5 Must-Do Winter Adventures in Idaho (2024)
It is not wrong to say that Idaho is the Mecca for adventure seekers. With rugged mountains, mesmerizing and wild rivers, beautiful thermal hot springs, and plenty of scenic views, the state of Idaho is perfect no matter what the season. And the state takes on a completely dreamy look when the winter season comes and a blanket of snow envelops the entire landscape.
The winter months bring with them endless possibilities of adventure and holidaying. From skiing to snowboarding on powdery soft snow to enjoy soaking in a hot spring and attending the famous winter carnivals that take place in several cities, the list of things to indulge in during the winter months in Idaho is endless.
5 Must-Do Winter Adventures in Idaho
Here are some of the best things to do in winter when you visit the beautiful state of Idaho.
1. Explore the Mountainous Landscape Through a Dog Sled
Now it is common for most people to think about Canada or even Alaska when they hear about dog sledding, but it will surprise many to learn that the state of Idaho also has a long history of dog sledding. Dog sledding originated in Idaho all the way back in 1917 with the inauguration of Ashton’s Annual American Dog Derby. This dog derby has become the oldest all-American dog sled race in the country.
This two-day event attracts some of the best dog sled teams across all of North America. The event is held every year during the third week of February, with the race beginning from Ashton in Idaho all the way to the western part of the Yellowstone National Park. The total distance is of 55 miles and the race has all dog owners gearing up to win the title in the 100-yard Mutt Race.
To check out this exciting race and to get started on booking your own dog sled ride through Idaho, you must check out the many dog sled tours that are offered by Silver Sage Mushing, one of the oldest companies involved in dog sledding in the town of Ashton. Once you arrive at the site, you will get the opportunity to learn the basics as you learn how to navigate through the majestic mountainous landscape across the Targhee National Forest in Idaho.
2. Make your Way to Island Park for Snowmobiling and other Winter Activities
Located in the eastern part of Idaho, Island Park is spread over 33 miles and lined with many well-known hotels, dining facilities, and many cozy and luxurious cabins. Island Park is a must-visit for anyone coming to tour the beautiful state of Idaho in the winter months and who wants to enjoy the beauty of the winter season to the maximum possible.
Island Park offers many heart-pounding winter activities that will leave you breathless including fat biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, and many other fantastic activities. After indulging in these adrenaline-pumping activities, you can choose to relax and unwind in some of the greatest hot springs in Idaho in Island Park.
Apart from taking a dip in these hot springs, one of the most sought-after activities in Island Park is snowmobiling. People come from all over the country to take a ride on the 900 miles of perfectly groomed trails. These trails will take you through some of the most beautiful meadows you have ever seen, in between diverging through the trees, embarking onto the slopes, or taking you through to the gorgeous Mesa Falls. There are many other alternative routes also available that you can choose from. While on the way of exploring these groomed snow trails, you will get to take a break to check out many of the famous attractions of Idaho on the way.
3. Don’t Miss Out on the Winter Carnival in McCall
McCall is a stunning resort town located on the western corner of Valley County in Idaho. The annual Winter Carnival of McCall was originally inspired by the Payette Lake Winter Games that were first held all the way back in 1924. Taking place at the end of January, hundreds and thousands of people gather on the streets of McCall to witness this fun-filled community.
The carnival takes place over two weekends and is famous for holding over 100 unique events over ten days to offer the best time to the visitors.
Some of these events include unique theater productions, a Mardi-Gras-style parade, live music shows, and many others. The carnival comes to an end with a breathtaking fireworks show that takes place over the mesmerizing Payette Lake, bringing everything to life.
One of the most fascinating events at the carnival is the Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championships which attracts professional artists from all over the world who come here to display their talent and design some of the most unique snow sculptures at the event. These sculptures remain on display throughout the entire carnival.
4. Trek to the Stunning Frozen Waterfalls of Idaho
Idaho is home to some of the most scenic natural landscapes in the entire United States. There are so many stunning waterfalls in the state that they can be visited at any time of the year. However, they make for the most stunning views when they remain frozen solid in the winter months.
Most visitors get surprised to see just how beautiful the sight of these frozen waterfalls appears. One of the most breathtaking waterfalls to check out is the famous Shoshone Falls, which is actually even taller than Niagara Falls in height. If you are not in the vicinity of the Shoshone Falls, don’t fret as there are plenty more gorgeous, lesser-known waterfalls that are spread out throughout the state. Remember, the sight of these frozen waterfalls is not something you will forget any time soon.
5. Explore the Gorgeous Terrain on a Fat Bike
Fat bikes are something that you will not find everywhere. And the winter months in Idaho bring with them a huge influx of visitors lining up to explore the state on fat bikes. For the unversed, fat bikes are gigantic mountain bikes that are fitted with even bigger tires that make your journey worthwhile. In the olden days, fat bikes were initially only allowed onto the ski mountain Nordic trails located at the Grand Targhee Resort, which is located just over the border from the town of Driggs in Idaho. However, this trend spread rapidly and today Idaho is home to over 20 miles of forested terrain that takes biking enthusiasts through Schweitzer Mountain in the northern part of the state.
If you venture further south of the state, you will find fat bikers roaming around hundreds of miles in the stunning Teton Valley. If you are looking for a good place to begin, head over west of Driggs to the end of the Horseshoe Canyon Road. You can park where the plowing finishes and keep riding to the Packsaddle Road to take a quick trip to the majestic Big Hole Mountains to enjoy a full day of fat biking.