Cottonwood’s motto is “Escape to Cottonwood”. That sounds kinda corny until you drive up to this throwback locals-only hill: you actually drive through a section of North Idaho Correctional Institution to get here – and by that I mean you drive directly by prison buildings. Locals take that with a bit of pride, and it’s not uncommon to see them ski in prison get-up. Cottonwood Butte is located at the edge of the Camas Prarie with surprising views of rolling fields and distant peaks. A local told me that the area was created when property owners on the butte pieced parcels together on the shady north side. A t-bar serves a respectable 845 vertical feet, and there is a gentle beginner rope tow. A small lodge serves simple meals, and if you are skiing here and not from the immediate area you will be a topic of curiosity – it’s all good, however. Anyway, everyone is here for the skiing and fun. Tickets are dirt cheap but the area does not get a ton of snow – make sure to call ahead for conditions, or check out their Facebook page.