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.

polarbear_doublespan

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 www.idahowinter.org 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.

Idaho Resorts: A Perfect Holiday Retreat

The holidays are a special time, but sometimes they can be a little bit stressful. Here are some Idaho getaways to help you relax, reconnect with friends and family, and enjoy this time of celebration. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, Idaho’s resorts offer the perfect retreats for relaxation and fun. Cross country and downhill skiing, sleigh rides, snow tubing, snow shoeing, spa services and sparkling lights will make this holiday season one to remember.

Teton Springs Lodge & Spa – Victor, Idaho

Snowshoeing near Teton Springs Lodge & Spa.

Snowshoeing near Teton Springs Lodge & Spa.

Get away for a Thanks-giving Escape! Guests staying two nights at the Teton Springs Lodge and Spa November 26 through December 7 will get the third night free – and a jump on the winter ski season at Grand Targhee. Visit Teton Valley area restaurants for a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast or make a traditional dinner in your mountain log cabin or lodge suite, complete with full kitchen. With enough notice, the Teton Springs staff will even do the shopping for you!

If you need a break from turkey dinner leftovers, relish some quiet time in the Stillwaters Spa. Put your feet up, have a pedicure, and let yourself dream of deep powder turns. There’s no better time to begin a new tradition with family & friends.

The Coeur d’Alene Resort – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Holiday Lights on Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Holiday Lights on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The 2014 Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show will illuminate Coeur d’Alene with a stunning 1.5 million lights and more than 255 displays from Nov. 21 to January 4. What began as a few lights decorating the front entrance of the hotel has grown to a family destination celebrated by ABC’s Good Morning America as one of the nation’s best holiday towns. This year’s new attraction is an animated Floating Christmas Tree on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The tree rises 60 feet tall right out of the water, with lights dancing in time to the popular Christmas tune “Carol of the Bells,” and a surprise burst of fireworks. The Holiday Lights Bed & Breakfast package includes a $20 Breakfast credit at Dockside Restaurant or Room Service, two tickets to the Journey to the North Pole Holiday Lights Cruise, and cookies and milk delivered to your room by Santa’s Elves.

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, Idaho

Couple enjoys a winter sleigh ride at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

Sleigh ride at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

Ever wanted to ski down remote hills and perfectly groomed runs in the secluded wilderness and then, at the end of the day, return to a warm cabin and sit in front of a crackling fire? Western Pleasure Guest Ranch’s two-day Schweitzer Ski Vacation package includes hearty country gourmet breakfast in the Grand Lodge, a day of skiing at Schweitzer Ski Resort and a romantic horse drawn sleigh ride for two. The package can be personalized to accommodate preferred lodging (cabin or Grand Lodge), additional guests, another day of skiing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing or spa services.

Shore Lodge – McCall, Idaho

Snow blankets the Shore Lodge in McCall.

Snow blankets the Shore Lodge in McCall.

If you’re looking to hit the reset button between Thanks-giving and Christmas, the Massages and Martini package (starting at $182 per person) at Shore Lodge has you covered. Enjoy a one night stay in a lake view suite, a one-hour treatment at The Cove Spa and a signature huckleberry martini. Order a “Chaser” and extend your stay for a second night for just $61.50 per person and retreat to the immersion pools before returning to reality. The Massages and Martinis package is available through December 18.

The Shore Lodge hosts two signature holiday events in December: Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 13 and Holiday Cookie Decorating on Dec. 20. Guests may also enjoy delicious meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and a New Year’s Eve party will close out the season.

Sun Valley Resort – Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley is a sparkling winter wonderland.

Sun Valley is a sparkling winter wonderland.

Flocked in a frosty coat of white and adorned with shimmering lights, wreaths, and a reverence for tradition and family gathering, few places are as magical during the Christmas season as Sun Valley. With skiing, ice skating, snow tubing, caroling, sleigh rides, dining, shopping and even late night bar hopping, Sun Valley is the place to make winter memories.

The Sun Valley Resort has you covered this holiday season with Thanksgiving, Pre-Holiday and Mid-Winter packages. Everything is on the menu in Sun Valley for a spectacular Thanksgiving Holiday. The Thanksgiving Package includes a delicious and lavish buffet, four night’s lodging and a three-day lift ticket starting at $330 per person.

The Pre-Holiday Package gives early season skiers/boarders a jump on un-crowded slopes and huge savings. Stay and ski November 26 through Sunday, December 21, 2014 starting at $84 per night. The Mid-Winter Package is available January 4, 2015, through March 28, 2015 and you can stay AND ski at Sun Valley Resort starting at only $162 per night, per person, double occupancy.

The resort also has a number of special dining events planned throughout the holidays. Enjoy High Tea, wine tasting, Brunch with Santa, and prix fixe meals at the Ram Restaurant, Elkhorn Clubhouse, Trail Creek Cabin and two thirds up Bald Mountain at the Roundhouse. Great views and great food await!

What’s New at Idaho Ski Areas

Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

Idaho is a popular winter destination for skiers and boarders with 18 ski areas offering beautifully groomed runs and glades of feather-light powder for all skiing and boarding abilities. With more than 28,000 leg-burning vertical feet, 20,000 skiable acres and a wide array of Nordic trails, terrain parks, cat ski trails, heli-ski opportunities and tubing hills, Idaho has become a hub for skiers and boarders seeking blue skies, fresh powder and few crowds. Learn more about Idaho’s ski areas at www.skiidaho.us, or explore all of Idaho’s winter recreation opportunities at www.visitidaho.org/winter.

A family does not need to live in Idaho to take advantage of the Ski Idaho Fifth and Sixth Grade Passport Program. With the passport, any fifth grader can ski or ride free three times and sixth graders can ski or ride free two times at participating ski areas. Families may learn more and submit passport applications at www.skiidaho.us/5th-grade-ski-or-ride-free-passport.

Idaho Winter Giveaways – Get your Vitamin ID!
Idaho winters promise bluebird skies, rays of sunshine, fantastic snow and spectacular skiing and boarding. Idaho Tourism and Ski Idaho want to offer everyone a cure for the wintertime blahs with skiing in Idaho. Beginning in October and running through late February, 2015, visit www.idahowinter.org to enter to win Idaho winter getaways.  New offers are available every Friday. Learn more at www.idahowinter.org.

Here’s a look at what’s new at Idaho’s ski areas and resorts for the 2014-2015 ski season.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Sandpoint
Schweitzer Mountain Resort has invested over $1 million in mountain improvements heading into the 2014-2015 ski season. In order to maintain the quality and expected grooming everyone has grown to expect, Schweitzer purchased a new grooming machine and has upgraded the snow making system on the lower mountain to improve capacity and reliability. Guests will also notice improvements such as a newly paved main parking lot, new bathrooms near the Hermit’s Hollow Tubing Center and new ski and snowboard racks throughout the Ski & Ride Center.

Back by popular demand, Kids & Parents Night Out is returning for a second season. Parents may leave the kids with professional and caring Schweitzer staff for the evening then enjoy some fun in the Village. Pay a $25 deposit for each child ($50 max). Show the evening’s receipts when you pick up the kids and if the spending total is more than your deposit you will get your entire deposit back.

For those looking to learn and share the experience, Schweitzer favorites like Funatics and Mountain Xplorers will continue unchanged this year, but they have changed the Learn to Ski/Snowboard Program. The new “Ski FREE in 3” program is as good as it gets: 3 lessons, 3 lift tickets and 3 equipment rentals for only $159. Those who complete all three steps may ski for FREE from mid-March through the end of the season. As an added bonus, those who bring a friend to join in the process of learning will receive an extra lift ticket to use any time during the season.

Guests will also enjoy new flavors at the Gourmandie. The new chef has reworked the inside space, created a brand new menu and is serving up delicious food in one of the resort’s most popular venues.

The Lake Louise Plus Card is back again this season. The LLPC will provide 3 FREE days, discount lift tickets all season and they are redeemable at Schweitzer and four other top, Canadian resorts. More details coming soon.

The Powder Alliance is bigger and better this year with the addition of its first Canadian resort, Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia. With the purchase of a Schweitzer season pass, skiers receive 3 FREE days at 12 other western resorts. 

Deep powder at Silver Mountain.

Deep powder at Silver Mountain.

Silver Mountain, Kellogg
Silver Mountain offers two mountains, 76 runs and 1,600 acres of terrain, 2,200 vertical feet and more than 300 inches of snow annually. Silver has made a number of improvements in the off-season to enhance the guest experience. A new Mountain Host program will provide staff to answer questions and help acclimate guests to the mountain and resort offerings. Additionally, the ski school has added terrain-based teaching techniques to its lessons, the rental shop was remodeled to improve efficiency and the snow tube hill has added an extra session to accommodate the off-slope crowd.

Two new runs that were roughed in last year, Bootlegger and Shady Lady, were cleaned up, widened and are even better this year. With their length and challenging pitch, they quickly became two of Silver’s most popular runs last season. The progression terrain park has been expanded this year, giving more young and adventuresome skiers the thrill of hitting rails and catching some air. For early risers, Silver now offers a First Tracks program on Saturdays. Enjoy an early morning breakfast, hit the slopes and be the first to lay down tracks in the fresh snow. To see just how much fresh snow awaits, Silver has installed a new night vision webcam on the top of Kellogg Peak to provide real time snow levels and temperature.

This season, guests will have even more time to enjoy all Silver has to offer – the resort has added another week of operations to the end of its regular winter season.

Rolling Thunder Terrain Park at Lookout Pass.

Rolling Thunder Terrain Park at Lookout Pass.

Lookout Pass, Wallace/ Mullan
Jibbers at Lookout Pass will discover numerous improvements and upgrades to the Boarderline (front side), Rolling Thunder and Huckleberry Jam terrain parks this season, including features where tricks can be performed in plain view of guests relaxing on the deck. A “natural themed park” is also in the works, with some special features to come.

With legendary powder and the best snow quality in the region, Lookout Pass is committed to a great grooming product. With this in mind, a new PistenBully Edge Snowcat will join the experienced grooming crew and fleet of five snow grooming machines to insure world class grooming every day.

A higher level of instruction is now available at Lookout for skiers and riders of all ages and abilities. Programs include the Senior Workshop on Mondays, Downhill Divas for women only on Fridays and Next Level for intermediate and advanced skiers on Sundays. Individual and group lessons are offered every day the mountain is open. With so much snowfall at Lookout, Powder Wednesdays will continue this year– the mountain will be open six days a week, Wednesday through Monday.

Sun Valley Sunset.

Sun Valley Sunset.

Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley
Turn through the trees this winter with 25 new acres of glade-skiing in the Frenchman’s area of Bald Mountain. Through the Sun Valley Resort’s partnership with the Ketchum Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service, a large-scale tree-thinning project was completed, disposing of dead trees to preserve healthy existing trees, yielding even more tree skiing for the 2014-15 season.

A new and equally bold vision is unfolding as the resort’s signature Sun Valley Lodge is re-imagined for a new generation. While the iconic façade of the Sun Valley Lodge will be maintained, the interiors will be redesigned and rebuilt to offer more spacious rooms, many doubling in size, with fireplaces and modern comforts, including expansive bathrooms.

The redesign and expansion includes the addition of a 20,000 square foot destination spa with 15 treatment rooms, complete with steam and sauna, a world-class fitness center and yoga studio, and a selection of wellness treatments. Adjacent to the spa, guests will also enjoy a beautiful new outdoor swimming pool and pool café framed by views of Bald Mountain. The Sun Valley Lodge lobby, Gretchen’s restaurant, and Duchin, the signature lounge, will be expanded and remodeled.

Throughout the renovation and closure of the Lodge, the Sun Valley Inn, cottages, and condominiums, as well as restaurants, retail shops, entertainment venues, and ski mountains will be fully operational. The Lodge and Spa will celebrate a grand opening in June 2015.

Direct flights from Denver International to Sun Valley on United Airlines will begin this 2014-15 ski season. The flight, just under 2 hours, departs daily from Denver to Sun Valley at 11:15 a.m. and returns, Sun Valley to Denver, at 1:40 p.m. The direct flight is just one of several daily non-stop flights into Sun Valley. Other gateway cities serving Sun Valley include San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Los Angeles (LAX), and Salt Lake City (SLC). All Sun Valley Resort guests receive complimentary roundtrip airport transportation between the Hailey airport and the resort.

Brundage Mountain Resort.

Brundage Mountain Resort.

Brundage Mountain, McCall
In the off-season Brundage completed a major upgrade to its base lodge. Skiers and boarders will enjoy a more spacious and hassle-free lodge experience including new ticket windows and guest services facilities just steps from the parking lot. Visitors will be able to purchase passes and tickets without climbing a long staircase to the upper floors. The new ‘plaza’ level will provide easier access between the lodge and the base area and create a more welcoming entrance to the lodge.

The expansion doubles the size of the Rental Shop and retail areas, easing congestion during busy times. New decks added to the south and southeast sides of the lodge allow for outdoor table service from Smoky’s Bar & Grill in both the winter and summer seasons.

This latest phase adds more than 3,200 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including:

  • 1,200 square feet of table-served deck for Smoky’s Bar & Grill
  • 750 square feet of indoor space for the Rental, Tuning and Retail Shops.
  • 700 square feet of brand new plaza-level space for Tickets, Ski & Ride School Reservations and Guest Services
  • 550 square feet of additional deck space on the southeast side of the lodge.

Brundage trail crews have constructed a scenic, one-mile nature trail which will serve as a dedicated snowshoe trail in the winter. The trailhead is next to the main lodge where guests may rent equipment from a new fleet of snowshoes, including youth and women-specific models.

Tamarack Resort.

Tamarack Resort.

Tamarack Resort, Donnelly
Tamarack Resort will resume seven-day operations for the 2014-15 winter season and announced a slate of capital improvements. The resort has been operated by the Tamarack Municipal Association on a four days a week schedule during ski seasons, Thursday through Sunday, since 2010. To operate on an expanded, full-week basis, the resort anticipates adding about 40 additional employees and is expecting mid-December opening. Unlike many of the region’s ski areas, this level of certainty for opening day is enabled by the resort’s snowmaking capabilities.

Improvements are planned for the terrain park and include expanded acreage, new rails, boxes and table tops ranging in size from 10-30 feet. The resort has also removed underbrush to expand and improve skier terrain and invested in new snowcats for grooming. 

Grand Targhee Resort.

Grand Targhee Resort.

Grand Targhee Resort, Teton Valley
Grand Targhee Resort is the first ski resort in the United States to embrace and endorse fat bikes, aka snow biking, on its Nordic trail system. Bikers who purchase a Nordic Day Ticket or a Nordic Season Pass will have access to ride on the Grand Targhee Resort Nordic Trail System. Grand Targhee Resort is nestled on the west side of the majestic Teton Mountains and receives 500 inches of snow annually. Famous for spectacular snow and magnificent scenery, Grand Targhee offers skiers two mountains totaling 2600 acres. Four chairlifts on Fred’s Mountain gives access to 1500 acres and 2200 vertical feet. A high-speed quad on Peaked Mountain opens accesses open bowls, groomed runs and tree skiing with an additional 602 acres reserved for snowcat skiing. Tubing, snowshoeing, Nordic trails, sleigh ride dinners, and spa services make for a complete winter vacation. Lodging is available slopeside and in Driggs, Idaho.

Airbag at Little Ski Hill. Credit John Webster

Airbag at Little Ski Hill. Credit John Webster

Little Ski Hill, McCall
Located two miles north of McCall, Idaho on highway 55, this small but action-packed facility has an alpine hill served by a T-bar providing 405 vertical feet of terrain which is the only lit ski and snowboard hill in the area. The Little Bear Basin Nordic facility has 30 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails. Little Ski Hill will operate an airbag Friday-Sunday this year giving freestylers the opportunity to show their stuff. Nordic ski lessons are now offered through the ski area’s PSIA certified Nordic ski school and group lessons will continue on Saturdays. The Little Ski Hill is open Tues-Sunday 3:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m on weeknights and until 9:30 p.m on Fridays. Skiers may enjoy the slopes from 12:00 p.m – 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Bear Basin Nordic Center is open 7 days a week from dawn until dusk.

Bald Mountain Ski Area.

Bald Mountain Ski Area.

Bald Mountain, Pierce
This small, family-friendly ski area located in Pierce welcomes skiers this season with an updated lodge, including a new wood stove, and a new rope tow. As part of the Pierce Winter Festival the first weekend in February, Bald Mountain will host its second annual Vertical Challenge competition to see who can ride the most vertical in one day.

Backcountry yurt at Soldier Mountain.

Back country yurt at Soldier Mountain.

Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Fairfield
Soldier Mountain offers alpine skiing and full and half day cat ski trips.  Its new 12-passenger SnowCat-complete with a 47” big screen TV-is sure to keep skiers comfy during the ride. Soldier also has a back country yurt available for winter enthusiasts.  The yurt sleeps 12 and has a four burner gas stove, fully equipped kitchen, wood stove and BBQ grill on the large deck. Families and groups may also rent the Mountain or the Lodge for an incredible winter experience.  This not-for-profit, family-friendly mountain offers lessons, a rental and tuning shop, season pass packages and 4-day punch cards.

Veterans Day: Military History Runs Deep in Idaho

November 11th is Veterans Day, and in honor of the men and women who have served our country, we would like to dedicate this blog to sharing a bit of Idaho’s military history. Idaho is home to numerous war memorials, historic military sites, and current military operations. For example, the Mountain Home Air Force Base and the 366th Fighter Wing have a history stretching back more than 70 years. Gowen Field (Boise) is home to the Idaho Air National Guard, Army National Guard, and the reserve units of the Army, Navy, and Marines. While these bases continue to grow Idaho’s place in military history, our memorials and historical sites commemorate Idaho’s past.

Original Fort Boise.

Original Fort Boise.

Near the original location of Fort Boise, visitors can see a commem-orative marker. When the Oregon Trail opened in 1841, the post was a major stop for the wagon trains crossing the Snake River into Oregon. The fort was damaged by a flood in 1853, partially rebuilt, then abandoned in 1854 due to skirmishes with the Native Americans. A replica of Fort Boise now stands in the city of Parma and offers a historical museum and pioneer cabin amid the fort’s reconstructed concrete walls.

In 1863, the military chose a location for the new Fort Boise in what is present-day Boise and construction began soon afterward. With the protection of the military, the town grew quickly. Other names for the fort were the Boise Barracks and Camp Boise. After 49 years at the fort, the U.S. Army left the site in 1912. The Idaho National Guard occupied it until 1919, when the Public Health Service obtained it for a center for veterans of World War I and tuberculosis patients. The foothills above Ft. Boise were used for gunnery practice. Today, many of the original buildings and officers’ quarters still stand and house Veterans Administration and Medical Center offices. Visitors may drive through Fort Boise or walk along the narrow, tree lined streets.

Original Fort Hall.

Original Fort Hall.

The first Fort Hall was built in the early 1830s as a trading post and resting spot for fur traders and emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail. Destroyed by flood in 1863, a second Fort Hall was built, but occupied for barely a year. The third Fort Hall was established in 1870 by Captain James E. Putnam, 12th U.S. Infantry. The Army post was designed to protect stage and freight routes and the Bannock Indian Reservation and abandoned in 1883. None of the original buildings remains at either site. The 1870 site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The

Fort Hall Replica in Parma.

Fort Hall Replica in Parma.

Fort Hall Replica is located in Pocatello, a wonderful display of period lifestyle and replicating one of the Northwest’s earliest fur trading forts.

In 1878, Camp Coeur d’Alene, later renamed Fort Sherman, was established as an Army post along the banks of the Coeur d’Alene River and Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Fort Sherman Chapel

Fort Sherman Chapel

Built in 1880, the Fort Sherman Chapel is Coeur d’Alene’s oldest church, school, library and meeting hall and one of few remaining buildings of Fort Sherman. The fort was abandoned in 1900 and the buildings and property sold at public auction in 1905. Fortunately the buyers who purchased the land let the church remain and it has been used by many denominations over the years. The Chapel, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was donated to the Museum of North Idaho in 1984 to ensure its preservation. Fort Sherman once occupied the land where the North Idaho College sits today. Visitors may tour the North Idaho College Campus year round or visit the North Idaho Museum May through October.

A number of forts were also built by pioneers and missionaries for trading and protection. Take a look at this Pinterest account for more information on those and other military forts and camps around the state.

While many of the forts were established by the US Army, Idaho also plays an important role with the U.S. Navy. The Farragut Naval Training Station was located on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille in Bayview, Idaho. Ground was broken in March 1942, and by September the base had a population of 55,000, making it the largest city in Idaho. At the time, Farragut was the second-largest training center in the world (behind Naval Station Great Lakes). The last recruit graduated from Farragut in March 1945 and the facility was decommissioned in June 1946.

Commemorative art piece at Farragut State Park.

Commemorative art piece at Farragut State Park.

The grounds are now part of beautiful Farragut State Park. Guests may visit The Brig Museum, home to boot camp, naval and war memorabilia dedicated to the 293,381 naval recruits who received their basic training at Farragut. In the Memorial Plaza, the centerpiece artwork is a large bronze bust of a U.S. sailor positioned on a base that resembles a “whale” boat, which recruits were trained to row in unison to learn a valuable lesson in teamwork. Surrounding the sculpture and facing the flags are 29 sets of footprints at attention.

Lake Pend Oreille also plays an integral role in the nation’s military readiness. The Navy’s Acoustic Research Detachment is still in Bayview and takes advantage of the excellent conditions in the lake for submarine acoustic research, development, testing and evaluation.

Submarine research also took place in southeastern Idaho. Learning that the Germans had developed the concept of nuclear power, the U.S. Navy began its nuclear research with the goal of powering submarines. In December, 1951, work at the Naval Reactors Facility (NRF) near Arco produced one of the most significant events of 20th century: the first usable amounts of electricity were generated by nuclear power. Two years later, the culmination of the work at the facility slid down a ramp into the icy waters off Groton, Connecticut — the world’s first atomic-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus.

From the early 1950s to the mid-1990s, Idaho’s NRF supported the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered fleet by testing reactor designs, receiving spent nuclear fuel for processing and storage, and training nearly 40,000 Navy personnel to operate surface and submarine nuclear power plants.

USS Hawkbill at sea.

USS Hawkbill at sea.

When you travel through Arco, the odd sight of the conning tower of the fast-attack nuclear submarine USS Hawkbill (SSN-666), known as “The Devil Boat,” rises from the ground in a roadside park. Reportedly the only known “submarine in the desert,” the Hawkbill’s sail is most fittingly located in the city of Arco, where nuclear propulsion for submarines began. During the Cold War, much of southeastern Idaho was a hotbed of nuclear testing and advancements – but because their studies were classified, no one knew about it.

A Buddy Poppies, the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

Buddy Poppies, the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

There are many ways to celebrate and honor our veterans. Visit a military museum. Idaho has some good ones:  Idaho Museum of Military History, the Warhawk Air Museum, Teton Aviation Center Warbird Collection, and Legacy of Flight Museum. Visit a fort replica or memorial, attend a parade or veterans memorial service or buy a poppy. Most importantly, find the opportunity to say “thank you” to veterans and serving members of our armed forces.

Downtown Boise Restaurant Week

Dine Out Downtown Boise logoThe Downtown Boise Association’s annual Restaurant Week(end to Weekend) is upon us! Dine Out Downtown Boise, October 31 – November 9, is a the perfect time to try out new spots or old favorites and see what their chefs have to offer at a reduced price. Choose your favorite participating restaurant or somewhere new throughout the week to enjoy special prix fixe menus. Choose from a 2-course prix fixe lunch for $10, 2-course prix fixe dinner for $15 or a 3-course prix fixe dinner for $30. No passes, tickets or coupons are required. Reservations are recommended.

To help promote the many Idaho products used in preparing these delicious meals and to celebrate the diversity of products and the regions they come from, Idaho Tourism partnered with Sysco and the Downtown Boise Association to encourage local restaurateurs to incorporate at least one Idaho product into their menus. Many of them were happy to oblige! Please check out the individual menus at the Restaurant Week homepage.

We have listed below the Idaho products being served and where the items hail from. Learn more about where these goods are made, grown or processed, or plan a visit. Many have storefronts, tasting rooms or product available in grocery stores.

Sausage from Salmon Creek Farms (Twin Falls) featured at Alavita.

Purple Sage Farms (Middleton) featured at Red Feather and Alavita.

Wine from Split Rail Winery (Boise) featured at Bodovino.

Trout and sturgeon from Hagerman via SeaPac of Idaho and Fish Breeders of Idaho featured at Chandlers, Saint Lawrence Gridiron and Flatbread.

Wines from Coiled Wines (Boise) featured at Juniper.

Rollingstone Chevre (Parma) featured at Red Feather, Fork and Solid Bar & Grill.

Wines from Crossings Winery (Glenns Ferry) featured at Angell’s Bar & Grill Renato.

Nuts from City Peanut Shop (Boise) featured at Fork.

Dairy products from Cloverleaf Creamery (Buhl) featured at Alavita, Red Feather and Matador.

Beef and pork products from Snake River Farms (American Falls) featured at Bardenay, Brickyard, and Kindness.

Lave Lake Lamb (Hailey) featured at Chandlers.

Ruby trout from SeaPac of Idaho featured at Lucky Fins Seafood Grill.

M&M Heath Farms (Buhl) featured at Red Feather.

Happy Idaho-grown eating!

National Monuments Offer a Look Into Idaho’s Past

We are frequently asked, “What national parks are in Idaho?”

The answer is pretty straight forward: “Other than a thin slice of Yellowstone National Park, Idaho doesn’t have any national parks,” we say. That is the correct answer, but it is only part of the story. While Idaho doesn’t have national parks, we are fortunate to have national preserves, reserves, monuments, and historic trails, which, like national parks, are managed by the National Park Service (NPS). Consider visiting the following national monuments, historical parks and sites as you travel through Idaho.

Mesa Falls in eastern Idaho.

Mesa Falls in eastern Idaho.

Yellowstone National Park

This is the one that started it all—Yellowstone – the first national park in the United States. Idaho’s portion of Yellowstone National Park includes a very narrow strip of the park’s southwest edge located along the Idaho/Wyoming border. Visitors heading to the park from Idaho typically enter at West Yellowstone, MT or just north of Jackson Hole, WY. The splendor of Yellowstone doesn’t stop at the park’s borders.  In the shadow of the Teton Mountains, eastern Idaho is home to upper and lower Mesa Falls, blue ribbon trout streams, bike trails and wildlife viewing. With state parks, resorts and everything in between, visitors can experience the beauty of the Yellowstone region at a slower pace.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Lava rock at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Lava rock at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

While Idaho has just a sliver of Yellowstone National Park within its borders, the state’s landscape was most certainly affected by the volcanic activity of Yellowstone. At Craters of the Moon National Monument the lava field is made up of about 60 lava flows and 25 cones.

The Oregon Trail pioneers were hoping to find a route that was safer than the more popular Snake River Plain route to the south to avoid clashes with the native Northern Shoshone and Bannock tribes. Goodales Cuttoff, as it was called, led them to this weird and scenic lava landscape but it was not the easier path they were hoping for.  In contrast, this desolate landscape was just the place for NASA astronauts Alan Shepherd, Edgar Mitchell, Eugene Cernan, and Joe Engle to explore in 1969 while training to visit the moon.

When planning your visit to Craters, you may want to do some research on the types of lava a volcano produces. If you don’t, how will you tell Pahoehoe toes from Spittle Bombs, or know when you’re looking at Breadcrust lava?  Under the earth’s crust, caves that were once gas pockets can be explored with a permit.

Paved walking paths criss-cross the park, allowing visitors to explore the lava field’s interior. There is also an auto route available April-November. After the snow flies, paths are open for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Craters of the Moon National Monument hosts a number of events throughout the year, including guided hikes and cross-country ski tours, family activities and more.  Be sure to visit the Visitor Center, where you can see exhibits and pick up maps and interpretive information.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

Hagerman Horse fossil.

Hagerman Horse fossil.

Did you know that the horse evolved in North America? The Hagerman Horse, Equus Simplicidens, Idaho’s state fossil, was the first true horse. It was about the size of a modern Arabian horse. However, its bones most closely resembled those of the Grevy’s zebra. The Hagerman Horse Quarry is recognized as one of the most important sites in the world related to the fossil history of the horse.

The Hagerman Fossil Beds are home to over two hundred different species of fossil plants and animals. The list includes Sabertooth Cat, a Hyena-like dog, Peccary, Mastodon, Otter, Bear, Shrew, Camel, and Ground Sloth, as well as many other species. With over 3,000 new fossil fragments found each year, it is one of the most fossiliferous Pliocene-aged sites in the world.

Because of the fragile nature of the fossils, visitors aren’t allowed to explore the area where most of the fossils have been found. Begin your visit to the fossil beds with a stop at the interpretive center in downtown Hagerman. You can see a complete skeleton of the Hagerman Horse, watch an educational video, learn about the Oregon Trail and explore the Discovery Center. The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument also includes a portion of the Oregon Trail. Interpretive programs include Hagerman Fossil Beds NM and Paleontologist Junior Ranger programs, paleo porch programs, Junior Paleo Camp, and Oregon Trail living history programs.

If you enjoy birds, Hagerman’s mild weather and constant source of 58-degree spring-fed water makes the area a magnet for migrating ducks and geese who winter in the valley. Check out the Idaho Power Hagerman Valley Birding Checklist or participate in the Hagerman Bird Festival in February.

Nez Perce National Historical Park

Nez Perce Artifacts

Nez Perce Artifacts

The Nez Perce National Historical Park is a non-traditional national park because it tells a story about a people rather than a location. The Nimiipuu – which means ‘the people’ – were also called Nez Perce – meaning pierced nose – by French fur trappers.  The Historical Park includes 38 sites in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana, so if time allows, plan for a road trip rather than a single stop.

A great place to begin exploration of the Nez Perce Historical Park in Idaho is at the Spaulding visitor center, located 11 miles east of Lewiston on Highway 95. Here, visitors can view exhibits, pick up maps and information, and learn the stories behind the sites along your journey, including Coyote’s Fishnet, Whitebird, and Heart of the Monster.  Following the Nez Perce trail, visitors will learn about epic battles fought between white men and the Nez Perce, and come away with a rich sense of Idaho’s past.

The Idaho panhandle was part of the Nez Perce home range for over 10,000 years. The park itself preserves some of the locations and stories of Idaho prior to the white man’s arrival, and retains many of the traditional names known to the Nez Perce. While in the area, consider exploring Lewis & Clark’s route. The expedition depended on the kindness and assistance of the Nez Perce, and is a big piece of the area’s history.

Minidoka National Historic Site

Commemorative plaques now stand at the entrance to the Minidoka Monument.

Commemorative plaques now stand at the entrance to the Minidoka National Historic Site. Photo credit National Park Service

The Minidoka National Historic Site is a monument to a difficult time in United States history: the internment of US citizens and their families because of their Japanese ancestry. In February 1942, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that moved nearly 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans into 10 isolated relocation centers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. Looking at the site between Twin Falls and Jerome, Idaho, it is difficult to believe that nearly 10,000 Japanese American citizens and legal resident aliens of Japanese ancestry once lived on those 34,000 acres. The Minidoka War Relocation Center was in operation from 1942 to 1945 and housed citizens from the coastal states of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. In January 1945, internees were allowed to leave the camps and were given $25 dollars and a train ticket to return to their former homes.

The buildings from the camp were sold and moved, but today visitors will see a newly restored entry guard station, waiting room and rock garden. Visit the Relocation Center display at the Jerome County Museum in nearby Jerome and the restored barracks building at the Idaho Farm and Ranch Museum southeast of town. There is a small marker adjacent to the remains of the guard station, and a larger sign at the intersection of Highway 25 and Hunt Road, which gives some history of the camp. The Hagerman Fossil Beds visitor center also has some displays about Minidoka’s history.

Friends of Minidoka, a group that encourages preservation, education, and research of the WWII incarceration experience holds an annual pilgrimage and educational event to share and remember. Read about the 2014 pilgrimage in the Minidoka Pilgrimage’s Blog, and watch for the dates of the 2015 event on their website: http://minidoka.org.

City of Rocks National Reserve

Granite formations at City of Rocks.

Granite formations at City of Rocks.

Known as “The City” to its climbing devotees, the City of Rocks National Reserve is situated within Castle Rocks State Park near Almo, Idaho. The sculpted landscape of City of Rocks dates back 28 million years. Some of the granite spires are in the 2.5 billion year old Green Creek Complex, which contain some of the oldest rocks in the western United States. Emigrants of the California Trail described the rocks there in vivid detail as “a city of tall spires,” “steeple rocks,” and “the silent city.”

Summer is the peak season for visiting the City of Rocks, especially if you want to catch one of the lectures, tours, or educational programs put on by the Castle Rock State Park rangers. Park visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities, with rock climbing, biking, hiking, camping and bird watching among the favorites. Over 22 miles of hiking trails wind through the City of Rocks National Reserve, leading to arches, windows, and dramatic overlooks. Auto touring is another great way to enjoy City of Rocks. Begin the drive in Albion, following the 49-mile City of Rocks Back Country Byway, or refer to the City of Rocks auto tour guide. In Almo, be sure and stop at the City of Rocks/Castle Rocks State Park visitor center for maps, information, and to watch an 8-minute orientation video of City of Rocks geology, history, and things to do.

For bird watchers, focus on the pinyon-juniper-mahogany forest, aspen-riparian areas, sagebrush flats, and spruce-fir forest above 7,000 feet to see the most variety. The birding hot spots guide will help you get the most from your visit. Keep an eye out for Idaho’s state bird, the Mountain Bluebird, enjoying the preserve.

If you don’t make it to the City of Rocks before the snow falls, no worries. You can still enjoy it on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Ice climbing is also popular. Be aware, some roads may be impassable from November through April. The park has gravel roads, but they are easily traveled by passenger car in fair weather.

Spending time at these monuments gives visitors an appreciation of the natural, cultural and social forces that have shaped the state of Idaho – not to mention the fun that comes with exploring someplace new. Start planning your ‘monumental’ road trip at www.visitidaho.org.

How Do You Beat A Fall Motorcycle Ride Like This!

By Moto-Journalist Blogger Guest,  Liz Jansen

How do you beat a ride like this in Idaho? Amazing scenery that goes on and on, excellent roads and very little traffic.

Lake view from Shore Lodge

The Shore Lodge in McCall overlooks beautiful Payette Lake. Photo courtesy Shore Lodge

Leaving Boise on Highway 21, my route took me through the historic old town of Idaho City, population 485, once the largest mining town in the Pacific Northwest.

Even though Diane described the scenery I would ride through, I wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness at every corner. Mountains, canyons, river, twists, turns, elevation changes, I had to stop to catch my breath and get my bearings. It’s easy to get completely absorbed in the experience – and really important to stay focused on the road.

Massive rock walls line the road where it’s been cut through the mountain. These rocks were once living beings  – imagine the energy contained in these formations.

Astounded and humbled by the energy of the natural beauty that envelopes me as I ride through it.

Arriving in McCall

A former logging town, McCall, Idaho is now a picturesque resort town of about 3,o00 permanent residents, nestled on the south shore of Payette Lake.  An all-season tourist destination, it’s centered in the Payette National Forest and is renowned for alpine skiing, boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, golfing, rafting – and of course, motorcycling.

Read the entire article click here.

Safe travels – wherever your road leads.
Ride  miles  180