Winter in Idaho is a time when the state transforms into a snowy wonderland, and the mountains become a place for playing, unwinding, and reconnecting with nature. And with National Forest Day inviting us to get lost in the trees, we decided to put together a handful of adventurous ideas to celebrate!
Did you know that 40 percent of Idaho is covered in trees? Idaho is 10th in forestland, 12th in timberland, and 5th in wilderness! So, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or prefer cozy indoor activities, there are plenty of places to explore and breathtaking sights to see in any of the nine national forests in the Gem State!
Skiing and Snowboarding
Idaho boasts some of the best ski resorts in the country. From taking turns down Bald Mountain in Sun Valley to chasing powder on the backside of Bogus Basin or enjoying a ride on the gondola on Silver Mountain– you will find top-notch ski destinations in national forests across the state. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you can hit the slopes and experience the thrill of gliding down snow-covered mountains.
If you want a more tranquil winter activity with a twist of adventure, try snowshoeing. Idaho offers numerous trails for snowshoeing enthusiasts. You can explore the serene beauty of places like Harriman State Park, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, or even the foothills around Boise. Caribou-Targhee National Forest is a winter wonderland of epic proportions where you can explore the forest’s backcountry trails on snowshoes and connect with nature.
Hot Springs Soaking
Idaho is known for its natural hot springs, and winter is an ideal time to visit them. Imagine soaking in a warm pool while surrounded by snow-covered landscapes. Make your way to the Payette National Forest and soak up the steam at Burgdorf Hot Springs, or take a short drive to the Boise National Forest and relax those muscles at Kirkham or Pine Flat Hot Springs. There’s nothing quite like being one with all that nature has to offer!
If you’re a hiking enthusiast, the snow shouldn’t deter you. Hike along Palisades Creek or take in the breathtaking views of the Sawtooth Mountains and McGown Peak. Or keep it simple and park and hike in the accessible trails in the Boise Foothills, Ponderosa State Park, or Brundage Mountain! Make sure to wear appropriate gear and be prepared for the colder temperatures.
Winter Wildlife Watching
Idaho’s wildlife is just as active during the winter as any other season. Consider taking a wildlife-watching tour to spot animals like elk, deer, and bald eagles in their natural habitat. The Teton Valley and the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge are great places to start your winter wildlife adventure, but if you don’t want to have to trek too far off the beaten path, take a Hap and Florence Points sleigh ride for a chance to view Rocky Mountain Elk and other wildlife in Long Valley, nestled in the mountains of central Idaho!
Cozy Cabin Getaways
Snowcapped mountains, scenic drives, and towns that belong in a painting are just a few key components of what makes the mountains of Idaho a magical place. For those who prefer a more relaxed winter experience, book a cozy cabin in one of Idaho’s scenic locations. If you seek simplicity, look no further than this off-grid timber-framedcabin nestled in Challis or the Cascade Dome in Cascade, Idaho! Whether it’s a cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains or a dreamy chalet in McCall– enjoy the peace and tranquility of the winter season while staying warm by the fireplace.
If you crave speed and excitement, snowmobiling is one of Idaho’s most popular winter activities in Idaho. From exploring the vast powder terrain and pristine backcountry areas like the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Salmon-Challis National Forest, or Payette National Forest to enjoying an afternoon trail ride, Idaho’s snowmobiling won’t disappoint.
“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” -John Muir
From adrenaline-pumping adventures to a weekend away in an off-grid cabin– Idaho is overflowing with options for playing and staying. A day spent in nature is never a day wasted, so bundle up and enjoy what our beautiful state has to offer!