Best Places to Snowshoe in Idaho
Posted by Crescent Moon on Nov 19th 2020
From the Northern Rocky Mountains to the edge of the Great Basin’s sagebrush sea, from the brink of Hells Canyon to the western ramparts of the Yellowstone Plateau, Idaho tempts outdoor lovers all year-round with magnificent scenery and truly vast public lands, including the biggest roadless complexes in the Lower 48 States.
That scenery and that wilderness are yours to enjoy with all the more elbow room in the depths of winter when a pair of foam snowshoes from Crescent Moon gives you primo access to Idaho’s whitened wilds. Here are some of the best places to go to get your snowshoe fix in the Gem State!
Snowshoe Ponderosa State Park
This beautiful park is just a stone’s throw from the town of McCall, occupying a peninsula that jabs out into the waters of Payette Lake. Ponderosa State Park—which, yes, includes no shortage of those gorgeous, “yellow-belly” ponderosa pines, the iconic trees of the American West—is well set up for winter recreation: Its designated snowshoe trails include the Meadow Marsh Loop, the Fir Cutoff, and the Ridgeline Trail, which ascends to the peninsula’s central heights for topnotch views.
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Idaho’s most otherworldly at Craters of the Moon, where geologically recent volcanism on the Snake River Plain is likely triggered by the same “hot spot” now feeding Yellowstone’s geothermal fires to the northeast—forged a landscape of raw basaltic lava fields and monolithic cinder cones. This black-rock country looks all the more stark and dreamlike under the snowpack. Snowshoers can get a taste of this moonscape on the established milelong Snowshoe Loop Trail on the North Crater Flow or tramp off-trail in the wide-open lava lands, relishing the long sightlines available from the tops of buttes and cones in crisp, still winter air.
City of Rocks National Reserve Snowshoe Trails
More superlative geology awaits you and your trusty Crescent Moons in the City of Rocks National Reserve, set in the Albion Mountains within shouting distance of the Utah line in south-central Idaho. The wild and wonderful granite pillars, pinnacles, castellated knobs, and arches—erosion’s sculpting of the ancient Almo Pluton and the even more ancient Green Creek Complex—make the City of Rocks a rock-climbing magnet. Still, this stone lands wintertime solitude is altogether seductive. An excellent choice for first-time snowshoeing here is the Creekside Towers Trail, which shows off emblematic formations such as Bath Rock, Anteater, Incisor, and the Creekside Towers themselves.
Snowshoe Trails At Stargaze Point
Situated in the Boise Mountains—a southerly expression of the great Idaho Batholith, that complex of granitic intrusions forming much of Central Idaho’s mountain-scape—Stargaze Point serves as a topnotch snowshoe destination not far north of Idaho City (and within day-tripping distance of Boise itself). A short but invigorating climb from the Beaver Creek Summit Park N’ Ski Area along Highway 21 brings you to the namesake 6,682-foot vantage, which offers panoramic views of the Boise Mountains. This includes such noble summits as Pilot Peak (not far to the southwest), Wolf Mountain, and Steele Mountain—and farther-off ranges such as the Salmon River Mountains. And heads up: The Stargaze Backcountry Yurt nearby is rentable for overnight stays.
Fourth of July Pass Snowshoeing
A mere 11 miles east of Coeur d’Alene along I-90, Fourth of July Pass includes a fantastic Nordic system maintained by the Panhandle Nordic Club, the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department, and the U.S. Forest Service. That system consists of some 16 miles of designated snowshoe trails here in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, plus the Panhandle Warming Hut’s cozy shelter.
Take in Idaho’s World-class Snowshoeing
There’s much more to see of Idaho on snowshoes: Many of the state’s topnotch ski resorts, such as Sun Valley, Grand Targhee, and Silver Mountain, offer snowshoeing routes, and backcountry adventurers have many lifetimes’ worth of snowed-in mountain wildernesses to explore if they’re up for access challenges. Take advantage of the easy-wearing, firm-gripping Eva and Luna — our rocker-style foam snowshoes here at Crescent Moon—and fall in love with the winter oasis in Idaho!