An Insider’s Guide to Venture Winter in Idaho


When you’re home to the world’s first chairlift in Sun Valley and known for long runs but short lift lines, it’s easy to focus on skiing when the snow starts to stick. But in Idaho, the winter activities are limitless. Build your ideal winter vacation in Idaho with these snow-packed adventures and events.

More Than Skiing

Idaho’s capital city of Boise is tucked just below Bogus Basin Recreation Area for all the winter attractions you could want. Head up the mountain to sail down the 243-meter slopes astride a mountain or strap into Glade Runner, the only mountain coaster in Idaho. Glade Runner is 1,320 meters of high speed, twisting and turning through the snow-capped trees of the Boise National Forest.

[Image: Glade Runner, Photo credit: Bogus Basin Recreation Area]

On the eastern side of the state, visit Harriman State Park to see waterfalls and wildlife shine in the low temperatures. Harriman State Park near Ashton, just 61 kilometers from Yellowstone National Park, is an ideal stop to spot elk, moose, trumpeter swans and more in this 16,000-acre wildlife refuge. Upper Mesa Falls is just outside the park and is accessible via snowmobile in the winter and is well worth the effort to witness the power of the falls curtained by a snowy backdrop.

[Image: Upper Mesa Falls, Photo credit: Idaho Tourism]

For more opportunities to get out in the snow, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are accessible in nearly every pocket of the state. Rent snowshoes at state parks, like Harriman State Park, Ponderosa State Park near McCall and Farragut State Park near Hayden. Snowmobiles are also available for rent near Priest Lake, McCall, Ashton and more.

Festival Fun

Searching for a unique and unusual winter vacation? Fire & Ice Winterfest in the resort town of Lava Hot Springs is one funky weekend to shake anyone from a winter-induced slumber. The annual winter festival, happening February 7-9, 2020, is three days of crazy adventures, wine tasting, karaoke, comedy and carnival games. The festival is known for the Polar Bear Float on the Portneuf River. As a reward for braving the cold throughout the festival, attendees are rewarded with a dip in Idaho’s famous Lava Hot Springs mineral pools.

[Image: Fire & Ice Winterfest. Photo credit: Idaho Tourism]

Idaho winters are ideal for taking in the beauty of the season and Sandpoint, Idaho is a highlight. Venture to northern Idaho for a hidden retreat at the Sandpoint Winter Carnival, held February 14-23, 2020. The annual festival has been around since 1973 and is filled with events such as the Parade of Lights, K9 Keg Pull and a fireworks show.

[Image: Sandpoint Winter Carnival Fireworks. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism]

Soak It In

If a fully immersive and self-care-filled vacation is more of what you have in mind, Idaho’s your ticket with more hot springs than any other state. Book the semi-outdoor hot spring at Mountain Village Resort in Stanley for prime views of the Sawtooth Mountains.

[Image: Mountain Village Resort Hot Spring. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism]

When traveling through southwestern Idaho, Miracle and Banbury Hot Springs, just two and a half kilometers from each other, have plenty of room to soak your way, from multiple outdoor public pools to more secluded private hot pools.

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