Now that hunting season is pretty much over and winter is upon us, it's time to crank up Stueby's weekly outdoor tips for the winter season.
And I have fresh news to share! The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has added a sixth yurt to the hut system in the Idaho City Park n' Ski Area -- it's called the Stargaze Yurt.
The 20-foot diameter yurt is accessed from a new Park n' Ski parking area at Beaver Creek Summit, just a mile or so farther than the Banner Ridge parking lot, located about 25 miles east of Idaho City toward Lowman.
Leo Hennessy, IDPR non-motorized trail coordinator, picked a perfect mountain knob at 6,600 feet elevation for the new yurt. "It's a cool spot with excellent slopes for telemark skiing on the north, east and west slopes," Hennessy says. "You can see 360-degree views of all of the surrounding mountains. It's a beautiful location."
The best part of all: IDPR isn't taking reservations for the Stargaze Yurt until Jan. 4 because the early dates in December were reserved for 60+ volunteers who donated approximately 2,500 hours of labor to build the yurt, set up trail signs and cut six cords of firewood, among other things.
So ... for people who like to stay at yurts that means you should stay tuned on the IDPR web site for yurt reservations and be ready to reserve the Stargaze Yurt as soon as IDPR starts taking reservations on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 4. The other five yurts in the Idaho City area already are booked 95 percent of the time for this winter, so Stargaze may be your best chance to get a yurt reserved for you and your friends.
A couple of friends of mine were part of the volunteer force that worked on the Stargaze Yurt. They've already been up there enjoying the snow and the view.
"We highly recommend it for first-time yurters," says Barb Cochran. "It's not too far or steep, and it's brand spanking new!"
All of the Idaho City Park n' Ski Trails have been rolled, and they're in the process of being groomed as we speak. More snow is expected Friday. Snow depths are in the 3-feet range or more, depending on elevation. "We've got a good base, and we're expecting 6-10 inches of more snow in the next week," Hennessy says.
I highly recommend the Park n' Ski system for snowshoeing, traditional cross-country skiing (kick and glide) and backcountry skiing (telemarking or alpine touring/randonee). The access points are located directly adjacent to the ski/snowshoe trails, so the fun begins as soon as you're booted up and ready to go. There are 50 miles of trails to explore in the whole Idaho City ski/snowshoe trail system, so there's no excuses!
Be sure to purchase a $25 Park n' Ski Pass for your vehicle, which is required for parking at the Park n' Ski lots. If you don't expect to get out much, a three-day $7.50 parking pass is available as well. Most of the outdoor shops in Boise carry the Park n' Ski passes. Remember, buying a parking pass is a great investment in the future of the Idaho City Park n' Ski System. These dollars are what pays for the trail-grooming up there.
BTW: There is a snow line for information on grooming and snow conditions: 208-514-2423.