In the winter, she asks you to get still. Put the phone away, she whispers, and forget about deadlines and to-do lists. Step into the cold and feel the sun on your face and the chill on your skin. Listen to the sounds of snow falling and deer making their way through the trees. It’s snowshoeing season, and Southern Idaho is beckoning. Read on to discover the best places to wander through snowscapes.
Craters of the Moon
The snow-covered landscape of Craters of the Moon is a snowshoeing haven during the winter months … and it’s one of the few places in America where you can snowshoe across a dormant volcano. Follow the orange snow poles to explore the 1.5-mile Snowshoe Loop Trail through the monument or venture off of the winter trails and climb a cinder cone. Snowshoe Walks are scheduled in January and February and no prior snowshoe experience is required. The Craters of the Moon Natural History Association has snowshoes available for loan at the visitor center. Donations are accepted for the upkeep of the equipment.
City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park
With 22 miles of trails in the City of Rocks and another 12 miles in Castle Rocks, snowshoers and cross-country skiers can find deep quiet and even see some of the area’s wildlife. You won’t find groomed trails, but you will find solitude and fantastic geological features. This year’s snowpack has been excellent for snowshoers. Check out the Creekside Towers Trail at City of Rocks, and don’t forget to take your picture at the reserve’s iconic Window Arch.
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.
Magic Mountain/Rock Creek Canyon
This area offers plenty of options for snowshoers, from easy trails to hilly loops. If you’re up for an intense experience, try the Wahlstrom Hollow Loop, a 4.2-mile ungroomed stretch of trail along Rock Creek Road. In search of a more leisurely option? Check out the 10-mile stretch of trails directly adjacent to Magic Mountain Ski Resort’s alpine ski area. The High Desert Nordic Association maintains great snowshoeing areas there such as the Penstemon Trail, the Thompson Creek Trail, the Rimview Trail, Rock Creek Loop, Elk Basin Trail, and the trail to Grandview Peak. The HDNA trails are also open to cross-country skiers and fat-tire bikes, so please follow etiquette when snowshoeing.
Thompson Creek Hut
For a true backcountry experience, take the Thompson Creek Trail near Magic Mountain to the Thompson Creek Hut. The hut is maintained by the High Desert Nordic Association and sleeps up to seven people. Inside, you’ll find a wood stove for warmth, plenty of firewood, and a propane stove for cooking. The hut is stocked with pots and pans and soft pads for each wooden bunk; you’ll need to pack in the rest of your supplies and bedding. The price is only $20 per person per night and $10 for HDNA members. To rent, please call Valdon Hancock at 208-420-9042 or visit HDNA’s website.