Idaho is a winter wonderland overflowing with outdoor activities. Maybe it’s your first trip to Idaho or your first foray into Idaho’s winter terrain. Either way, this guide is sure to deliver first-rate activities and destinations that shouldn’t be missed, no matter how you choose to enjoy winter in Idaho.
Pull-on a pair of snowshoes to reach pristine destinations across Idaho. Many easy-to-access areas are perfect for first-time winter trailblazers.
Located 16 miles north of downtown Boise, Bogus Basin offers an immersive mountain trail experience without having to travel too far. Ridgeline snowshoe trails offer views of the rugged, snow-capped mountains and the Treasure Valley below.
The Bogus Basin Mountain Nordic Center has a wide variety of snowshoes and other equipment available for rent. See website for pricing details and trail map.
Less than 1.5 miles from the center of downtown McCall, Ponderosa State Park is home to outstanding snowshoe trails and Nordic skiing tracks. The spectacular views of Payette Lake are worth every step. Bring some cash with you to pay the winter access fee for this park. Snowshoes can be rented at multiple locations in McCall including the McCall Sports Exchange, Home Town Sports, and Gravity Sports.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to snowshoe trails near McCall. Head to The Activity Barn for a free snowshoe loop and other fun winter activities.
Harriman State Park has a reputation as a premier winter area thanks to more than 25 miles of groomed trails. Nordic skiers and snowshoers alike have plenty of room to stretch out their legs and enjoy the scenery. Check the Idaho Parks and Recreation’s website for trail maps and descriptions.
Idaho is a geothermal hotspot with natural hot springs often found along rivers and sometimes require a bit of a hike to reach, while developed hot springs provide many amenities to make sure your first dip is an easy and memorable one. Add these developed hot springs to your list of winter things to do.
The Springs is a geothermal oasis on the outskirts of the historic mining town of Idaho City, just 39 miles northwest of Boise along Highway 21. The Springs features a large hot pool, a 104-degree hot tub, a steam sauna, and private pool cabanas. Kick back with food and drinks from the cafe, or schedule a professional massage for added relaxation. The Springs provides all the extras, so you can just come with your bathing suit and enjoy the experience.
The Springs does limit the number of visitors daily to create a relaxing experience for its guests, so reservations must be made in advance online or by phone. See rates for details.
Lava Hot Springs
The mineral-rich pools at Lava Hot Springs Hot Pools have long been an attraction for travelers looking to relax. Located 35 miles southeast of Pocatello, the multiple hot pools are regulated at different temperatures so visitors can always find their perfect soaking temperature. See Rates & Hours for details. Towels and lockers are available to rent.
Whether you’re an expert or an eager-to-learn newbie, Idaho has multiple mountain resorts that offer groomed runs for skiers and snowboarders of varying skill levels. Here are a few easy to access, beginner-friendly ski destinations you should try out this winter.
From novice learners to experts looking for a challenge, Bogus has the terrain to keep the thrills coming. They have also recently installed a brand new, high-speed quad chairlift to help whisk visitors up the mountain. The Bogus Basin Mountain Rental Shop has a wide variety of ski and snowboard equipment available for rent.
About an hour east of Twin Falls in south central Idaho, Pomerelle is a winter gem. The annual snowfall at Pomerelle is more than 500 inches! There are plenty of thrills for the seasoned skier, but the resort also makes beginners feel welcome and prepped to ski or ride like a pro. Visit the lower level of the lodge for a wide variety of ski and snowboard rental equipment.
Rev up your trip with a roaring ride on a snowmobile. Guided tours and well-defined snowmobile trails will make the experience easy and thrilling. Be sure to dress appropriately for fast-paced, snow-coated fun.
Brundage Mountain Resort, near McCall, offers multiple snowmobile tours departing from the resort area. See Idaho winter destinations like Granite Lake, Brundage Mountain Lookout, sweeping vistas of Payette Lake and the valley below as you cruise down snowmobile trails. Visit the Brundage website for tour prices and reservation information.
CM Backcountry Rentals also offers guided snowmobile tours. While this outfitter specializes in backcountry snowmobiling, the guides also share their knowledge and tips to help beginners improve their skills. Visit the CM Backcountry website for prices and reservation information.
Sign up for a tour with Teton Valley Adventures and get ready to ride through some of the most beautiful landscapes in eastern Idaho. Riders of all skill levels will discover some of Idaho’s most wonderful scenic gems, including Mesa Falls and the Big Hole Mountains. Visit the Teton Valley Adventures website for prices and reservation information.
Selkirk Powder offers guided services from their base of operations at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Your adventure begins with a chairlift ride to the top of the mountain followed by an adrenaline-fueled ride down snowmobile trails to the base of the resort. Visit the Selkirk Powder website for pricing and reservation information.
A wide variety of outfitters and guides are ready to help you and your family navigate Idaho’s powder. To find more information on Idaho’s expansive snowmobiling trail system check out Idaho Parks and Recreation’s brochure on snowmobiling in Idaho.
WINTER FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Winter in Idaho is something to be celebrated! From holiday light displays to city-wide events, these family-friendly festivals embrace the spirit of winter.
Winter Garden aGlow is held annually at the Idaho Botanical Garden near downtown Boise. Nearly 400,000 twinkling lights adorn the entire garden at this walk-through experience while cheery carols add to the holiday spirit. Visit the website for more information.
When: November 28, 2019 – January 5, 2020
The Coeur d’Alene Resort’s Holiday Light Show is the largest on-the-water holiday light display in the nation with over 1.5 million lights illuminating the shoreline of Lake Coeur d’Alene and has made the city a can’t-miss vacation spot in December. Make the evening more magical with a Journey to the North Pole Cruise that takes you to the North Pole to meet Santa and his elves. See the website for tour prices and packages.
When: November 30, 2019 – January 1, 2020
The annual McCall Winter Carnival is a winter spectacle. For 10 days, the entire town of McCall celebrates winter with events likethe Torchlight and Mardi Gras parades, fireworks over Payette Lake, live entertainment at outdoor venues, and the highlight of the festival — elaborately carved, large scale ice sculptures. You’ll find fun around every corner. Most of the festivities are free during Winter Carnival but check the website when planning your visit.
When: January 24, 2020 – February 2, 2020
With so much to see and do in Idaho during the winter, it is easy to turn your beginner’s trip into an epic Idaho extravaganza.
For real-time winter road conditions, visit 511.idaho.gov or download the free Idaho Transportation Department 511 app.
Feature Image Credited to Idaho Tourism.