She’s calling you. Maybe you’ve heard her beckon toward towering rocks, pristine lands, powerful waters, and ancient caves that have been transformed by snow and ice. Maybe you’ve felt the pull to push your limits on backcountry slopes, towering ice climbs, and challenging hikes. Are you ready to heed her urging to forge unforgettable experiences? Whether you’re a bold nature lover, an active family, a serious thrill seeker, or just looking to reconnect with your sense of wonder, she is ready for you.

The only question is: How will you answer her call this winter?

1. Snowshoe Through Skyscraping Pillars

See the silent “city” and amazing rock formations of City of Rocks and Castle Rocks State Park. During the winter, this outstanding geological area offers the perfect place to find quiet and some of the most spectacular scenery in the West. Stay overnight at the Lodge at Castle Rock Ranch, a cabin at the state park, or even a yurt! The century-old lodge has WiFi, wide-screen TVs, multiple bedrooms, a full kitchen, and sleeps up to eight people.

2. Discover Ancient Hot Springs

Southern Idaho’s hot springs are pure bliss, and each one is unique. Miracle Hot Springs is equally perfect for a kid-friendly getaway or a romantic weekend. Miracle features four outdoor pools and a bevy of private soaking pools for those who want a little more privacy.  You can even spend the night in one of their geothermally heated glamping domes.

Test your balance skills on the floating log at 1,000 Springs Resort before retiring to your cabin for the night, or visit Banbury Hot Springs, which has been soothing sore muscles since 1920. Durfee Hot Springs, located at the northern edge of Almo, features a developed outdoor pool—but be sure to call ahead (day and hours change seasonally).

If you want a challenge before you chill out, Skillern Hot Springs is quite an experience. You will need to hike for two hours along the Smoky Mountains in the Sawtooth National Forest. But the payoff is worth it: A sandy bottom, waterfall-fed hot springs nestled against a rock wall.

3. Experience Endless Snowmobiling

A tip from the locals: The Fairfield area has plenty of fresh snow, so grab your sled and go! Stop at the Fairfield Ranger District in Fairfield to pick up a hard-copy map of the groomed trails – there are 220 miles to explore, plus all kinds of off-trail areas to discover and ride.

The Trinity Mountains and the area around Fairfield offer miles and miles of snowmobiling possibilities. If you’re looking for things to do in Twin Falls, the Diamondfield Jack area has more than 200 miles of groomed and marked trails of Sawtooth National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land. Mount Harrison, located near Pomerelle Ski Resort and accessed by Howell Canyon, features incredible panoramic views of the valley below and reliably deep powder. The Gooding County Snow Park is off the beaten path and provides access to 150 square miles of riding on public lands. Of course, you can always go off-trail — there are plenty of places to play along all those groomed trails!


4. Ski Backcountry Perfection

Experience the pure powder of the backcountry at Soldier Mountain — in luxury. Soldier Mountain’s 12-person snowcat comes equipped with a flat-screen TV and big windows to enjoy the spectacular views as you journey to an action-packed skiing experience. At 10,095 feet, it provides acres of beautiful views and pristine powder. Combine that with a stay in the Smokey Dome yurt and you have a perfect Idaho backcountry weekend. Pro tip: Book now — these spots go fast.

5. Black Magic Canyon

Southern Idaho’s volcanic past has left us with amazing canyons, and one of the most stunning can only be accessed in the off season. Black Magic Canyon, north of Shoshone, was carved from twisting black basalt that gives the cave its name. It’s usually full of irrigation water in the summer, so winter is prime exploration time. Don’t forget to check the Big Wood Canal Company’s website to check on the canyon’s water levels; water can be released into the canyon as early as February.

Southern Idaho Winter Guide 2018

Your Guide to Southern Idaho’s Winter Wonders

Ditch the crowded ski resorts, the packed trails, and your same-old, same-old winter activities. Winter adventures await in Southern Idaho! Answer a few quick questions and begin downloading your guide to this season’s 10 best bets in Southern Idaho.

6. Nordic Ski to Another World

Every winter, the black, alien landscape of Craters of the Moon is transformed into a snowy white winter playground. Where else can you ski across a dormant volcano? Try the 1.5-mile Snowshoe Loop Trail or the 7-mile Loop Drive, both groomed for skiers and suitable for both kids and adults. Both skiing and camping are free during the winter at Craters of the Moon.

Also check out the cross-country ski trails adjacent to Magic Mountain Ski Resort. The trails wind up the mountain from the ski area and take you to the top of the South Hills, providing gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside. Make it a true getaway with a stay in the Thompson Creek Hut in the South Hills. The yurt sleeps six and is a three-mile ski from the Magic Mountain area.

7. Climb or Marvel At Frozen Giants

Every spring, tourists flock to Southern Idaho to see its waterfalls at their thundering peak. Make the trip in winter to experience a different side of these natural wonders. Like a giant, glittering tower, a frozen waterfall is truly a sight to behold. Ice climbers, grab your axes for an unforgettable ascent.

Visit Centennial Waterfront Park for beautiful views of several cascades. You can also cruise the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway to take in multiple waterfalls originating in underground rivers and spilling over massive boulders millions of years old.

8. Witness Majestic Bald Eagles

Winter is an amazing time to go birding or to watch birds of prey. Visit the Hagerman/Thousand Springs area for the best opportunities during the winter, when waterfowl concentrate in the area. Check out Banbury Springs, Tuana Gulch, and the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area for the best vantage points. You’re likely to see Canada geese, mallards, common goldeneyes, ring-necked ducks, herons, egrets, and more.

To catch a glimpse of a majestic bald eagle — or 50! — wait until the weather gets closer to zero and head toward the Westpoint Store & Café and entrance to Box Canyon Reserve near Wendell.

9. Hit the Slopes

The snow gods have been especially generous this year to Pomerelle Mountain Resort! Pomerelle regularly racks up tons of powder thanks to its location in the Sawtooth National Forest and its especially high elevation: 8,000 feet at the base with a vertical drop of 1,000 feet. The area is graced with snowstorms from California and Utah that bring deep snow — around 500 inches annually — to 24 slopes. In other words: Awesome skiing.

Got kiddos? The Ski School specializes in teaching toddlers and family members of all abilities and is a PSIA member school. Kids 6 and under ski free with a paying parent.

10. Take the Family Tubing

Skiing isn’t the only game in town! Magic Mountain Resort near Twin Falls has a tubing hill pass that’s perfect for an afternoon out — or weekend getaway. Magic Mountain gets more than 200 inches of snow every year, which makes it a fun and affordable option for snow lovers. Tubing hill passes are only $15 for two hours, or $12 each for groups of more than 20 (call for reservations). Winter hours for the tubing hill are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their ski hill and lodge are also open for business, so plan for a whole day of fun in the snow.


Top Off Your Visit with Hearty Food

Decided to snowshoe City of Rocks or take a soak at Durfee Hot Springs? Indulge in a perfect steak at the Almo Inn and Outpost Steakhouse or keep it low-key with homemade specials at Tracey’s. If you’re snowmobiling near Fairfield, stop into Soldier Creek Brewing Company for a truly impressive beer selection and some live music. Skiing at Pomerelle isn’t complete without eating riverside at Morey’s Steakhouse, or taking in the stunning views at Upper Crust Bistro. Near Black Magic Canyon, grab some of the best comfort food at the Shoshone Snack Bar or Manhattan Cafe in Shoshone. If you’re cruising the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, fuel up with a hearty breakfast at the Snake River Grill in Hagerman.


Have a Cold One at the New Hot Spot

One stop you can’t miss is the new Koto Brewing Company, located in the historic Koto Building at 156 Main Ave. N. in Twin Falls. Dig into gourmet pub food and homemade favorites like fish, steak, soups, salads, and smoked ribs. Pair your meal with a one of their impressive microbrews or a lovely glass of wine. Before you go, check out Koto’s Facebook page for their lineup of live music.