours, and then click on - "APPLY". Hourly readings are helpful to see recent temperature and snow depth changes.

Currently the SNOTEL sites with depth gauges in Idaho closest to the William's Creek trails are Morgan Creek Summit and Swartz Lake. Other sites of interest with depth gauges are Banner Summit, Galena Summit, Hilts Creek and Lolo Pass. These may be useful if one is traveling to Boise or Sun Valley or to compare depths to the south of us. Go to the following site and select Morgan Creek Summit or one of the others. See the instruction above to get hourly readings.

2. Multi-Day SNOTEL Readings.     The Best Source for Temperatures or for Timing of Recent Storms.
The above "Depth Reports" are only taken once a day. The following reports have either one hour or three hour readings. Note that the readings are Pacific Standard Time. Thus if the reading is for 06:00 AM it's 07:00 MST (Mountain Standard Time). These reports are the best source for "Current Temperatures". Sometimes the readings seem to be very current and sometimes there may be a lag of several hours before the data are posted. If the data hasn't been updated for several hours, try the NOAA reports in Section E, below. Each report is sorted by date and time in descending order. The latest reading is on the bottom. The Site Elevation, Time Interval of Readings, and whether the site measures depth are listed for each:

Saddle Mountain (Elevation: 7900, 1 & 3 hour readings with depth): This is usually the best source for Lost Trail and Chief Joseph snow and temperature data. This is actually not on Saddle Mountain but rather a mile or so NW of the Lost Trail Chair Lift #1:
Moose Creek (Elevation: 6200, 1 hour readings w/o depth): South of, and lower in elevation than the base of Lost Trail Chair #2.
     Take the Saddle Mt. Depth/SWE reduce it slightly and multiply it times Moose Cr. SWE to get a rough depth estimate.
Lemhi Ridge (Elevation: 8100, 3 hour readings with depth): This is one of the closest sites to our William's Creek ski trails:
Morgan Creek (Elevation: 7600, 1 hour readings w/o depth): This is also close to William's Creek Summit. One should compare temperatures and SWE values. This doesn't have depth, but does have hourly readings. Sometimes there is less delay in the data:
     Take the Lemhi Ridge Depth/SWE and multiply it times Morgan Cr. SWE to get a rough depth estimate.
Schwartz Lake (Elevation: 8620, 1 hour readings with depth): (near Basin Lake):   (Depth Sensor is new 2010.)
Meadow Lake (Elevation: 9150, 1 hour readings w/o depth): West of Gilmore:
Banner Summit (Elevation: 7040, 1 hour readings with depth): If you're going to the Stanley area or driving to Boise this could be helpful: - Readings are always very prompt.

To obtain the above reports go to: and select the desired state and then the desired site.

3. Other Snotel & Surface Weather Observation Sites:
a. NRCS National Water and Climate Center - Main SNOW Page:  Has links to numerous snow reports. Note that the following state sites have links to some of the same reports as this site and links to other reports (usually similar).

   b. Other Idaho Reports: Idaho Snow Survey Home Page.
      This text report shows the % of average SWE & Precipitation for all Idaho sites. We're in the Salmon Basin.
slightly different table format report can be found - Does not work I'll follow up latger HERE. Check both reports; sometimes one will have an error not in the other.
         Scroll down to the Salmon Basin and select the Site of interest such as Lemhi Ridge or Saddle Mountain or the Basin Wide Summary.
         Then look at the Percent Departure from Avg. Column. Subtracting this value from 100 gives the Percent of Normal Value.

         The above reports use some of the "Montana" sites including Saddle Mtn. & Lemhi Ridge.
      An alternative to the above reports is the similar:
Montana % of Average SWE Text Report.
         Look for the "Jefferson River Basin" which also uses Saddle Mtn. & Lemhi Ridge.

   c. Other Montana Reports: Montana Snow Survey Home Page:
      Lost Trail Ski Area Snow Report (Only updated during ski season.)

   d. The Western US Snow Depth Map has a symbol for each Snotel site that measures depth. The symbol will give a snow depth range.

   e. NOAA Snotel, and other surface weather observations, searchable map. Once the map is displayed you can click of a variety of weather sites. Hover the mouse to see the type and name of the site. Click to display Snotel or other readings.  
Note that for sites with multiple stations only one type of station may be shown on the map. For example for Banner Summit, only the RAWS data can be accessed from the map. However one can select Banner Summit Snotel from the list at the bottom of the map. 
   Rather than using the above map or table you can click on one of the links below.  Many of the NRCS Snotel reports list the most recent data on the bottom. These NOAA reports list the most recent data on top. They will often not list all data. I think they weed out data that looks questionable.
** Note the NOAA displays are excellent but are best if you select
Printable Version (the link is at the top of the report). Also note that they calculate the 6 hour and 24 hour snow accumulation. (Although small "accumulations" may actually just be from depth sensor fluctuations). Also, having the most recent data at the top of the report is usually helpful.

NOAA Snotel - Saddle Mountain (Elevation: 7900, 3 hour readings with depth): This is usually the best source for Lost Trail and Chief Joseph snow and temperature data. This is actually not on Saddle Mountain but rather a mile or so NW of the Lost Trail Chair Lift #1.

NOAA Snotel -Moose Creek (Elevation: 6200, 3 hour readings w/o depth): South of, and lower in elevation than the base of Lost Trail Chair #2. Take the Saddle Mt. Depth/SWE reduce it slightly and multiply it times Moose Cr. SWE to get a rough depth estimate.

NOAA Snotel -Lemhi Ridge (Elevation: 8100, 3 hour readings with depth): This is one of the closest sites to our William's Creek ski trails.

NOAA Snotel - Morgan Creek (Elevation: 7600, 1 hour readings w/o depth): This is also close to William's Creek Summit. **One should compare temperatures and depth values with Lemhi Ridge. William's Cree Summit values are often somewhere between the Morgan Creek and Lemhi Ridge values.

NOAA Snotel -Schwartz Lake (Elevation: 8620, 1 hour readings with depth): (near Basin Lake). (Depth sensor is new.) It appears to me that this site usually has snow depths somewhat more than what we have at William's Cr. Summit.

NOAA Snotel - Meadow Lake (Elevation: 9150, 1 hour readings w/o depth): West of Gilmore no depth sensor.

NOAA Snotel - Banner Summit (Elevation: 7040, 1 hour readings with depth): If you're going to the Stanley area or driving to Boise this could be helpful. See the note above. This link is not available from the map, only from the list below the map.

NOAA -- RAWS -- SALMON (Has precipitation, temperatures, etc.): This doesn't have snow information, but the temperatures can be compared against Lemhi Ridge or Saddle Mountain to determine if we are in an "Inversion", etc. Note also that the site is not exactly in Salmon but almost 1,000 feet higher at 5,100' elevation.

** Another source of temperatures for William's Creek Summit is the Forest Service Red Rock Peak site another RAWS site.

   f. Other Snow and Weather History Sites:

Desert Research Institute (DRI) - Western Regional Climate Center, Snotel Site - Has links to reports and graphs, including:
N.Idaho/W.Montana Map Link to Snotel Graphs, including: Graph Setup Page for Lemhi Ridge Snotel Site, and Graph Setup Page for Saddle Mtn.
In the above "setup pages" select the starting and ending YYYYMMDD, often October 1 to July 15 makes a good display of snow water.

4. Avalanche and Backcountry Conditions:

West Central Montana Avalanche Center -

Sawtooth NF Avalanche Center -

Backcountry Weather Forecast 
(Often not available weekdays) -
This site often doesn't work in the early season.

Avalanche danger rating definitions -

Avalanche.Org - General Ave Info. -

US Accidents 11-12

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The Rutschblock Test.
The above is out of date. I'll see if I can find the new location for it?
Wait a few seconds for the Yahoo add to go away

Ortovox Transceivers -




5. Weather Forecasts and Road Conditions.

   a. Weather Forecasts: (all links have major revisions Oct 2008) CLICK HERE to learn about Point Forecasts.

Lost Trail Pass Area Weather: (Click on the links to get a weather forecast)
   NOAA Tabular "Point Forecast" for LOST TRAIL PASS.  (This was previously called the Prototype Digital Forecast.)
   Other Lost Trail Forecast formats:
7 Day Text Only Format, The Printable Forecast Format is similar with more graphics.
   Snow Forecast.Com's Lost Trail Ski Area Forecast. The default is for Metric Units, Click on the "Imper." (Imperial) link for feet & inches.
   Another good forecast is the backcountry weather forecast. Look for the Bitterroot -- Lost Trail Pass area.
      This doesn't cover as long a period so you need to check it again periodically.
      Notice that this lists the "Snow Level" (The elevation where rain changes to snow). Caution this report isn't usually activated until winter.

William's Cr. Summit (Approx.): CLICK HERE for NOAA Tabular Point (formerly Digital) Forecast for Lat.: 45.093, Long. -114.086.
This area is for the Lat./Long. for William's Cr. Summit. This is probably not EXACTLY at William's Cr. Summit. The NOAA displayed elevation for this Lat/Long. Has varied. Previously it displayed 7774, then 7564, and recently back to 7,774' - close to the Summit elevation of 7813 and close to the elevations where we ski.
   Other William's Cr Summit Forecast formats:
7 Day Text Only Format, The Printable Forecast Format is similar with more graphics.

Salmon, ID Weather: (Click on the links to get a weather forecast)
   NOAA Tabular "Point Forecast" for SALMON, ID.  (This was previously called the Prototype Digital Forecast.)
   Other Salmon Forecast formats:
7 Day Text Only Format, The Printable Forecast Format is similar with more graphics.

Missoula National Weather Service (NWS), Forecast Area forecasts for selected points: CLICK HERE to select a town or a Latitude Longitude in the Missoula Weather Forecast Area or Click on a location on the map at the bottom. This allows one to get a forecast for more than just an official town. I'm not sure if there are options for the Latitude -- Longitude, but I know that 45.093,-114.086 will work. (Latitude in decimal degrees, a coma, and latitude preceded by a minus sign (for west) and decimal degrees).

   b. Road Conditions:

Idaho Road Reports:
     Idaho Roads Home Page:
Idaho Road Link to US 93 Road/Weather conditions.     Idaho Road Conditions: -   Click on desired highway. For example: US-93, SH-28, SH-29, SH-75, SH-21. Roads not in numeric order - use the browser "Find" feature if necessary.
Montana Road Reports: Main Page
     MT Travel Info. Home Page:
     Winter Storm Warnings:
     Detailed Road Rpt: Click Here Look for MT-43 & US-93. Add route from Darby to Wisdom to see LT Pass area.
     Road Condition Map: Click Here

E. General XC & Backcountry Ski Sites & Discussion Groups:

1. Telemark Tips at: is one of the best. Be sure and click on their "Telemark Talk Forum"

2. Couloir Magazine at: also has some good articles.

3. Cross Country Ski Magazine at:

4. The Rec.Sking.Backcountry "Newsgroup" has messages related to backcountry skiing.

The most dependable way to access this is probably via "Google Groups". This used to be called "Deja News" before Google took it over. Click HERE to go to the latest messages.

Another way is to do a Google Groups Advanced Search at: and enter in rec.skiing.backcountry for the newsgroup. I prefer to list 100 messages but limit the search to the last few years. A typical search might be for "wax waxless", without the quotes, in the "With All The Words" box. When you see a message with an applicable subject, click on "View Thread" and then click on the first message. You'll also see the next several answers to the first message. Click on Next 7, or whatever number is showing, to see the next several answers.

Here's another way to read the most recent messages. It won't work on any of the government computers, but if you have set up your computer properly, it should work for those using Salmon Internet, if you have one of the following: Microsoft Internet News, Microsoft Outlook Express, or Netscape. It may be necessary to have Netscape as your default browser for it to work. Click on the following:
news:rec.skiing.backcountry and one of the previously mentioned programs should open. Allow 2 or 3 minutes for the messages to display. Click on any message that has an interesting subject. If you want to look at this newsgroup regularly you may want to use the "Subscribe To This Newsgroup" feature. Note that normally the messages are NOT downloaded to your computer only the subject titles. Holler if you want more information on Newsgroups. Be careful with the "alt" news groups. Some are very good, such as alt.genealogy, but some are xx rated. (At least that's what they appear to be based on their titles.)

F. Misc. XC Ski Links:

  1. Cabin & Yurt Rentals.
    Cape Horn Guard Station: -
     - Beaverhead Deerlodge NF cabin rental including May Cr. and Hogan's Cabin -
     - Huts And Yurts For Backcountry Skiing (Select the State, Province or Country): -
  2. Other:
    Backcountry Skiing in Idaho Video for sale: -
    is more about climbing and hiking but some is skiing related. There is a message board and during the winter there's sometimes ski discussion. - Note especially the link on Copper Mountain. Let's go there sometime! -
    Western Montana Visitor Guide at has several ski related articles, including one on 24 Nov 2003 titled Ski Conditioning 101.
  3. Previously The Missoulian: had a Recreation Report and an "Outdoor Briefs" Report.
    Check the following periodically to see it they start these again or for other ski related articles:

G. Printing hints for map and other large files:

To print a copy of one of the maps or larger images, it's faster to save the file to your disk and print it later. In MS Explorer, rest your cursor on the link to the desired file and right click and select "Save Target As". You can click on the file later and read it with your browser or other default program for that type of file. I have a $15 Photoworks Plus V2.31 from Seattle Filmworks. It works better for printing maps than MS Explorer or MS Photo Editor. If necessary, I use the "Poster Mode" to distribute the map over several pages.

H. Editing Instructions (to use this page as a template for your personal version):
Caution, the following may not work any more. I'm now using the MS Office 2003 version of word and it puts a massive amount of extra "garbage" into the source file so it would be hard for someone to edit this now unless they also have the same version of word. I'll probably delete these instructions soon.

You can save this file and edit it to reflect your personal needs. To save this file, make sure that it's saved as an HTML file with an ".htm" or ".html" extension (suffix). You can then double click on the file name and your web browser will launch. You can also launch your browser and then open this file (Using File, Open, Browse, etc.). Click on any of the above links to go to that site. If not already connected your web browser will open and will dial your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Once filed, this can be edited by most modern word processors. For example: if you have MS Office 97, then within MS Internet Explorer Version 5, you can select "File" and "Edit with Microsoft Word for Windows 97". Other Browsers and other word processors will vary as to commands. Note that you cannot line up or space words with the space bar or with tabs in an Internet document. You can insert a "Nonbreaking Space" as was done here, or you can use Tables to accomplish this. In MS Word you enter a Nonbreaking space by typing the Ctrl-Shift-SpaceBar at the same time. Save the document periodically and then go back to the Browser version and hit the Refresh Button to see your changes.

I. Web Site Statistics:

 5,858 Words

  Web Location

  Last revised on web: 1/

 01/18/2012   21:30 PM  

  Previously revised on web:

 12/03/2010   13:45 PM  

  Home Page Location


Email is: ckeene41-b4 followed by an @ and then
(Cliff Keene, 1405 Tendoy Ave, Salmon, ID 83467).

  1/    Items with an "*" were added since previous revision. *
      Two ** indicate minor updates.