Snowbank Mountain is a large twin-summited mountain in the West Mountains of Idaho. At 8322 ft. it is also the highest in the range. Its two summits house a radar facility operated by the FAA. Because of that there is an excellently maintained road all the way to the top of both summits. The road is in such good shape that passenger cars can easily make it to the top of the mountain.
Even though not incredibly high for an Idaho Mountain Snowbank still manages to come in #29 on the Idaho prominance list with 3080 ft. of elevation gain from valley to summit! This alone makes it a worthy goal! (Information courtesy of SP member Dean
Two mountain lakes are just below the summit to the East, Lost Lake and Hidden Lake at the head of Moore's Creek. To the West is the Lake Gabe's Bathtub and Wilson Meadows.
The two summits of Snowbank Mountain are quite different in appearence especially when viewed from the East in Long Valley. From the valley floor only the eastern and shorter summit is visible in most places. This summit is sharper and more dramatic than its rounded and higher western neighbor.
This area of Idaho is known for its massive amounts of snowfall in the winter and is famous for its winter recreation. There are miles of groomed snowmobile and ski trails throughout the area and a number of ski resorts including Tamarack and Brundage Mountain. Snowbank receives its fair share of snow in the winter and snow remains on the peak often til late in the year.
Although the easiest route to the summit is a drive up the view is still quite rewarding. From the top the rest of the West Mountains, the Seven Devils, and much of the Salmon River Mountains, including the Lick Creek Range near McCall, are visible. The View of the Long Valley and the North Fork of the Payette River is also quite nice. The problem with it being a drive up summit is that it can be quite crowded because it is so accessible. There is also of course the large and ugly radar facility on top. Even with those factors it is still a fun mountain to come to and explore.
From Boise take ID 55 North towards Cascade. Before you get to Cascade you will come to the Clear Creek Station, a restaurant and store. Turn right there onto Cabarton Road and follow it til it crosses a brodge over the North Fork Payette River. A little past the bridge you will see a red barn on the left hand side of the road. Turn left here onto the Snowbank Mountain Road and go through the gate. Stay on this road all the way to the top. There are other smaller roads connecting to this road but just keep following the obviously larger and better road. Soon you will reach the top. For more information make sure to read the section in Tom Lopez's book Idaho A Climbing Guide
about this mountain.
The Snowbank Road is gated from November 1 - May 31 every winter. Even though the road is maintained you still cannot drive up it. Also, all the land until you reach the Boise National Forest sign is private and posted. The last thing is you also probably shouldn't mess with the radar equipment on the top.... (DUH!)
There are several decent camping spots along the road. Camping at the nearby lakes would also be a nice option. However camping on top is probably not a good idea as it is probably illegal. Wilson Meadows to the West of Snowbank could also offer some great campsites near the peak.