Do you like Budweiser or are you a craft beer fan? The purchase of large ski resorts is very similar to the consolidation of the beer industry. For the masses, Budweiser is just fine, but what if you enjoy character, authenticity or community? Are there any ski areas left that you can park close, bring a sack lunch and get to know your Liftie? The answer is YES but it takes a little bit more research to find these places. Don’t worry, we’ll do all the work so that you can learn from us and enjoy your time off. This season, we’ve set our road trip sights on Southeast Idaho!
Idaho – Craft Beer of Skiing
Each winter, we take a road trip to experience places that are the craft beer of skiing. Ski areas that have a symbiotic relationship with their towns instead of their shareholders. Locales filled with more charm than lift lines. Ever since we found the “Gem” state on our way to the Powder Highway, we’ve become fascinated by its mountains. Okay, we’re obsessed! Last year’s trip to Central Idaho blew our minds! Big terrain, big snows and most of all, no crowds. It was heaven.
The problem… the state of Idaho is HUGE! In fact, you can’t ski or ride all of its eighteen resorts in one trip. After last season’s adventure, we made a promise to ourselves we’d come back and check out another part of this amazing state.
Niagara of the West
The trip starts off by heading to the town of Twin Falls, known as the gateway to Snake River Canyon and home to what they call the Niagara of the West, Shoshone Falls. After our long journey from South Lake Tahoe, we’ll soak our weary bodies in the Miracle Hot Springs and venture up to Pomerelle Ski Resort. With an annual snowfall of 500” and a down home friendly vibe, we’re excited to check out this hidden gem.
Camping under the Stars
From there, we’re off to Castle Rocks State Park for a night stay under the canopy of stars. We’ll enjoy all the fun of camping but with a soft bed and protection from the elements. A one-of-a kind experience for sure!
Gateway to the Pacific Northwest
Refreshed from our time in the wilderness, we head to what the locals call “Gate City” – Pocatello. Located in the foothills of the Rockies and home to Idaho State University, we’ll ride Pebble Creek Resort and explore the town. This cozy resort’s saying is “If you can ski Pebble Creek, you can ski anywhere.” From what our friends have told us, this is no joke! We’re excited to see what this place has in store for us.
Real Night Skiing at Kelly Canyon
Then… it’s off to Idaho Falls! Nestled among the Rocky Mountains in the Snake River Plain beneath the shadow of the Grand Tetons, we’re going to experience its western hospitality firsthand. Just thirty minutes from downtown, we’ll go and get a few turns up at Kelly Canyon. Night skiing isn’t just a gimmick here but the real deal. Nearly all of the ski runs are lit – not just the beginner trails. It has been over fifteen years since we’ve skied at night and can’t wait to try it again.
Fire & Ice Festival
How are you supposed to end a trip? Drive home and collapse into your bed? Heck no! Instead, we’re heading to Lava Hot Springs. Bubbling out of natural underground springs, these hot springs are laden with minerals but skip the typical sulfur found in most other springs across North America. Instead of smelling like rotten eggs, you’ll smell as fresh as the mountain Idaho air. If that wasn’t enough, we’ll check out the annual Fire & Ice Winterfest. Some of the highlights include:
The Polar Float Parade
Folks jump into the bone chilling Portneuf River on float tubes, dressed in the craziest costumes they can find! Expect to see costumes like the Easter Bunny to Santa Claus and the infamous band KISS floating down the Portneuf. Will we jump in with the rest? You never know.
Fire Performers & Torch Light Parade
On Saturday night it’s all about the local daredevils skiing down the “L” mountains with lit torches. Then, it’s off to see fire performers from Lava Flow Fire entertain through dance, acrobatics and music as they manipulate flaming objects. Whoa!
Running of the Bulls
Finishing off the weekend of craziness is a foot race like none other we’ve heard of. Starting at Silver Grille restaurant, wearing only a pair of swim trunks and flip flops, they’ll race down Main Street all the way to the hot springs. This doesn’t sound too bad until you remember that it’s in the middle of winter!