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Top 10 Winter Activities In Idaho
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Top 10 Winter Activities In Idaho

Picture of H.E. James
Updated: 9 February 2017
If there’s an outdoor activity you want to do from spring to fall, chances are you can find a nice dry trail for your favorite outdoor pursuit. What happens when the snow begins to fall, since Idaho sees some the highest average snowfall in the Northwest? Take it from this Idaho native:  you can still find plenty to do when the temperature dips and the state becomes blanketed in snow and ice.

Bald Mountain in Sun Valley | © Greg L. Wright/WikiCommons

Bald Mountain in Sun Valley © Greg L. Wright/WikiCommons

Skiing at Historic Sun Valley

Visit Sun Valley to take a leisurely run down the ski hills that have played host to celebs since it opened in 1936. The resort opened with the world’s first chairlifts, and recently completed a major renovation before its 80th year of operation. If you’re not a skier, there’s a lot to do in Sun Valley as well, from shopping at boutiques, to checking out the resort’s new bowling alley. There’s even a year-round ice rink for skating as well as multiple concert venues. Go into the nearby town of Ketchum for even more choices.

Sun Valley Inn, 1 Sun Valley Rd., Sun Valley, ID, USA 

Burgdorf Hot Springs | © Evan Jones/WikiCommons

Burgdorf Hot Springs | © Evan Jones/WikiCommons


Snowmobiling to Burgdorf Hot Springs in McCall

Snowmobiling is a popular sport in Idaho and is possible throughout the state. Visiting hot springs is also a favorite Idaho pastime, and what better way to experience an Idaho winter than combining the two. After a day on a snowmobile, you’ll want a good soak in natural hot springs and a warm bed to rest in before moving on the next day. Enter Burgdorf Hot Springs, accessible only by snowmobile during the winter months. The hot springs park outside of McCall offers 15 cabins with stoves and light snacks for campers and even massages, but you must bring in your own bedding and any other food you want. 

Burgdorf Hot Springs, 404 French Creek (USFS #246), McCall, ID, USA

Sledding | © Randen Pederson/Flickr

Sledding | © Randen Pederson/Flickr


Tubing down Bogus Basin in Boise

Fun for the whole family, Boise’s ski resort, Bogus Basin, offers a tubing hill if you’re not the skiing type. Geared towards large groups, the tubing hill requires reservations due to its popularity, no matter if you’re going by yourself or with a family reunion group of up to 100. Of course, if you want to ski or snowboard, Bogus Basin also offers alpine and Nordic skiing as well as a terrain park for freestylers

Bogus Basin Ski Resort, 2600 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise, ID, USA

Cross Country Skiing © djtomdog_Flickr

Cross Country Skiing | © djtomdog/Flickr


Cross-country skiing from yurt to yurt near Idaho City

For a rustic adventure even less motorized than the one you can find heading to Burgdorf, try a long-distance cross-country ski trip, visiting Idaho’s backcountry yurts.  Yurts, traditionally portable tents of Central Asian nomads, come in all shapes and sizes in Idaho. Near Idaho City, just an hour from the state capital of Boise, there are six backcountry yurts available for reservations through Idaho State Parks and Recreation

Idaho City, ID, USA

Skiing © chriscom_WikiCommons

Skiing | © chriscom/WikiCommons


Cat-skiing at Brundage in McCall

If you prefer your skiing to involve powder so deep you can’t see the people you’re skiing with, trying a cat-skiing trip at Brundage Mountain. These trips are not for the faint-of-heart nor the inexperienced, but they offer experienced guides for the trips and powder skis if you don’t have them. Snow cat trips can be booked one seat at a time, or you can book the entire snow cat for the day.  You can even hire a videographer to document your trip.  

Brundage Mountain Resort, 3890 Goose Lake Road, McCall, ID, USA

Hunter in the snow © USFWS Mountain-Prairie_Flickr

Hunter in the snow | © USFWS Mountain-Prairie/Flickr

Hunting

Nearly every day is hunting season in Idaho, as long as you are well-educated in hunting and gun safety. There are multiple big game seasons open right now and through 2016. Because of the differing rules and regulations on seasons, tags, and locations, it’s best to visit Idaho Fish and Game to find out what’s in season and what’s not. The site includes territories for game such as elk, which can be found all over the state.

Coeur d'Alene from Tubbs Hill © DAT in Idaho_Flickr

Coeur d’Alene from Tubbs Hill | © DAT in Idaho/Flickr

Hiking at Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene

Because Idaho has a temperate climate that allows many residents to hike, mountain bike, even kayak through the winter months, especially in the Treasure Valley. However, there are some parts of the state where the winter activities get a little more extreme. One of those is Tubbs Hill, a popular park in Coeur d’Alene. On the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the park boasts over 120 acres of land and looped trails for walking and hiking. The hiking can be tough during the winter months, so prepare accordingly. 

Tubbs Hill, Coeur d’Alene, ID, USA

McCall Winter Carnival © USDA_Flickr

McCall Winter Carnival | © USDA/Flickr


McCall Winter Carnival

Yes, McCall is making an appearance on this list again, and for a very good reason: the Winter Carnival. Once a part of the Payette Lake Winter Games, the first official Winter Carnival was held in the ’60s, and the festival has been going strong ever since. The tiny town of McCall explodes during the week the Carnival is held, and the streets are not just covered in ice but in the iconic snow sculptures that have come to represent the Winter Carnival. 

McCall, ID, USA

Fishing © mypubliclands_Flickr

Fishing | © mypubliclands/Flickr


Steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River in Lewiston

Another testament to the varied climate of Idaho is the fact that you can still fish many of the state’s rivers and lakes during the winter months. Throughout the winter months, you can go steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River near Lewiston. During the warmer months, the season is catch-and-release, but once the winter hits, you can keep your catches. The safest way to plan a steelhead trip during the coldest parts of the year is to go with a licensed guide.

Lewiston, ID, USA

Had to take the kids to a football game, it was the last one of the year.

Boise State Broncos | © Ken Wilcox/Flickr

Spectator Sports

If you live in Boise, you may very well be a Boise State Broncos fan. The Broncos offer everything from the well-known college football team to its highly respected basketball program.

Boise also offers professional sports in the form of the Idaho Stampede and the Idaho Steelheads. The Stampede, an NBA D-league team, and the Steelheads, members of the East Coast Hockey League, share residency at downtown Boise’s CenturyLink Arena throughout the colder months. Upstate, the University of Idaho Vandals are there for your sporting needs.