Snowmobiling Idaho Après Ski

Special thanks to Heather Burke, ski guru at and photographer Greg Burke of and for allowing us to post this story.
Snowmobiling in Idaho's northern panhandle.

Snowmobiling in Idaho’s northern panhandle. Photo by Greg Burke

Snowmobiling in Idaho was not on my bucket list, but it should have been.

Being a skier, I know I should have been cross-country skiing peacefully through the glorious pines of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest near Silver Mountain Ski Resort instead. But it was way more fun to be on a Polaris sled screaming along the groomed snow trails covering 40 miles (that would have been a lot of Nordic skiing) with spectacular views of the Coeur d’Alene River, and the Silver Valley.

An afternoon tour with Adventure Sports Rentals made for great afternoon adventure during our Idaho ski trip. First, it’s a great way to explore Idaho’s backcountry, a snow globe of 700 miles of trails – with a guide and well-kept, well-powered snowmobiles. Second, it’s beautiful, jaw dropping scenery around each turn. We saw a moose thrashing around in the trees, cougar tracks, and a bird’s-eye view of Silver Mountain, where we’d skied the day prior. And finally, snowmobiling in Idaho is a rush. On one straightaway we went full throttle, I looked down ever so quickly to see 70mph on my sled’s speedometer.

Riding is technical like skiing (weighting your turns, accelerating, anticipating), while providing a super scenic adventure. I recognize the hypocrisy that a snowmobile brings you to beautiful wilderness settings, but makes a lot of noise and fumes in the process. So it’s a once in a lifetime (ok, maybe twice) indulgence. If you get the chance to snowmobile in northern Idaho, go.

See Idaho's spectacular scenery by snow machine. Photo by Greg Burke

See spectacular scenery by snow machine. Photo by Greg Burke

There are many groomed and ungroomed snowmobile trails throughout Idaho giving the rider access to open powder riding, shadowy mountain trails and scenic vistas.  Explore to learn more about our trails, services and lodging options.  And when you find yourself in a beautiful spot, take a moment to turn off your machine and enjoy the view. 

Take a Break from the Chill with Indoor Exhibits and Activities

Everyone loves the winter in Idaho. Between epic snowboarding at celebrated resorts, champion college football teams competing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, winter carnivals in cities from McCall to Lava Hot Springs, to a ski-in culinary adventure at Blue Moon Yurt, there’s a little outdoor escapade for everyone available in an Idaho winter. The sites are beautiful, the adventures are thriving, and the temperatures are cold… of course. For some of us, a break from the frigidness can be exactly what the doctor ordered to get us back in the spirit of winter!

Without entering a semi-serious relationship with your Netflix account, we still encourage some extreme indoor activity during Idaho’s winter (and if you must, spend some quality time with Napoleon Dynamite, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary since being filmed in Idaho). A little R and R never hurt anyone, so check out a few of these delightful Idaho offerings:

Cardinals player charging on the hardwood.

Credit North Idaho College Athletics.

College Basketball
Unlike college football, college basketball is enjoyed in the comfort of a climate-controlled environment. All your favorite teams from across the state, the College of Idaho Yotes, Boise State University Broncos, University of Idaho Vandals, College of Southern Idaho Eagles, North Idaho College Cardinals, Lewis-Clark State College Warriors, Northwest Nazarene University Crusaders, and the Idaho State University Bengals have packed schedules which are bound to be a good time for the whole family! Check out the teams’ websites for updated schedules and information.

The Supreme Price film poster.

The Supreme Price will screen at the Family of Woman Film Festival. Credit FWFF

Family of Woman Film Festival
The Family of Woman Film Festival was founded to bring attention to the issues confronting women and girls around the world through compelling cinematic stories. The 8th annual Family of Woman Film Festival, with the theme, Women and Their Dreams, will present a selection of films about exceptional women and girls who have taken control of their destinies. This beautifully composed event will have screenings in Sun Valley and Boise, February 23 – March 1, 2015.

Recommended eat while in Sun Valley: Enoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar

Crime Scene Insects at the Museum of Idaho.

Crime Scene Insects at the Museum of Idaho.

CSI: Crime Scene Insects
January 23 – April 11, 2015, be sure to make a voyage to the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls to discover the fascinating field of forensic entomology and learn the secrets of crime solving bugs in this rotating exhibition. CSI: Crime Scene Insects, inspired by the hit TV show, CSI Miami, offers visitors a rare opportunity to learn more about the mysterious world of crime scene investigation.

Packed with interactive components, visitors can observe real crime scene insects including: carrion beetles, dermestid (flesh-eating) beetles, blowflies and their maggots, and even investigate recreated crime scenes to collect evidence and solve the crimes.

Recommended eat while in Idaho Falls: The Snakebite Restaurant

Idaho Fries, 1963-68, neon, glass, and bronze, Gift of the artist.

Matter of Taste exhibit. IMAGE: Billy Apple, Idaho Fries, 1963-68, neon, glass, and bronze, Gift of the artist.

A Matter of Taste: Food for Thought
Through February 15, 2015, the Boise Art Museum invites visitors into a conversation about taste – what it is and how it is established, in their exhibit A Matter of Taste: Food for Thought. Taste is personal, and food is universal.  Food is an important part of Idaho’s identity, fully engrained in our minds and history. You get to make choices and decide your own preferences in developing a taste for food as well as art.

Recommended eat while in Boise: Saint Lawrence Gridiron

So this winter, take a break from the snow and check out an indoor offering or two. With so much happening in Idaho, it really is the ideal vacation spot any time of year, regardless of the climate!

Valentine’s Ideas With an Idaho Twist

Valentine’s Day is a little less than a month away – time to start planning that ‘something special’ for your ‘special someone.’ Check out these romantic pursuits with an Idaho twist. From steamy to snowy, they are sure to make any celebration special.

Hot mineral pools await at Lava Hot Springs.

Hot mineral pools await at Lava Hot Springs.

Thinking about a romantic soak in a hot tub? Lava Hot Springs has you covered with geothermal hot springs ranging from 102˚ to 112˚ F. The five mineral water hot pools are open year-round, and on cold winter days, guests are blanketed by rising steam. A number of the hotels and inns in Lava Hot Springs also have private soaking pools, many offering couples’ massages and other spa services. Developed and undeveloped hot springs can be found around the state. If you venture to one of the more remote springs – requiring cross country skis, snow shoes or a snow machine – the scenic journey and often serene experience can’t be beat. Learn more at

Follow the lighted path to the Blue Moon Yurt for a gourmet dinner.

Follow the lighted path to the Blue Moon Yurt for a gourmet dinner.

What could be better than a moonlight stroll with your sweetheart? How about a moonlight snowshoe trek to a cozy yurt for dinner? The Blue Moon Yurt offers a unique winter culinary adventure in Ponderosa State Park in McCall. It combines an exciting one-mile cross country ski or snowshoe walk through the park to a rustic yurt where a gourmet ethnic meal awaits.

Ready to hit the slopes at Silver Mountain Resort.

Ready to hit the slopes at Silver Mountain Resort.

How about a piece of silver for your sweetie? Head up to the Silver Valley in northern Idaho for a ski date at Silver Mountain Resort near Kellogg. The longest single stage gondola in the United States takes you 3.1 miles from the base village to the slopes where you may enjoy two mountains with 73 trails, 1,600 acres of terrain, 2,200 vertical feet and more than 300 inches of snow annually. They have snow tubing, too! Back in the village, warm up at Silver Rapids Waterpark, where the temperature is always a perfect 84 degrees, the hot tub is bubbling and the drinks are cold.  And if you’re looking for love, check out Silver’s Speed Dating on Chair 3 event on Valentine’s Day!

Winter dining at the Roundhouse.

Winter dining at the Roundhouse. Courtesy Sun Valley Resort

Want to scream your love from the mountain tops? There is no better place than Idaho’s ski resorts to make this bold statement. With 18 ski areas, you may choose from a variety of mountain tops with varying heights and views. A delicious dinner at the mid-slope Roundhouse restaurant, high above the towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley would add a nice romantic touch. Or head to Bogus Basin near Boise, or Kelly Canyon near Ririe for some night skiing– and make the most of the chairlift ride to the top.

Bald eagle in a pine tree.

Bald eagles are common in northern Idaho. Photo credit: Drew Avery

If, as you read this, you are thinking love is for the birds, never fear. Eagle watching is quite popular as a solitary activity or is easily enjoyed with friends or family. And eagles have nothing to do with romance or Valentine’s Day. They do mate for life, but don’t let that get you down. Seeing eagles in flight is truly uplifting. Northern Idaho is a bald eagle spotting mecca. Favorite locations to see nesting pairs include the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, Perkins Lake and McArthur Lake Wildlife Management Area near Bonners Ferry. They are most abundant along Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Pend Oreille, and sections of the Priest River in northern Idaho. Sightings at Wolf Lodge Bay and Beauty Bay are particularly rich viewing areas on Lake Coeur d’Alene. (Find more Idaho eagle watching locations here.)

Romantic, cozy and rustic inns are located across the state. Visit the Idaho Bed & Breakfast Association or for lodging and visitor information.

Idaho Winter Giveaways for January

Vitamin ID Winter Giveaways graphicPost-holiday blues got you down? Are you full to the brim with fruit cake and turkey? Never fear, Idaho Tourism is here to brush away those lazy feelings and get you back into the spirit of snow! All winter long, Idaho Tourism and Ski Idaho have been giving away prize packages as part of the Vitamin ID Winter Sweepstakes to get you off the couch and into the mountains. Idaho winter giveaways  include lift tickets to Idaho’s famous mountain resorts, luxurious lodging stays, and much more!

Idaho is a winter wonderland that we want everyone to explore. Be sure to check the website each week for the newest prize and adventures. Enter at for your chance to win!

January Prizes and Post-Dates:

1/2/2015: Two days of lift tickets at Schweitzer Mountain and a two night stay at the Selkirk Lodge

1/9/2015: Two lift tickets to ski Tamarack Resort and a two night stay at the Lodge at Osprey Meadows

1/16/2015: Two lift tickets and a two night stay at the Sun Valley Resort

1/23/2015: Four lift tickets to Lookout Pass and a two night stay at the Stardust Motel

1/30/2015: Five lift tickets to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area and a two night stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Boise Downtown

Top Spots for Ice Skating in Idaho

Ice skate.I remember the winters as a young girl in northern Indiana. No snow was too much. No cold was too cold. We loved to be outside sledding, building snowmen and constructing snow forts to protect against incoming snowballs. All the neighborhood kids had ice skates. We would seek out and skate on frozen puddles created by neighborhood construction. And there was a pond just across the road that the owners allowed us to clear for ice skating and hockey.

After school and on weekends, the pond was a hub of activity: little kids on wobbly ankles holding hands with their moms; bigger kids skating along the shoreline, going as fast as we could; hockey kids who took over one end of the pond as their own. It is a bit sad that my boys have yet to have the experience of ice skating outdoors, where dressing for the elements serves double duty as padding against falls. They have been on the indoor rinks, however, and can attest to the fact that ice is cold and hard, but for the fun, it is all worth it.

For me, there is an element of freedom in ice skating. Maybe it’s the same freedom skiers feel on the slopes; or what mountain bikers feel on a scenic trail. Grab your kids or your sweetie and head onto the ice this winter. There are plenty of ice skating spots in Idaho – inside and out – to start new traditions, provoke laughter and make more memories. Don’t forget the hot cocoa piled with marshmallows for a perfect ending.  I’d better go lace up my skates…..

Outdoor Ice Skating Areas

The Village at Meridian, Meridian – this outdoor rink is surrounded by shops and restaurants and decorated with sparkling lights. The rink is open daily through late-February (conditions permitting) and skate rentals are available. Contact The Village at 208.888.1701 for more information.

Ice skating at the outdoor ice rink at Sun Valley Lodge.

Fun on the ice at the Sun Valley Lodge.

Sun Valley Ice Rink, Sun Valley – The Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink has some of the best views in the valley. Olympian Tara Lipinski, who won the figure skating gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, ranks it among her favorite rinks.  They also have an indoor rink. Both are open daily and offers skate rentals. Call the ice center for more information at 208.622.2194.

Round Lake State Park near Sandpoint – This forested state park sits at the edge of 58-acre Round Lake and it’s a beautiful place to skate when conditions allow. Bring your own skates and contact the park at 208.263.3489 for more information.

Hailey Ice, Hailey – Located at the rodeo grounds, the main arena is transformed each winter into an outdoor ice rink that offers free skating for all. Loaner skates and gear are available daily from 2:30-6:00pm Monday-Friday, and 10:00am-6:00pm on Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting). Call 208.720.3086 for more information.

The Sawtooth Mountains are a beautiful backdrop when ice skating in Stanley.

The Sawtooth Mountains are a beautiful backdrop in Stanley.

Stanley Ice Rink, Stanley – You can’t beat the spectacular views of the Sawtooth Mountains at this community rink!  Located on a hilltop across from Pioneer Park and overlooking the town, this ice rink is open from dawn until 10:00 p.m. for skating under the lights.  A popular spot for hockey and curling, skates are available to borrow, but remember to bring your own thermos of hot cocoa.  Contact the Stanley Chamber of Commerce for more information at 208.774.3411 or 1.800.878.7950.

Kotler Ice Arena, Victor – At this beautiful outdoor, covered ice rink, skating while the sun sets over the Big Hole mountains is an experience you won’t want to miss! Public open skating sessions are held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Skaters will enjoy the warming hut, skate rentals, pro-shop and concessions. Call 208.201.5356, 208.399.2423 or check the arena schedule online.

Ice skating on Christina Potters Ice Rink.

Skating on Christina Potters Ice Rink.

Christina Potters Outdoor Rink, Ketchum – This naturally frozen rink located in the shadow of Bald Mountain is reportedly the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, measuring almost two acres. The rink is located in Atkinson Park and is usually operational through mid-February, weather permitting. The park recreation center is open daily except on holidays, where skates, helmets, hockey sticks, pucks, goals, broom ball, and balance assists are all free for public use. Call 208.726.7820 for more information.

Sandpoint City Beach or Sand Creek below the Cedar Street Bridge, Sandpoint – Conditions permitting, these are great skating spots along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille. Skaters also frequent the south end of Third Avenue where it terminates at the old pier. Contact the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce for more information at 1.800.800.2106 or 208.263.2161.

Brush Lake Picnic Area and Smith Lake near Bonners Ferry and Robinson Lake Campground near Eastport are popular for ice skating. Bring your own skates, and contact the Panhandle National Forests Bonners Ferry Ranger District at 208.267.5561 to check road access and lake ice conditions.

Indoor Ice Skating Rinks

Entrance lobby at Idaho IceWorld in Boise.

Ice skating and hockey are popular at Idaho IceWorld in Boise.

Idaho IceWorld, Boise – IceWorld has two regulation rinks, skate rentals, an arcade and sandwich and pizza restaurants. Large viewing windows let you keep an eye on the action while enjoying a snack (and keeping your toes warm). Public skate times are offered daily. Call 208.608.7716 for more information.

Manchester Ice & Events Centre, McCall – Located in the center of town, across the street from Payette Lake, the facility houses a regulation NHL sized hockey rink, grandstand and mezzanine seating and indoor and outdoor lake view dining at Skater Things Café. Manchester offers daily public skate times and rentals. Call 208.634.3570 for more information.

Joe Marmo/Wayne Lehto Ice Arena, Idaho Falls – Considered southeastern Idaho’s premier ice facility, the arena has a regulation ice surface, rental shop, snack bar, and locker room facilities. Contact the rink (208.612.8367) or recreation center (208.612.8480) for more information.

Tiny tots learn to skate.

Kids of all ages enjoy time ice skating at the Palouse Ice Center.

Palouse Ice Rink, Moscow – Home to hockey teams and figure skating clubs, the Palouse Ice Rink is open for ice skating through early April. The three-quarter size ice sheet offers public skate times and rentals. Call the rink at 208.882.7188 for more information.

Frontier Ice Arena, Coeur d’Alene – Most public skating sessions range in duration from an hour to two hours in length and are held on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with extra hours through New Year’s weekend. Concessions are open during public skating and skate rentals are available. Call 208.765.4423 for more information.

LC Arena, Lewiston – The practice site for the Washington State University hockey team, the LC Arena offers public skating on most days with skate rental and concessions. Call 208.798.7845 to confirm public skate times or check the online calendar.

Idaho Sleigh Rides — A Snowy Good Time!

Dashing through the snow; In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go; Laughing all the way….

Jingle Bells” is one of the most commonly sung American Christmas songs in the world since being published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the autumn of 1857. Although it is now associated with the Christmas and holiday season, it was originally written to be sung for American Thanksgiving.

The problem is that there isn’t always enough snow on the ground at Thanksgiving for Ol’ Dobbin to get up any speed as he’s pulling a load of happy passengers, but by Christmas, there are plenty of places you can get cozy under a blanket as you shush along to the merry sound of sleigh bells. Reservations are often required so plan ahead.

Enjoying powder snow and blue skies with Idaho Sleigh Rides.

Enjoying powder snow and blue skies with Idaho Sleigh Rides.

For a fun family outing, head to Garden Valley, home to Idaho Sleigh Rides. Bring along the whole gang; they have several teams and sleighs to accommodate larger groups, or if you would like some alone time with a special someone, there’s smaller sleighs for a more romantic ride. The flashy paint horses definitely ‘know the way’ since they were raised right there on the ranch. After the ride, warm up with a hot drink or a complete Dutch oven meal.

Garden Valley Sleigh Rides promises a scenic ride.

Garden Valley Sleigh Rides promises a scenic view.

If the snow is scant, don’t despair. Garden Valley Trail Rides has both sleighs and wagons, so bundle up and bring your friends for an old fashioned trail ride through Garden Valley. Enjoy a hot drink while enjoying the beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife, including elk, deer, and maybe even fox. Roast marshmallows by the fire and remember to bring your camera to capture the fun.

Bogus Creek Outfitters prepare for a sunset sleigh ride.

Bogus Creek Outfitters prepare for a sunset sleigh ride.

For a memorable evening, head up the mountain from Boise towards Bogus Basin and spend time with the fine folks at Bogus Creek Outfitters. Much more than a sleigh ride, Bogus Creek Outfitters will whisk you away in their sleigh to a warm and cozy cabin in the woods where you will be greeted with a warm fire, live acoustic music and hot drinks. Feast on a grilled steak and prawn dinner with all the fixin’s, then relax and enjoy some cowboy entertainment. The dinner sleigh ride is perfect for a date night or a friends and family outing.

On a Hap & Florence Points sleigh ride, you see elk up close.!

If you’ve never been within a few feet of a wild elk, you need to take a ride with Hap and Florence Points Sleigh Rides outside of Donnelly to see Rocky Mountain elk and other wildlife that winter along the Gold Fork River. The elk dine on hay provided by your hosts, so they’re happy to hang around while you admire them in their natural habitat, and on their terms. It’s an experience like no other. A camera isn’t required, but you might kick yourself if you don’t bring one!

Entertainment at Mountain River Ranch.

Entertainment at Mountain River Ranch.

A Winter Dinner Theater experience at Mountain River Ranch, northeast of Idaho Falls, promises fun for all ages. A pork loin or prime rib dinner, accompanied by an Idaho baker (of course) is being prepared as you kick back, sing songs, and sip cider on the sleigh ride to the Meadow Muffin Theatre. Enjoy the “Live Old West Holiday Show” complete with singing and performance skits.

Draft horses stand ready for a Sun Valley sleigh ride.

Celebrate the season with a sleigh ride at the Sun Valley Resort.

A visit to Sun Valley is already magical, but when you add a classic horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snowy hills the experience is even more enchanting. The Sun Valley Resort offers scheduled half-hour tours, or for a longer, more memorable night, take a sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin for dinner with family and friends. Round-trip scenic rides are available Tuesday through Saturday and nightly during the Christmas holidays and Presidents’ week.

Seeing elk on a sleigh ride at Teton Mountain Ranch.

The elk love to have their pictures taken at Teton Mountain Ranch.

If you’re in Eastern Idaho and have a hankering to take a sleigh ride, head to Teton Mountain Ranch in Victor. On your hour-long ride, curious elk will get very close to the sleigh so they can get a good look at you. Some of them even like their ears scratched. Dress appropriately because you could get nuzzled! These elk like to have their pictures taken, so be sure to bring a camera to document this family-fun outing.

Draft horses at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

Draft horses at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

At Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in northern Idaho, draft horses Bud, Velvet, Bill, Larry, Queen, Justice, Lady, Abbie, Jake and Julie are ready and willing to pull their sleighs through the Selkirk Mountain trails. The ranch sleighs can accommodate large groups, small groups, or even a couple looking for a special one-horse open sleigh romantic adventure. Enjoy a sleigh ride and country gourmet dinner served in the lodge, or complete your nostalgic winter experience with hot drinks and popcorn served by the lodge’s grand fireplace.

A gourmet dinner awaits at Linn Canyon Ranch.

A gourmet dinner awaits at Linn Canyon Ranch.

Located in the Victor area, Linn Canyon Ranch offers sleigh rides and dinner at the ranch through March. Traveling at dusk, riders frequently spot elk and other wildlife that call the canyon home. Bundled under warm blankets you will glide around the ranch in a sleigh pulled by the ranch’s Percheron draft horses.

Here’s one final bit of “Jingle Bells” trivia: a sleigh ride gave an unescorted couple a rare chance to be together, unchaperoned, in distant woods or fields, with all the opportunities that afforded. Sleigh rides were the nineteenth-century equivalent of taking a girl to a drive-in movie in the 1950s and early 1960s, so there was a somewhat suggestive and scintillating aspect to the song. Find the original lyrics and “missing” verses online.

Start the New Year with Idaho Winter Festivals

Winter has arrived!  Grab your coat and mittens and make plans to enjoy great family-friendly events and activities. These Idaho winter festivals have everything you need for starting traditions and making memories.

Fishermen line the shores during the Soda Springs Fishing Derby.

The fishing derby is a popular activity during Soda Spring’s Winter Carnival.

Winter Carnival and Fishing Derby, January 17
Must See:  Fishing Derby
Held in Soda Springs, the Fishing Derby will be hosted at the Clear Springs Fish Hatchery with registration beginning at 6:30 am, door prizes and and fishing from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m..  Two fish are included in $20 adult registration fee, or $5 for children 14 and under.  There will be prizes for the largest fish.  If you’re not fishing, enjoy a free movie at the Idan-Ha Theatre with show times at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 2:30 p.m., or head over to the Geyser Bowl & Pizza Customer Appreciation Day to enjoy one free game of bowling to anyone 18 and under and a $1.00 game to those over 18 with the donation of canned goods for the Food Bank. Call ahead to reserve your game time between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Children ages 0-14 can enjoy free gifts and lunch at the Enders Hotel after each movie showing.  Celebrate all weekend with Winter Carnival lodging and dining specials.


Dogsled racing at the Teton Valley Snow Fest.

Dogsled racing at the Teton Valley Great Snow Fest.

Teton Valley Great Snow Fest, January 23-February 1
Must see:  Dogsled Race
The 2015 Teton Valley Great Snow Fest will include snow sculpting, ice sculpting, skijoring, snowmobile snowcross competitions, fat bike races, dogsled races, the Backcountry Film Festival, kids igloo building, Geo-Tourism Center exhibits, a snow plane rally and exhibition, nordic races, a comedy show, ice skating, wildlife cross country ski tour and the festive Snow Ball!  There are plenty of lodging and dining options in Teton Valley – learn more.

Rexburg SnowFEST, January 31
Must See: Figure 8 Car Race
Here’s a sure bet to beat those winter blues. Bundle up the kids and come celebrate winter with lots of snow activities at Smith Park in Rexburg, ID.  Kids of all ages will enjoy the Snow Bank Treasure Hunt, sledding and downhill sled races, wagon rides, creating graffiti in the snow using spray bottles with food coloring, and watching a Figure 8 car race.  The hearty may choose to participate in the Polar Bear Swim with a hot tub warm-up as reward.  Everyone may enjoy a steaming cup of hot cocoa in the festival warming hut.

Snowbike racers during the McCall Winter Carnival.

Snowbike racers on the course during the McCall Winter Carnival.

McCall Winter Carnival, January 30-February 8
Must see: Snow Bike Race

Celebrating its 50th year in 2015, Winter Carnival is a 10 day celebration of all things winter. Favorites include fireworks over the lake, Mardi Gras Parade, Children’s Torchlight Parade, main stage music, Sharlie’s (polar) plunge, and the famous snow sculptures. Bring your appetite and a sense of adventure and join in the fun at the Beer & Gear Festival, Spirits and Chocolate tasting, wine dinners featuring local wineries, karaoke, bingo, a comedy show, monster dog pull, the high-octane FlashPoint Snow Bike Race, and more.


Brave participants in the Fire & Ice Winter Festival Polar Bear Float.

Fire and Ice Winter Festival, February 6-8
Must see:  Polar Bear Float

Beat the winter blues with a weekend of fun-filled adventure in beautiful Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, during the Fire and Ice Winter Fest. The event features a Polar Bear Float down the Portneuf River where brave contestants compete for the fastest time down the river and for the most original costume in the inner tube flotilla.  There is a Running of the Bulls event, where participants run down Main Street in swimming suits and flip flops just for the fun of it.  After the chilly run, all contestants are rewarded with a soak in Idaho’s World Famous Hot Pools in Lava Hot Springs.  Enjoy zip line adventures, wine tasting, karaoke events, a chili cook-off, casino night, comedy night and an indoor swimming pool carnival for the kids with relays, races, games and prizes.  Don’t miss the torch parade on Lava Hot Springs’ L Mountain.

Laser lights fill the sky at Schweitzer Resort.

Laser lights fill the sky above Schweitzer Resort during the Sandpoint Winter Carnival.

Sandpoint Winter Carnival, February 13-22
Must see:  Laser Light Show

In its 41st year, the Sandpoint Winter Carnival is pure fun celebrating the best of the snowy season, indoors and out.  The 10 days are packed full of entertaining events and activities including a laser light show, ski events at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, the Taste of Idaho with culinary favorites and Idaho wines, Cirque de Sandpoint (featuring a unique group of players, performing various acrobatics, dance routines, firespinning and an aerial show), K-9 Keg Pull, a coffee tasting, and lively parties.  A highlight of the festival, skijoring has a rider on horseback pulling a skier at high speeds around a course of jumps and gates. On the final Saturday, enjoy a spectacular fireworks display above the snow-covered mountains at Schweitzer.

Idaho Ski Areas Serve Up Holiday Break Fun

There are just a couple more weeks until schools, colleges and universities take their holiday breaks.  Before your out of town guests start arriving or the stresses start to be a bit much, make plans to play at Idaho’s ski areas.  Here are some on- and off-slope ideas to entertain young and old into the new year.

Sun Valley Torchlight Parade. Credit Tory Taglio

Sun Valley Torchlight Parade. Credit Tory Taglio

Winter Wonderland Festival at Sun Valley Resort

December 13 – Winter Wonderland Party in the Village
Come join the kick-off celebration of the holiday season from 1:00-4:00 p.m. featuring Santa, the popular kids’ village train and live holiday music performances.

December 20 – Tree Lighting Ceremony in the Village
This iconic celebration will feature Santa, the Sun Valley Carolers, live holiday music, free cookies & hot cocoa, free “wrap-n-run” gift wrapping at Signatures (2:00 – 8:00 p.m.), and more. Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m., Tree Lighting at 6pm.

December 20-30 – Sun Valley Carolers
The traditional Sun Valley Carolers will perform throughout the Village and at various Sun Valley restaurants.

December 23 and 24 – Brunch with Santa at the Clubhouse
A tradition continues in a beautiful new location at the Clubhouse. Diners choose from an a la carte menu featuring many of the traditional Clubhouse favorites, as well as special holiday brunch selections from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Reservations are required, (208) 622-2800.

Brundage Mountain Lights Up the Night with fireworks.

Brundage Mountain Lights Up the Night!

Light Up the Night at– Brundage Mountain

Brundage Mountain will hold its annual Light Up the Night party on December 27. This holiday party features a Torchlight Parade, slopeside fireworks show and a holiday tree bonfire. The parking lot bonfire and party starts when the lifts close at 4:30 p.m. Bring you stripped down Christmas tree and throw it on the bonfire or join the festivities on the third floor of the lodge with live music from Jeff Crosby and the Refugees starting at 4:00 p.m. The Torchlight Parade will begin around 5:30 p.m. followed by the fireworks show at the parade’s conclusion.  The festivities and fireworks are free, and there will be plenty of standing room to watch the light show in the base area and on outdoor balconies. Bring a lawn chair if you’d like to relax during the light show and remember to dress for winter mountain weather conditions.

Celebrations sparkle at Schweitzer Mountain.

Celebrations sparkle at Schweitzer Mountain.

Holiday Celebrations at Schweitzer Mountain Resort

December 19 through January 4 – Snow Tubing
Various Times – Two lanes of tubing fun. Hermit’s Hollow will be open for some incredible adventures (conditions permitting).

December 20 and December 23 – Carolers & Cookies
3:00 -4:00 p.m. – Christmas carolers will be in the Selkirk Lodge lobby and strolling in the village spreading holiday cheer. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served and the village Christmas lights will be glowing.

December 23 and 24 – Santa Skis at Schweitzer
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be skiing all around Schweitzer during the day passing out candy to good boys and girls. Enjoy the Balloon Parade, story time with Mrs. Claus and Last Minute Wishes with Santa. The days are filled with Christmas fun!

December 26 through December 30 – Fun Daily Activities
Kids and adults will enjoy these off-slope activities.
11:00 a.m. – Hosted Snowshoe Hike
1:30 p.m. – Kid Crafts
3:00 p.m. – Après music in Taps
3:00 p.m. – Village campfire and treat roasting
5:30 p.m. – Kid’s Night Out

December 28th – Sunset Snowshoe Hike
2:30 – 5:00 p.m. – Hike through majestic old growth forests as the sun sets on a wintery day (weather permitting).

Holiday Festivities at Tamarack Resort

December 20 and 21 – Pictures with Santa
Santa is taking a break from making toys for all the good boys and girls to be at Tamarack Resort! Get your picture taken with Santa and make a donation to support the Little Ski Hill/Payette Lakes Ski Club.

December 25 – Santa Skis for Free
Santa, all your hard work is done, so come dressed in a full Santa suit and your lift ticket today is FREE!  Ho, Ho Ho!

December 31 – Burning Glove Torchlight Parade
Be a part of the annual New Year’s Eve celebration with the Torchlight Ski Parade beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. Enjoy fireworks, bonfires and much more. Join friends and family after the fireworks for a DJ infused dance party in the Canoe Grill and dinner specials in Seven Devils Pub.

New Year’s Eve at Silver Mountain Resort

On December 31, Silver Mountain Resort is offering skiing under the lights until 6:00 p.m. and an extra late tubing session from 5:00-7:00 p.m.  After a day in the snow, warm up at Silver Rapids Water Park and its soothing 85 degrees temperatures. Enjoy a balloon drop, the lazy river duck race and a family New Year’s Celebration in the water park with festivities culminating with a 9:00pm New York City countdown.

Snowboarding Santa at Pomerelle Mountain.

Snowboarding Santa at Pomerelle Mountain.

Holiday Events at Pomerelle Mountain Resort

December 24 — North Pole Style Santa Costume Parade & Ho! Ho! Ho! Contest
Deck yourself out Santa style HEAD to TOE and make some jolly at Pomerelle Mountain! Everyone dressed in a full Santa costume receives a free lift ticket for the day! Also, the Santa with the best and most Ho Ho Ho’s will win two Adult Full Day Lift Ticket certificates to use on future days or to give as gifts.  Secret Santa Skiers and Elves will be watching throughout the day and keeping a tally of those Ho Ho Ho’s!  The Santa Parade begins at 2:00 p.m. on the Magic Carpet followed by awards for the best dressed Santa and Ho! Ho! Ho! contest winner.

December 26 — Night Skiing opens
Ski the slopes from 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays with a $15 lift ticket.

Idaho Winter Giveaways for December

Vitamin ID Winter Giveaways graphicWinter is in full-swing, and what better way to experience the “soul of skiing” than with an Idaho wintery giveaway? Each week, Idaho Tourism and Ski Idaho are giving away a winter wonderland experience through our Vitamin ID Winter Sweepstakes! This is your opportunity to explore Idaho’s famous winter recreation with activities like cat skiing, lift tickets from our spectacular resorts, and winter gear to keep you “cool” on the mountain tops. Be sure to check the website each week for the newest prizes and adventures. Visit for your chance to win!

December Prizes and Post-Dates
11/28/2014: A two night stay at the Selkirk Lodge and two days of lift tickets at Schweitzer Mountain Resort near Sandpoint.

12/5/2014: Five lift tickets to Bogus Basin and a two night stay at Hotel 43 in Boise.

12/12/2014: A two night stay at the Riverside Hot Springs Inn and four lift tickets at Pebble Creek near Lava Hot Springs.

12/19/2014: Five lift tickets to Soldier Mountain Ski Area and a two night stay at Soldier Mountain Ranch in Fairfield.

12/26/2014: A two night stay at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa in Driggs and four lift tickets to Grand Targhee Resort.

Celebrate the Wintery Glow with Holiday Lights

Whether you are visiting for the first time, reconnecting with family or friends, or are a long time Idahoan, nothing says ‘holidays’ like twinkling light displays. Gather your loved ones and check out these favorites.

Twinkling lights at Winter Spirit.

Twinkling lights at Winter Spirit.

Winter Spirit, Lewiston

Ignite the holidays with Winter Spirit! The community lights up with interactive displays and dancing trees in Locomotive Park. A large gas fireplace warms visitors and children are fascinated by the pageant of colors. This holiday tradition uses over a half million lights making Locomotive Park a spectacular site to visit. Enjoy Winter Spirit through January 4th.

Winter Wonderland, Caldwell

Downtown Caldwell’s Indian Creek is illuminated with 500,000 lights. Bridges that span the creek, railings, lamp posts, trees and character displays are covered with twinkling lights. This event brings families and visitors from all over to enjoy the beauty and celebrate the season. Don’t miss the Treasure Valley Night Light Parade on December 6, with over two miles of brightly lit floats!

Winter Garden aGlow.

Winter Garden aGlow.

Winter Garden aGlow, Boise

You’ve seen gardens in bloom in summer, but have you seen one glow in the winter? Explore the Idaho Botanical Garden under a dazzling array of nearly 300,000 lights. Special guest Santa and his reindeer Prancer will visit the North Pole and the Holiday Express Train will wind its way through the glowing winter wonderland. Local choirs will fill the air with music on select nights, so check the website for details! Open Thanksgiving – January 4th.

Cadger Christmas Light Show, Meridian

Reaching internet fame in 2012 with “The Dubstep House,” the Cadger family has created quite the buzz throughout the nation with their creative and imaginative musical Christmas light display. Now moved from their home to a larger location (12000 W. Fairview Ave.), the family’s light display synchronized to music is available for all to see. With over 25 minutes of music and lights, it’s a sure hit for the whole family! Be sure to check the website for updated schedules and events.

Coeur d'Alene Holiday Lights.

Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Lights.

Coeur d’Alene Holiday Lights Show, Coeur d’Alene

From Thanks-giving to New Year’s, bring the family to see the Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show, a wonderland of over 1.5 million lights and the largest on-the-water holiday light display in America. The “Journey to the North Pole” Lake Cruise visits Santa’s North Pole Toy Workshop where America’s tallest floating Christmas trees awaits, towering and twinkling in the evening sky.

Winter Wonderland Festival, Sun Valley

The lights turn on December 1st signaling a month filled with festivities. Stroll through Sun Valley Village enjoying the sparkling lights, window decorations and snow sculptures.

Carolers at the Thunder Mountain Line Santa Express.

Carolers at the Thunder Mountain Line Santa Express.

Thunder Mountain Line: Santa Express, Horseshoe Bend

The Thunder Mountain Line’s Santa Express offers something a bit different. Departing from Horseshoe Bend, ride the rails to Santa’s Village in festively decorated cars while enjoying Christmas music and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. In the Village, take pictures with Santa, and stroll through the Magic Forest to decorate trees with carrot ornaments for Santa’s reindeer.

Holiday Lights Tours, Boise

Take a guided tour of the Boise area’s most magnificently decorated neighborhoods with Boise Township Tours or Boise Trolley Tours. Please visit their websites for more information on departure locations and rates.