After a few good tips about snowshoeing and a nice introduction to snowshoeing for those who never practiced this great winter activity, it’s time to talk about which are the best places for snowshoeing in Idaho.
One small recommendation before starting: remember that many snowshoeing trails are the same used for nordic skiing and skiing in general. If that’s the case, keep in mind that skiers have right of right-of-way since snowshoers can move on the side of the trail more easily and safely. Also, make sure to not step on the ski tracks with your snowshoes: skiers work very hard to create them.
That said, let’s discover together which are the best places to go snowshoeing in Idaho and why.
Best snowshoeing walks in Idaho
Castle Rocks State Park
Just because it’s mostly known for its hard rock climbing routes, it doesn’t mean that Castle Rocks State Park doesn’t have anything else to offer, au contraire! In wintertime, it actually becomes a great place for snow-sports lovers. Indeed, it doesn’t just present some very beautiful snowshoeing trails: it's also a great playground for those who love cross-country skiing and ice climbing.
The landscape is absolutely stunning, with its dramatic backdrop more than 2.5 million years old and some incredible trails.
Beaver Creek Summit
If you are looking for a trail that was specifically created for snowshoers and backcountry nordic skiers, then Beaver Creek Summit is the place for you.
Located 25 miles north of Idaho City off Highway 21, this trail offers incredible opportunities and, at 6,500 feet it opens on a 360 degrees view of the Boise National Forest, including Pilots Peak, Wilson Butte, Sunset Peak, Rock Creek and Scott Mountain: a real spectacle for the eye!
This is not a very visited area, making it the perfect place to avoid big crowds and enjoy a bit of winter solitude. Being an intermediate to advanced level trail, it’s not suitable for beginners and it’s always best to make sure to have a couple of strong trail-breakers in the group.
Make sure to get your Park N’ Ski permit before visiting, since it’s required.
Harriman State Park, East Idaho
Located in Island Park, Harriman State Park has a 25 miles winter trail system, with trekker huts open on weekends along the way to warm up between one section and the other.
This is a great place to find trails for all kinds of snowshoers: all trails are open to this activity and are incredibly well marked. If you are looking for a trail for beginners, then we suggest the Ranch Loop, that allows a great first snowshoeing experience, exploring the shores of Silver Lake, all the way to Harriman Ranch.
Just a quick note: snowshoe rentals are not available within Harriman State Park, therefore make sure to rent your gear before getting there. You can find rentals in Island Park, West Yellowstone and Idaho Falls.
In the Pocatello area, Mink Creek allows a great variety of options for those who want to go snowshoeing and nordic skiing. It’s a very accessible area, which means that it is also very visited, with seven parking areas and trails for all levels.
Snowshoers don’t require a trail pass, since those trails are not groomed. However, they require a parking pass which is very important to get in advanced. Rentals are available at the East Fork Nordic Center at a reasonable price.
Galena Lodge is a truly great area for those who want to spend a great day snowshoeing. Located very near to Sun Valley Ski Resort, it offers snowshoeing experiences for all levels and for all tastes.
It will be a great adventure to explore the heart of Sawtooth National Forest, with more than 16 miles snowshoes-only trails that will allow you to truly enjoy the surroundings and the views of the Boulder Mountains.
We highly recommend it to snowshoers of all ages and levels, making it the perfect place for those who want to spend a day in the snow with their family or for groups of friends who have different levels but still wish to spend a weekend together. And when we talk about friends, we also mean dogs: indeed, our buddies are allowed on the trails too.
Since it’s a very beautiful and interesting area, if you are a big group of people it could be a fun idea to hire a guide to take you around for a couple of hours: you can find deals that will allow you to receive a trail pass, all the equipment and a guide for two hours at $35 per person.
Known as one of the most beautiful places where to go snowshoeing in Idaho, Banner Ridge is just 23 miles north of Idaho City off Highway 21 and it really has a lot to offer to snowshoers of all ages and levels. There’s a steep 1.3-mile climb from the trailhead to the ridge that allows access to loops, open bowls and big views.
The great thing about the trail system of Banner Ridge is the possibility to connect the various sections in different ways, created your own trail and “customizing” it according to your own wishes and needs. Most of them are beginner to intermediate, however there still are some options for expert snowshoers.
Views are stunning and fun is assured.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
In the beautiful area of Boise, Bogus Basin offers the possibility for a last-minute snowshoeing experience near the city. Besides, this is the perfect place for night snowshoeing.
Indeed, trailside solar-powered lamps illuminate the trail, making it easy to navigate it in the darkness and creating a really magical atmosphere. Snowshoeing at night is a great way to experience this activity from a completely different point of view.
The beauty of snowshoeing at night is assured by the games of light that happen between your headlamp and the snow, full of twinkling crystals. The silence of the night together with the silence of a snowy environment is something that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Don’t think about it as an insanely cold time: if it’s a quiet night with a clear sky, you won’t feel colder than during daytime, especially if you are wearing the right clothing for snowshoeing.
During your walk, pause to hear the sounds of nature at night and let the whole experience bewitch you.
Besides snowshoeing at night, Bogus Basin allows great experiences during daytime as well, with trails for just snowshoers and trails for both snowshoers and nordic skiers, crossing beautiful scenarios.
Think out of the...State
What about those who are willing to go outside Idaho to explore some more snowshoeing options? Here are some of the most beautiful trails to snowshoe in the United States.
Lake Tahoe, California
Beautiful in winter as much as any other season, Lake Tahoe is the place to be for snowshoers. This year-round playground is truly worth a visit if you are looking for beautiful places where to snowshoe in the US.
We highly recommend the Blackwood Canyon to Barker Pass Trail, with beautiful flora and fauna and some amazing views over Lake Tahoe from Barker Pass. The trail is 14 miles long, but it’s absolutely worth it. Pack properly, as you are going to work harder than you think. Make sure to have lots of water with you: great adventures await you.
Chimney Pond, Maine
Plan a snowshoeing trip to Chimney Pond: you won’t regret it. When it comes to this activity, the beauty of this place is well known all over the country. This is a trip that requires good prepping and planning: you will have to reserve a lean-to a few months in advance (we are talking about 6-7 months), so you can take a two-day trek through the stunning glacier bowl to the foot of Mount Katahdin.
It will be a truly unforgettable experience, during which you will be able to admire some jaw-dropping views and enjoy the remote wilderness of New England. Totally worth the planning, waiting and efforts.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
This is another year-round playground. The beauty of the Rocky Mountain National Park is well known all over the States and the world, and winter doesn’t make an exception. Actually, it offers one of the best adventures when it comes to snowshoeing.
Head out to Deer Mountain and accept the challenge of the strenuous trail: 3 miles for an elevation gain of more than 1,000 feet. The struggled will be 100% worth it: a once-in-a-life-time view of the Continental Divide will be waiting for you at the end.