Winter In Idaho: 22 Incredible Bucket List Adventures

The fun doesn’t stop when the cold weather comes knocking – it is actually just beginning! Winter in Idaho brings so many cool and unique activities.

From winter camping in Idaho, ice sculpture contents, to relaxing hot springs, at the end of this blog post, you’ll be planning your next Idaho trip before your first one even begins!

There’s more than just skiing and snowboarding, and we’re here to prove that to you! Keep scrolling for the best activities during winter in Idaho, to inspire your next snowy adventure to the Gem State.

22 Adventurous Things To Do In Idaho During Winter

1. Stay Overnight at Burgdorf Hot Springs

Burgdorf Hot Springs is one of the coolest things to do in Idaho year-round, but there’s something special about visiting in the winter season!

Because the access road (Warren Wagon Road (USFS Road #21) is not plowed or maintained in the winter, the hot springs resort is only accessible via snowmobile when there is snow on the ground.

You’ll need to rent a snowmobile for a few days and stay overnight in one of Burgdorf’s historic cabins. The cabins are heated by wood-fired stoves for a cozy experience, and guests get 24-hour access to the pools. It’s quite magical to soak under the stars!

New in 2022: Under new management, Burgdorf is allowing only cabin rental guests to visit the pools. Dates vary per year and bookings are limited! Keep checking their Facebook page to hear the latest updates, and news about day-use visitation openings in the future!

Snowmobile Rentals That Collaborate With Burgdorf Hot Springs:

2. Drive The Central Idaho Hot Springs Loop

A hugely popular activity to do during winter in Idaho is to explore the many beautiful natural hot springs in the state.

Some of the most popular pools are conveniently located in a road trip loop route, beginning and ending in Boise, Idaho.

This route starts north on Highway 55, cuts over east on the Banks-Lowman Highway, and returns to Boise on Highway 21. You can even extend your trip all the way to Stanley and return to Boise on Highway 75.

The most popular and easy-to-reach pools in the winter include Kirkham Hot Springs, Mountain Village Hot Springs, Pine Flats Hot Springs, Sunbeam Hot Springs, and Boat Box Hot Springs.

Note: Because Idaho hot springs are delicate, it’s essential to follow proper hot springs etiquette when visiting! Doing so will keep these natural locations free of litter, and available to enjoy for generations to come!

3. Stay Overnight At Crystal Peak Lookout

We can’t think of anymore more magical than staying overnight in a fire lookout, with a 360-degree view of the stars!

Crystal Peak Lookout, located in Fernwood, Idaho is owned by unique home builder, Kristie Wolfe, who has curated a magical winter experience for lookout guests.

Winter guests can expect to be riven to the lookout in a vintage SnowCat, with hot chocolate and blankets for the ride. Once at the lookout, you have full privacy perched in the sky, with a wood-fired sauna and lots of snow trails just steps away.

4. Celebrate The McCall Winter Carnival

There are endless reasons to visit McCall in the winter, but the McCall Winter Festival is one of the coolest ways to experience winter in Idaho!

Our favorite part of the festival is the Ice Sculpture contest. The town delivers snow to your site, and judges and spectators get to vote on their favorite sculptures!

See them all over town (from the top of Brundage Mountain to downtown McCall) with an online ice sculpture map. You can easily spend an entire day just seeing the amazing works of art around town!

The dates for the 2023 Winter Festival are January 27th – February 5th.

New in McCall: 2023 will be the same as usual but in 2024 the festival will be later in February and bring back the famous Winter Festival Mardi Gras Parade!

More Idaho Winter Festivals:

  • Coeur d’Alene Holiday Lights Show – Couer d’Alene
  • Idaho Potato Drop (New Year’s Eve) – Boise
  • Wild West Winterfest – Island Park
  • Vintage Snowmobile Racing – Priest Lake
  • Winter Wonderland Festival – Sun Valley
  • Sandpoint Winter Carnival – Sandpoint

5. Go Backcountry Yurt Camping

If you are looking for a unique experience during winter in Idaho, consider booking an overnight stay in one of the 6 Idaho backcountry yurts!

These yurts and lovingly maintained by the Idaho Department of Recreation to create a special place for guests to enjoy the winter season.

Fully stocked with kitchen gear, firewood, an outhouse, and furniture, these yurts are the perfect Idaho winter activity! Getting to the yurts requires hiking on a groomed trail – you can choose to snowshoe or nordic ski.

To bring your items up, consider bringing items on this backpacking gear list or loading your gear on a sled.

6. Relax At The Springs in Idaho City

After a long day out on the trails (check out the Idaho city groomed trails nearby on highway 21!) relax at The Springs Mountain Resort in Idaho City.

Pamper yourself with their spa packages or come for the day to enjoy their large communal pools. For a little more privacy, you can also rent their private tubs, with food and drink delivery poolside!

Come year-round for pool access, sunbathing, steam rooms, and soaking in those mountain views.

Guests are provided with fresh towels, personal lockers, and shampoo & soap to rinse off after their time in the pools.

This is a great option for people who want to fully relax among the snow-dusted trees – just bring yourself and your suit!

7. Explore The Many Adventurous Idaho Ski Resorts

Did you know that there are 18 unique ski resorts in Idaho? No matter where you enjoy winter in Idaho, there’s liekly a ski destination not too far away!

Here is a list:

  • Sun Valley Resort
  • Bald Mountain Ski Area
  • Brundage Mountain ResortCottonwood Butte Ski Area
  • Lookout Pass Ski Area
  • Lost trail Ski Area
  • Schweitzer Mountain Resort
  • Silver Mountain Resort
  • Snowhaven Ski & Tubing Area
  • Bogus Basin
  • Magic Mountains
  • Grand Targhee
  • Kelly Canyon
  • Tamarack
  • Pebble Creek
  • Pomerelle
  • Soldier Mountain
  • Rotarun Ski Area

8. Go Cross Country Skiing (Nordic Skiing)

Idaho is no stranger to snow – there are 17 Park N’ Ski locations across the state!

Here, you can expect easy-to-reach and plowed parking areas. There are miles of groomed trails, with the average site providing between 5 and 10 miles of snow trails.

Note: Make sure to buy an Idaho Park N’ Ski pass for parking in these recreation lots. You can buy them online here.

The most popular groomed snow trails can be found at Banner Ridge, Ponderosa Pine State Park, and Farragut State Park.

Priest Lake, Castle Rocks, City of Rocks National Reserve, and Lake Cascade areas also have places for cross-country ski trails.

9. Take A Scenic Drive

Nothing is more peaceful than a bright, sunny day during winter in Idaho!

There are incredible scenic routes all over the state to enjoy some time together in the car.

Here are some favorite Idaho scenic drives that you can easily do in one day:

  • Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway
  • Thousand Springs Scenic Byway
  • Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway
  • Payette River Scenic Byway

10. Enjoy Winter Activities in Boise, Idaho

Winter in Boise makes the city come alive! From high tea downtown to neighborhoods lit up with Christmas lights, there are activities for the entire family to enjoy.

Our suggestion? Spend a weekend in Boise, Idaho by staying downtown at The Grove Hotel, seeing a holiday concert, and trying out the many delicious restaurants downtown!

Read More: 23 Incredible Things To Do In Boise, Idaho

11. Go Ice Fishing

Don’t save your fishing gear just for the summer – you can go fishing year-round on Idaho’s lakes!

Depending on which lake you choose to visit, make sure to read up on the catch requirements and permits needed to go ice fishing.

Bear Lake in southeast Idaho is a popular destination for ice fishing, but we think Bead Lake juuustt over the North Idaho border into Washington is a great option as well. Other great ice-fishing lakes include Lake Cascade, Fernan Lake, and Twin Lakes.

Don’t forget to dress very warmly, and pack a thermos full of your favorite hot drink!

13. Go Tubing

Not interested in going skiing or snowboarding, but still want to have some winter fun on the mountain?

Tubing is a great option, and it’s perfect for the whole family! Silver Mountain Resort provides some great runs, as well as Bogus Basin.

A little closer to town (Boise), you can check out Camel’s Back Park, which is a popular sledding hill in the winter season.

13. Go Snowshoeing

Things To Do In Idaho During Winter - Snowshoeing

Want to try a snow sport but don’t know where to start? Snowshoeing is one of the more beginner-friendly winter sports to try!

Luckily, Idaho gets some incredible snow in the winter, meaning a ton of different ski resorts offer snowshoe trails to explore.

Bogus Basin has some trails dedicated to snowshoeing only and offers rentals through the Frontier Point Nordic Lodge.

One of our favorite experiences has been booking a guided snowshoe tour up at Schweitzer Mountain – they know so much history and incredible facts about the area!

14. Stay in a Cozy Cabin

Doc Roys Legacy Cabin - Leavenworth, Washington

Nothing is better than having fun in the snow all day, and returning to a roaring fire at a cozy cabin!

There are tons of areas where cabin rentals are abundant. Our favorites are the Idaho City area, Couer d’Alene, Sandpoint, Sun Valley, and Lolo Pass.

15. Take A Sleigh Ride

Is there anything that shouts winter more than a sleigh ride?

Located an hour away from Boise in Garden Valley are Idaho Sleigh Rides, a full experience with a horse-drawn carriage and a warm meal at the end.

Similarly in North Idaho, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch offers sleigh rides, with hot cocoa or hot toddies to warm you up along the way.

16. Rent a Snowmobile

If you love riding ATVs in the summer, you’ve got to try snowmobiling in winter! There are tons of popular snowmobile trails to take around Idaho, but Brundage Mountain has some of the best ones in the state.

You can also rent snowmobiles in Stanley

17. Go Fat Tire Biking

Don’t leave biking just for the summer! This relatively new activity has taken Idaho by storm, and it’s one of the most popular winter activities to do in Idaho!

FYI: Fat tire bikes are bikes that have four-inch wide (or more!) tires, almost double the size of regular bikes. This provides more stability over snowy terrain, but they are also used for riding across sand too!

You can find fat tire booking trails around Stanley, McCall, Sun Valley, and Schweitzer Mountain resort. You can also find an abundance of trails (aka hundreds of miles!) in southeastern Idaho’s Teton Valley.

18. Go Cat Skiing

If you are an avid skier and want a more challenging adventure, consider going SnowCat skiing!

Good to know: Cat Skiing is when you take a Sno-Cat (those huge, beefy snow machines) into backcountry terrain that 99% of visitors don’t have access to. From here you can ski down in deep, deep powder and take on a backcountry challenge all your own. This adventure is not for the faint of heart, and is for experienced skiers only!

19. Go Hiking

Washington Winter Hiking Trails - Riverside State Park, Spokane, Washington -

Yep, you can still very much go hiking during winter in Idaho!

Some of the most popular and accessible trails are located in Boise, Coeur d’Alene, and Twin Falls.

Tubbs Hill is a popular trail with great views of the Coeur d’Alene Resort and the lake. Around Boise, you can explore the foothills, and Twin Falls provides a more extended season of hiking around the Snake River Canyon!

20. Enjoy the Christmas Lights During the Holidays

The glowing lights around town make the days a little brighter during the holiday season!

Book tickets for the Winter Garden aGlow show at the Idaho Botanical Gardens. Adult tickets are $18, youth tickets are $14, and kids under 4 are free!

Up north in the panhandle, the Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show brings tons of Christmas cheer to November and December. There are several dates to attend, including the lighting ceremony at Thanksgiving, Santa’s Reindeer Express, Carolers, and S’more by the Shore.

Other holiday activities in Idaho include:

21. Watch an Idaho Steelheads Hockey Game

Cheer on your favorite players all season long (games go until April!) during an Idaho Steelheads Hockey Game!

There are games happening on most Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays so you can take your pick of which times work best for you.

On Wednesday nights, there are $2 well beers, so grab your tickets and bring your friends for a fun night out!

22. Visit An Idaho Museum

When the weather is bad, stay inside and go learn about some Idaho history! There are several incredible Idaho museums across the entire state.

It’s one of our favorite Idaho winter activities to do because both Berty and I love learning about the history of the places we visit!

  • Boise Art Museum: Rotating exhibits, First Thursday specials
  • Sun Valley Museum of Art: Local artist exhibits and the natural history of the area
  • Idaho State Museum: Newly remodeled, a glimpse of the past
  • Old Idaho Penitentiary: Self-guided tour, west’s most infamous criminals
  • The Basque Museum: history of the diaspora community in Boise

What are some of your favorite things about winter in Idaho? Did we miss any iconic Idaho winter destinations? Let us know in the comments below!


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