Learn about the
Idaho’s great skiing country by reading Winter Fun in
Idaho-ho-ho by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA Member.
It features a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus
all you'll need to know to plan your trip including getting
there, objective information on places to stay and eat, and
things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a
summary of the contact information for your easy reference.
Winter Fun in Idaho-ho-ho
by Charlie Spence, Travel
Writer and WTA Member
Idaho has more than 7,200 miles of trails for snowmobiling
When the wintry winds start blowing, some folks hunker down and
hibernate; others head for the sunny climes, while many seek out the
snow-blanketed trails and slopes. One of the top places to play in the
winter is the state with some of the most varied scenery and
recreational sites in the country—Idaho.
Whether a beginner or a seasoned expert, the deep-packed snow
beckons under ice-blue skies. Almost any part of the state offers a
diversity of winter playgrounds. Idaho has 17 basic Alpine ski areas,
35 trail networks for Nordic, and 7,200 miles of snowmobiling trails.
Since Sun Valley opened up the area in1936 as a winter playground,
Idaho has been increasing the offerings of snow recreation
opportunities. On the west side of the Rockies, Idaho misses much of
the cold arctic air that sweeps into the eastern states while still
getting the heavy snowfalls that make for excellent winter sports
conditions. Idaho has so many fine places for lovers of winter that it
is difficult to select any one area. Pick almost any part of the state
and there’s a ski resort to suit your talents and your wallet. For
these suggestions of travel destinations, we have selected only the
southwest portion of the state, principally because of its main city,
Boise that is easily accessible. Boise itself lures visitors for its
many attractions. Founded in 1863 as a military outpost along the
Oregon Trail, the city offers many recollections of this historic era,
worthy of several days’ visit before heading to the ski runs.
Snowboarding at Brundage Mountain
Throughout the state, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
provides plowed parking and restrooms. Snowshoeing is allowed on most
trails, but it is wise to check first.
Just 16 miles north of Boise you’ll find Bogus Basin with 52 runs
for skiing down a 1,800-foot vertical drop. The average snowfall is
250 inches. There are lodges at the base and at mid-point. Skiable
terrain is 2,600 acres during the day and 165 acres at night. The
season usually runs from right after Thanksgiving until April.
To the west of Boise is the long-popular Sun Valley. Bald Mountain
has a 3,400-foot vertical drop, 14 lifts, and 65 runs. Wide ranges of
accommodations are available, and there are package plans, shopping,
dining and apres-ski
facilities. The Friedman Memorial airport is near with regular airline
service and daily direct flights from Los Angeles during the ski
season. Ground transportation to the area is available from the Boise
Airport that is served by several scheduled airlines.
About 100 miles north of Boise, the area around the town of McCall
provides the site for suburb outdoor activities. McCall has earned the
title of "Ski Town USA" because it is the home of several Olympic
skiers. It is located on the shores of Payette Lake (which also makes
the area an inviting resort area for a summer get-away). The area
offers Alpine and Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Just three miles
outside the city is the Little Ski Hill Alpine ski trail. The drop
here is 405 feet and there are four runs. It is a fine place for the
less-experienced skiers as well as their more experienced companions.
Eight miles north of McCall, Brundage Mountain offers a 1,800-foot
drop with 51 runs.
The very adventurous can take off on a snow cat ski journey that
takes you into the pristine, snowy lands of the Payette National
Forest. Here there are 19,000 acres of snowy slopes and powdery bowls.
The local offerings include half-day, full day, or overnights with the
tour operator providing a yurt for your night comfort. (For the
uninitiated, a simple explanation of snow cat skiing has the party
traveling to unspoiled areas in large vehicles that power through the
snow on tank-like tracks to carry the skiers into backcountry
If you like taking off on your own, all of Idaho’s snowmobile
trails are clearly marked, but if you want to go off the trails, it is
wise to hire a guide to show you through the picturesque landscapes.
For the Nordic skiers who seek variety, the Idaho Department of
Parks and Recreation operates a program called Park N’ Ski—thirteen
separate areas across the state. You may purchase an annual or
temporary permit to enter the park areas without paying the regular
entrance fees on each visit.
Snow tubing is another unique sport you will find just two miles
south of McCall. This is the fastest growing winter sport. It requires
no lessons and no equipment. Participants sit in a comfortable tube
and enjoy a cushioned ride down hill. The snow tube site here carries
you over a 700-foot long path on an 85-foot drop.
Some of the resorts are family oriented while others offer relaxing
activities, excellent restaurants, and lively nightlife. Each part of
Idaho offers breath-taking beauty and each offers something a little
How To Get There
Air service to Idaho is available from scheduled air
carriers at six cities in the state, including Boise and Sun
Valley. The Boise Airport boasts an average of 280 days of
sunshine a year. Flights to and from Boise make connections in
23 different cities, primarily in the west. For airlines that
serve, and schedules, check their web:
and click airport.
Where To Stay
Your choices of lodging facilities are as varied as the
scenery and the kinds of winter sports you enjoy. Rates range
from $50 to $800 a night. Many places offer packages that
include lodging and skiing, tubing, or other activities. A few
of the choices around McCall include:
- Best Western: rates from around $93
- Brundage Inn: rates from around $100
- Brundage Bungalows: rates from around $129
You can also check rates and book your room and rental car at
Online Travel Booking Service
Hotel savings can be significant.