One of the charms of living in Idaho is that we often get to enjoy secluded areas that provide a quiet, uncrowded experience in the mountains – we call it finding our “Private Idaho.”
You can find that rare, one-of-a-kind experience in Southern Idaho via a vast network of groomed trails and ungroomed snowmobile play areas. Idaho has more than 7,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails statewide, the most of any western state. A registration sticker program funds the trail-grooming program, as well as nice parking areas, rest rooms and warming huts.
There are five main trailheads to snowmobile adventures in the Southern Idaho region. Here’s how to find them:
The Gooding County Snow Park lies about 20 miles north of the farm town of Gooding. This is an off-the-beaten-track destination that provides great access to riding in the Bennett Hills. It provides access to 150 square miles of riding on public lands. Go north of Gooding on Idaho Highway 46 to the snowmobile parking area at the Gooding-Camas county line. For more information, contact the Gooding Chamber of Commerce.
Howell Canyon, south of Burley – Follow signs to Pomerelle Ski Area, south of Declo on Idaho Highway 77, and you’ll find a great trailhead with a rest room and warming hut for snowmobiling to Mount Harrison and other points in the vicinity. There’s a 150-mile network of groomed snowmobile trails to enjoy, plus plenty of off-trail play areas to enjoy. Contact the Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce for more information.
The quiet farm town of Fairfield has three different snowmobile trailheads, so on weekends, the snowmobile trails come alive with visitors from the Southern Idaho region. 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. Couch Summit and Wells Summit parking areas are located on Soldier Mountain Road, north of Fairfield. Those trailheads are the most popular. The Chimney Creek trailhead is located 10 miles west of Fairfield at the end of Vodemere Road.
The Camas County Chamber of Commerce has an excellent winter recreation map for finding the trailheads and local points of interest.
Near the itty-bitty town of Pine, there’s a popular snowmobile trailhead called the Malcomsen Parking Area, next to the turnoff on U.S. 20 for Pine and Featherville. This trailhead provides access to more than 380 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that take you from 4,000 feet up to more than 9,000 feet in the Trinity Mountains. You might see some elk along the way.
For more detailed information on snowmobiling in Southern Idaho, see the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation snowmobile brochure. This pamphlet also provides information about avalanche safety and a reminder list of what to bring when you head out on a full day ride.
South of Hansen, there’s a big network of snowmobile trails in the South Hills. During the week, these trails won’t be crowded, but on weekends, they are popular. The trailhead can be reached near the summit of Rock Creek Road, just past Magic Mountain Ski Area – it’s called the Diamondfield Jack Snowmobiling Area. There are 200 miles of groomed trails in the area, and they lead to all kinds of off-trail riding areas in the mountains. There are rest rooms and warming hut at the trailhead.
For overnight lodging information in Southern Idaho, look for the best deals on the Southern Idaho Tourism web site or at the chamber sites listed above.
Have a great ride!