Beyond Known Experiences
Go beyond the expected and discover Idaho’s unique and unusual winter experiences. It’s time to bundle up and make new memories. Where is your first stop?
If you love the sound of sleigh bells, try this…
- Grab a blanket and enjoy a rustic horse-drawn sleigh ride with Hap and Florence Points Sleigh Rides. As you glide into the valley, herds of Rocky Mountain elk will come up to the sleigh to snack on the hay bale seats. A wheelchair-accessible sleigh is available; call ahead for information.
- Idaho Sleigh Rides’ bell-adorned, old-fashioned sleighs led by spotted draft horses are greeted by Rocky Mountain elk. After the ride, head back to the lodge for a complimentary hot drink and snack next to the cozy fireplace. A wheelchair-accessible sleigh is available; call ahead for information.
- Linn Canyon Ranch’s winter sleigh ride and dinner is an enchanting evening filled with warm drinks, snowy hills and a three-course feast in the historic lodge.
- Spend time dashing through the snow with Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Cozy up for a two-mile loop ride through the wooded foothills of the Cabinet Mountains.
- Warm up with a mug of hot chocolate before embarking on a scenic sleigh ride with Sun Valley Sleigh Rides, or book a dinner sleigh ride that takes guests to Trail Creek Cabin, a 1937 log cabin-turned-restaurant.
If you’re a kid at heart, try this…
- From mid-November to early January, journey to the North Pole with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises. Climb aboard this cruise to revel in more than one million holiday lights, meet a fire-breathing dragon and even make a stop at Santa’s workshop to say hello to Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves.
- The first one down the hill gets a peppermint mocha! Get ready for a snow tubing adventure with the McCall Activity Barn, where you can try out the 800-foot tubing lanes designed like mini half-pipes. Snag a ride on the conveyor belt to return to the top and do it all over again.
- Explore a castle this winter! LaBelle Lake Ice Palace features magical castle passages, ice slides, sledding and your favorite winter characters. Extend your time with a sleigh ride. Purchase tickets in advance to skip the line.
- Grab your swimsuit and escape Old Man Winter with a visit to Silver Mountain’s Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark Resort. Trade snow for water and float down the lazy river, or take the plunge on one of the water slides.
- Lace up your skates and glide along Idaho’s only ice ribbon at Indian Creek Plaza. While there, make sure to check out the free Winter Wonderland holiday display featuring more than a million lights.
If you have a need for speed, try this…
- Put a new spin on your favorite or soon-to-be favorite mountains with twilight skiing. The illuminated slopes at Bogus Basin, Schweitzer and Pomerelle ski areas encourage skiers and snowboarders to shred even when the sun goes down.
- Feel winter’s cold air swirl around your helmet as you traverse Idaho’s backcountry on a guided snowmobile tour with outfitters like Selkirk Powder, Brundage Mountain Resort and Smiley Creek Lodge.
- At sundown, Magic Mountain Ski Resort turns its snow tubing lanes into a disco-like atmosphere with colorful lights that create a snowy kaleidoscope for night tubing.
- Home to Idaho’s only mountain coaster, Bogus Basin invites riders to descend 4,330 feet of twists and turns, reaching a top speed of 25 mph. There’s nothing quite like a snowy rollercoaster ride!
- Make your wildest powder dreams come true on a snowcat tour of Idaho’s backcountry with guides from Soldier Mountain, Brundage Mountain Resort and Selkirk Powder. Hello, tree-lined glades and snowy steeps!
- If you’re normally shredding dirt and gravel during the warmer months, try out fat tire biking at winter destinations like Jug Mountain Ranch and Grand Targhee Resort. Try the Wood River Trail or the Ashton to Tetonia Trail to explore more of Idaho’s winter offerings.
If you’re looking for that festive feeling, try this…
- Stroll through the Idaho Botanical Garden decked out in more than 500,000 twinkling lights at Winter Garden aGlow. Enjoy holiday music, hot chocolate and cozy bonfires while exploring this extensive garden.
- The Winter Spirit comes alive in Lewiston with dazzling, interactive light displays at the Locomotive Park.
- Inspired by the 1924 Payette Lake Winter Games, the McCall Winter Carnival boasts larger-than-life snow sculptures throughout town and firework displays over Lake Payette.
- Recognized as one of the weirdest winter festivals by USA Today, Lava Hot Springs’ Fire & Ice Winterfest is a mix of hot and cold events like a polar bear float in the Portneuf River, costume contests, fire shows and, of course, plenty of hot pool soaking.
- Since 1917, Ashton has been hosting the oldest all-American dog sled race: the American Dog Derby.
- During Thanksgiving Weekend, Preston kicks off the holiday season with the Idaho Festival of Lights complete with a light parade and decoration competitions.
- Spanning McCall, New Meadows, Donnelly, Cascade and Smiths Ferry, the Running of the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge comprises three concurrent races with contestants from all over the U.S. and Canada.
- Music, parades and fireworks, oh my! Sandpoint’s Annual Winter Carnival has been curing cabin fever since 1973.
- Ready to get weird? Experience outhouse races, a glow in the dark parade, raft rides, turkey bowling and live music at Stanley Winterfest.
If you want to experience winter like the locals, try this…
- Bundle up and explore Idaho’s snowy trails on cross-country skis or snowshoes at Bear Basin Nordic Center, East Fork Mink Creek Nordic Center, Craters of the Moon, City of Rocks, Castle Rocks State Park and Winchester State Park.
- Grab your binoculars and watch the migratory bald eagles feed on spawning salmon on the frosty Lake Coeur d’Alene. It’s not unusual to spot dozens of eagles in a single day.
- Dig into an unusual dining experience with Blue Moon Outfitters. Enjoy a global gourmet dinner in the rustic and cozy Blue Moon Yurt at Jug Mountain Ranch, only accessible by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Or, indulge in a gourmet dinner, then explore the surrounding trails by moonlight with Galena Lodge’s three-course full moon dinners during the winter months. Reservations are required for both of these experiences.
- Gear up and hit the slopes at Kelly Canyon Resort near Idaho Falls or Pebble Creek Ski Area near Pocatello. These under-the-radar ski areas know how to serve up those epic bluebird days.
- No boat? No problem. Grab your lines, hooks and warmest winter gear and take advantage of Idaho’s frozen lakes and reservoirs, like Lake Cascade, for an ice-kissed day of fishing.
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