Thursday, February 13, 2014

Skiing looks iffy this weekend; avalanche danger is high; Go soak in an Idaho hot springs

Pine Flats Hot Springs 
Kirkham Hot Springs 
Skinny Dipper Hot Springs 
Bonneville Hot Springs 
Gold Fork is senior friendly ... Wendy's mom, Dorothy, enjoyed a soak at age 92! 
Hi all,

With the Pineapple Express moving through SW Idaho and Central Idaho this week, and a big douse of more rain and snow coming this weekend, it's challenging to come up with a promising outdoor activity.

It's great to receive all of this new snow in high elevations, but as the temperatures warm up, we've had rain-on-snow situations and slides, as the avalanche danger goes sky-high. It's pretty scary to hear about all of the slides that have been occurring, and the deaths and injuries that have resulted. Here's a report about the tragedy in Eastern Oregon in the southern portion of the Wallowa Mountains near Cornucopia.

I also heard that a skier had been caught in an avalanche on Bald Mountain in Sun Valley today.

It's tempting to ski this weekend, but the forecast calls for rain at Bogus Basin, and the quality of snow in the backcountry is going to depend on the snow-level. Officials with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center said the snow level could be 7,500-8,000 feet with the storm on Friday and Saturday. Damn! That would be bad ...

The forecast is slightly more promising in McCall and Stanley by Sunday. The forecast for Boise calls for mostly rain all weekend, but less continuous on Saturday and Sunday.

I zipped up to Stargaze Yurt today (Thursday) to take my puppy Huck for an outing, and I hoped to do a little fresh powder skiing from the top of the mountain, above Beaver Creek Summit. But alas, there was a thick crust on top of bottomless snow. Plus, there were high winds and wind slabs in the high ridges.

So at times like this, I say, "punt" and head for a hot springs or maybe watch for a window between the rain and go for a road bike ride in the Boise Valley. Head for the gym. Go see a movie. Watch the Olympics.

Some of my favorite hot springs close to home include:

  • Kirkham Hot Springs - About six miles east of Lowman on Idaho 21. Suits recommended in daylight hours since it's located next to the highway and frequented by families. Free. 
  • Bonneville Hot Springs - Located about 20 miles east of Lowman. Watch for the Forest Service sign for the campground and hot springs. You'll have to hike about a mile to the spring in the winter. Free.
  • Skinny Dipper - I heard the BLM had closed it, but I saw people in the parking area today. Trailhead located about 4 miles east of Banks on the Banks to Lowman Road. Free.
  • Pine Flats - Located west of Lowman on the Banks to Lowman Road. Forest Service site. Snowed in during the winter, so it's a longer hike to the hot springs pools ... maybe a mile walk. Bring your snow boots. Free.
  • The Springs in Idaho City - This is the newly refurbished commercial facility. Call ahead for reservations. 208-392-9500. Rates are $16 for adults, $10 for children and infants. 
  • Gold Fork Hot Springs - The signed turnoff is south of Donnelly. Great commercial hot springs with natural hot water and many different pools for soaking. $8 for adults; $6 for children. 
  • There are more primitive hot springs in the Cascade, Idaho, area. See the Idaho Hot Springs web site for more information.   
Have fun! Relax! Turn into a prune!

Steve talks about his outdoor tips with Ken Bass and Misty Taylor on The River 94.9 FM Friday mornings at approximately 7:30 a.m. This week, the segment will air at 8:30 a.m. Go to to find information about Steve's outdoor guidebooks and other resources.  

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