It is truthfully less of a brag and more of a fact that our Turner Mountain Ski Area here in Kootenai Country Montana is unique. Powder Magazine calls this no-line one lift mountain a destination spot for some of the best powder skiing in the entire United States. There goes our secret!
Turner was even highlighted in the new Warren Miller ski film recently. Locally and regionally known as Steep, Deep, and Cheap, the novelty of this ski hill approximately 22 miles north of Libby in the Purcell Mountains is multi-faceted. First, is the interesting history connected to our local ski hill. The Kootenai Peoples navigated the river in sturgeon nosed canoes, fishing, trapping, and harvesting deer. The Deer Robe People, as they were called had perfected a brain tanning method that produced beautiful, soft, whitish deer hides. The tribes also made colorful pipes from the clay that was found along what is now Pipe Creek. Over the Kootenai River and through the woods along Pipe Creek is the route to Turner Mountain. The road somewhat parallels the creek, and one can at times look down into the steep canyon.
About 7.5 miles up the Pipe as we say, is a cutoff road to Bobtail Creek. The landmark Red Dog Saloon is located here. A road that leads up to Blue Mountain Lookout takes off to the east. Near here, was the first Pipe Creek Ranger Station which was built around 1907. Kootenai Country Montana has a proud past as one of the top timber producing areas in the United States. As we meander along the pipe, low elevation sub-alpine fir and Englemann spruce heartily grow along the creek. Western larch, a prized timber species due to its slight taper towards the top grow along the riparian corridor. Just north of the road that heads west to Loon Lake is the site of the old Turner Ranger Station and Civilian Conservation Corps Camp.
About 3 miles north of this intersection up the pipe is the turnoff for Turner Mountain to the southwest. As winter recreationalists meander up this mountain road, tracks of moose, elk, coyote, and mountain grouse trail the edges. Up top, is the mountain named for Frank Turner, an early trapper who hard core trapped the Pipe Creek Drainage from the late 1890’s to the early 1920’s. Up top, natures rugged beauty speaks to us. Up top, weasels and pine marten hunt rodents and snowshoe hare, Canadian lynx wander through, Golden eagles patrol the skies, and mating winter owls serenade each other.
On the top of this remote mountain setting is a multi-run ski hill with a chair lift, lodge, and some of the friendliest volunteer staff to ever work a hill. These men and women are part of this mountain, and of all these mountains. You will see it in their eyes, and in their smiles. We think you will be smiling too! A visit to Turner Mountain in Kootenai Country Montana is a visit into rich history, a remote location, and a rare find. We hope you can keep a secret.
(Author, Brian Baxter’s, Note: Reference-The Future of Our Past, KNF Publications. Turner website: www.skiturner.com)