Snowmobiling in Idaho's northern panhandle.
Snowmobiling in Idaho’s northern panhandle. Photo by Greg Burke

Snowmobiling in Idaho was not on my bucket list, but it should have been.

Being a skier, I know I should have been cross-country skiing peacefully through the glorious pines of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest near Silver Mountain Ski Resort instead. But it was way more fun to be on a Polaris sled screaming along the groomed snow trails covering 40 miles (that would have been a lot of Nordic skiing) with spectacular views of the Coeur d’Alene River, and the Silver Valley.

An afternoon tour with Adventure Sports Rentals made for great afternoon adventure during our Idaho ski trip. First, it’s a great way to explore Idaho’s backcountry, a snow globe of 700 miles of trails – with a guide and well-kept, well-powered snowmobiles. Second, it’s beautiful, jaw dropping scenery around each turn. We saw a moose thrashing around in the trees, cougar tracks, and a bird’s-eye view of Silver Mountain, where we’d skied the day prior. And finally, snowmobiling in Idaho is a rush. On one straightaway we went full throttle, I looked down ever so quickly to see 70mph on my sled’s speedometer.

Riding is technical like skiing (weighting your turns, accelerating, anticipating), while providing a super scenic adventure. I recognize the hypocrisy that a snowmobile brings you to beautiful wilderness settings, but makes a lot of noise and fumes in the process. So it’s a once in a lifetime (ok, maybe twice) indulgence. If you get the chance to snowmobile in northern Idaho, go.

See Idaho's spectacular scenery by snow machine. Photo by Greg Burke
See spectacular scenery by snow machine. Photo by Greg Burke

There are many groomed and ungroomed snowmobile trails throughout Idaho giving the rider access to open powder riding, shadowy mountain trails and scenic vistas.

Special thanks to Heather Burke, ski guru at and photographer Greg Burke of and for allowing us to post this story.  Heather and Greg received complimentary services during their visit to Idaho.

Published on January 27, 2015