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10 Idaho trips to cure winter cabin fever

December 31, 2014 - 10:18 AM

Your family can watch TV any time. If you have some time off for the holidays, and potentially some guests from out of the area, it's time to get out and show them Idaho.

Cold temperatures and winter weather are no excuses. There are fun local trips, scenic drives to nearby places, and longer outings to get some real Idaho experiences.

Consider these. Better yet, don't just consider, do these.


This is one of the most scenic overlooks for the Snake River about 15 miles south of Kuna and an easy trip where you typically don't have to worry about encountering snow.

There's an easy, quarter-mile trail from the marked parking lot that leads to a spectacular view and includes interpretive signs that describe the areas plants, wildlife, geology and birds.

Bring your camera and warm clothes. It tends to be windy there. You can also drive into the canyon and check out Swan Falls Dam.

Where: South of Kuna on Swan Falls Dam Road.

More information:



If you're not an angler, you may not be familiar with this spot in south Nampa, but there's more here than trout.

The springs originate at the Nampa Fish Hatchery and meander through 55 acres of ponds, canals and wetlands.

There are paths through the area with docks and many access points for anglers.

But there's more here than fishing. Wilson Springs is on the Idaho Birding Trail, and during winter, 15 species of waterfowl can be seen, as well as shore birds, raptors and song birds.

The ponds have clear water, and you can spot trout and other fish cruising. They're open for angling year-round, so don't hesitate to grab a fishing rod and try your luck.

Where: Just south of the Fish and Game regional office at 3101 S. Powerline Road in Nampa.

More information: http://bit.ly/1zgRCxb.


The Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is a winter home for thousands of waterfowl and a haven for all types of wildlife ranging from rodents to big game.

The refuge features a visitors centre, all-weather trail network and a birding blind where people can spot all kinds of birds.

The lake is wintering ground for bald eagles, which can be spotted roosting in the tall cottonwood trees near the shoreline.

Bring your binoculars and spotting scope to get the best view because bald eagle nesting areas are protected.

Where: From Interstate 84, take Exit 33A (westbound) or Exit 33 (eastbound). Go west on Idaho 55/Karcher Road for 3.5 miles to Lake Avenue.

Turn left and go about 2.5 miles to the intersection with Roosevelt Avenue and turn right. At Indiana Avenue at the top of the hill, turn left into the refuge and follow the road to the Visitor Center

More information: fws.gov/deerflat.


This trip is all pavement and is usually clear of snow. You get some great scenery as you leave the Treasure Valley and top out on Horseshoe Bend Hill before descending into the Payette River drainage. You follow the scenic river corridor along Idaho 55 up to Banks and then continue toward Garden Valley.

You can turn around at Garden Valley, or go a mile to Crouch.

Restaurants in Garden Valley and Crouch make a good lunch spot, and there's a tubing hill, sleigh rides and other winter activities in Garden Valley (snow conditions permitting). For details about tubing, go to idahoxsports.com; and idahosleighrides.com.

Where: Garden Valley is about 50 miles from Boise. Take Idaho 55 north to Banks and turn right on the Banks to Lowman Road.

More information: gvchamber.org.


There's no question Idaho City has character. Its historic buildings and mining past make it an interesting place. It's also a scenic drive getting there as you pass from the Treasure Valley past Lucky Peak and continue up Mores Creek, where grass and sagebrush hills become a ponderosa forest.

Idaho City is a hub for winter recreation, especially snowmobiling, and cross country skiers and snowshoers who use the Park N' Ski areas on Idaho 21.

Stop for lunch and see the eclectic downtown area. If you want to impress the relatives from out of town, take them to the hot springs resort . For details, go to thespringsid.com.

Where: It's about 45 miles from downtown Boise. To get there, take Idaho 21.

More information: idahocitychamber.org


You aren't likely to hit snow on this scenic drive except for Horseshoe Bend Hill.

It's another scenic trip along the Payette River, including Black Canyon Reservoir, but going downstream along the Payette from Horseshoe Bend.

The easy drive through the agricultural land includes ranches, orchards and vineyards. Throw in a side trip to Emmett's vintage downtown and stop in for lunch.

The whole loop is about 75 miles from Northwest Boise and Eagle.

Where: Take Idaho 55 north to Horseshoe Bend, Idaho 52 west to Emmett and Idaho 16 to Emmett and back and Idaho 44 back to Eagle and Boise.

More information: emmettidaho.com


Ketchum/Sun Valley is one of Idaho's most famous destinations for travellers, and you can drive a few hours to see what others come from all over the country and the world to see.

It has everything a world-class resort offers, including luxury lodging, restaurants and live music, as well as outdoor activities ranging from skiing to ice skating to sleigh rides to inner tubing to helicopter skiing.

Where: It's about 150 miles from Boise.

More information:



This has long been a favourite place for Treasure Valley folks to take relatives for a day trip or a weekend.

It offers year-round recreation, but it's reliable snow, abundance of winter sports and lots of lodging and restaurants makes it a family-friendly destination.

Once you're there, you can take a short trip to Ponderosa State Park, spend a day on the slopes at Brundage Mountain Resort, take a snowmobile into the backcountry, or go tubing or cross country skiing.

If you want a slightly shorter trip, Cascade has much of the same features with Tamarack Resort located on the west side of Lake Cascade.

Where it's at: It's about 100 miles north of the Treasure Valley on Idaho 55. Cascade is about 75 miles.

More information:



Stanley isn't an easy place to reach during winter. Idaho 21 is sometimes blocked because of avalanche hazards, and even when open, it's a long, twisty drive on two-lane roads.

But all that is forgotten when you see those views of the snowy Sawtooth Mountains. It's one of Idaho's iconic vistas that's been shown everywhere from art galleries to the New York Times.

Stanley is a favourite destination for snowmobilers, and nearby Galena Lodge (galenalodge.com) has some of the finest cross country ski trails in the state.

Where: It's about 130 miles from the Boise.

More information: stanleycc.org.


If your family comes from warmer climates and doesn't find snow charming, this little oasis in Idaho's banana belt is a good destination.

The Thousand Springs area is a truly unique and scenic destination, and while not exactly summer warm, it's often warmer than Idaho's mountains and typically snow free.

There's cool opportunities for scenic drives with short stops at various places to see waterfalls, spring-fed creeks, clear pools, fossil beds and more. You can even see alligators.

Where: It's about 100 miles southeast of Boise.

More information: parksandrecreation.idaho.gov and search for Thousand Springs.


The original story can be found at The Idaho Statesman: www.idahostatesman.com

News from © The Associated Press, 2014
The Associated Press

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