Thursday, March 23, 2023

Eagle Peak at Lookout Pass doubles the terrain and the fun!

A skier points to the new Eagle Peak area at Lookout Pass,
which added 500 skiable acres to the charming ski area.
(Courtesy Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area.)  


Hi all, 

Wendy and I did a road trip to N. Idaho recently, visiting the new Eagle Peak mountain, a big  500-acre addition to Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area. 

We hit Lookout on a day when it had 10-14" of new snow that morning! And we were fortunate to have three excellent tour guides - friends from Coeur d'Alene Dave and Carol Lindsay and Randy Bell. 

Courtesy Lookout Pass (400" of snow avg/year)

I wrote about the whole three-day trip, in which we also skied Silver Mountain on a powder day, skied Lookout on a sunny day, and stayed at the base of Silver Mountain in the newer high-rise condo units there next to the gondola. I also recommend some places to eat and drink beer. 

See my trip report online at Ski Idaho

Put the idea of taking a swing through N. Idaho to ski Lookout, Silver and Schweitzer on your list for this spring or next winter, it's definitely worth it! Lookout stays open through April 16 this year. 
- SS  

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Go see the snow geese at Ft. Boise WMA - 50,000-60,000 are there now!

Snow geese at Boise WMA (courtesy Glenn Oakley/IDFG)

Hi all, 

It's that time of year when snow geese gather by the tens of thousands at Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area near Parma or Roswell Marsh near Roswell and Adrian, Ore. 

It's just a 45-minute drive west of Boise to see the birds. And they may not be there too much longer! 

Sunny weather with highs in the mid-50s are forecast Friday-Sunday in valley locations, perfect conditions for doing some wildlife watching. 

Snow geese feeding in a farmer's field near Ft. Boise WMA

Snow geese congregate at Ft. Boise WMA each spring between early February and mid- to late March. I went out to see them this morning, and they were feeding in farm fields in large numbers about 9 a.m.

I also saw big groups flying overhead in a huge V-formation, sounding off loudly.

Ft. Boise WMA viewing platform
According to IDFG, snow geese leave the Ft. Boise WMA ponds at daybreak, feed in the farm fields and then return to the ponds from 10:30 a.m. to noon. That's the best time to see them. There's a viewing platform at the WMA where you can see the birds easily in ponds nearby. Be sure to bring your binoculars! And be respectful of private property and keep your distance from the birds if you stop to photograph them next a farm field. 

Big migration: The snow geese are stopping at Ft. Boise WMA on their way north toward Canada, Northwest Territories, Alaska or even Siberia. They winter in Central Valley in California. 

Courtesy IDFG

This is cool activity that'd be great for kids, families and anyone who enjoys nature. 

Getting there: Take I-84 to Caldwell. Take the U.S. 20-26 exit and follow signs to Parma. Drive through Parma and the turnoff to Ft. Boise WMA is 2+ miles ahead on the left on Old Ft. Boise Road. Take that road a couple miles and you'll come to the viewing platform by some ponds. 

On the way home, maybe stop for lunch in Parma or stop by a Canyon County winery

- SS   

Snow geese feeding in a farmer's field (photo by SS)

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Take a scenic drive to see wildlife on Banks to Lowman Road

Be sure to watch the elk from a respectful distance. 

Hi all, 

It's early March, but this weekend is going to feel more like winter than spring. 

With weekend temps barely reaching 40 in Boise, and a chance of light snow, it might be a nice change of pace to take a leisurely scenic winter drive.  

March is a great time of year to visit the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, a.k.a. the Banks to Lowman Highway, watch for deer and elk on the mountainsides (or on the road), maybe go for a short walk, take a nice soothing hot springs soak and then cap it off with a hearty meal in Crouch at the Dirty Shame Saloon.

All of these things are doable in a day trip Boise. The Banks to Lowman road covers 33 miles tip to tail. And most likely, you'll be going out and back.  

How to get there: Take Idaho 55 north from Boise to Banks. Turn right. Now you're on the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway. 

Courtesy Boise National Forest

Large groups of elk and deer are typically visible along the two-lane scenic road. Be sure to give the animals a wide berth. Don't spook them or cause them to burn extra energy. It's a vulnerable time of year for them. Deer and elk are drawn to the big, open south-facing slopes on the north side of the canyon because they are snow-free. In the coming weeks, tiny shoots of green grass will begin to sprout.

Be sure to bring your binoculars. You also may see bald eagles, golden eagles and red-tailed hawks flying around. Pack a lunch, snacks and water for the day trip. 

Courtesy Boise National Forest 

Several choices are available for hot springs to visit as part of your trip: 
  • Hot Springs Campground - Just east of the town of Garden Valley, the hot pools are down by the river's edge. Not sure if the campground is plowed. Call the Boise National Forest for more information. 
  • Pine Flats Hot Springs is a beautiful spot along the South Fork of the Payette River that serves as a Forest Service campground in the summertime. The hot springs pools are small, and there's a hot shower you can stand underneath too.  
  • Kirkham Hot Springs is probably the most popular roadside hot springs in Idaho, given its proximity to Boise. There are some nice hot pools next to the river. Bring a swimsuit. Be sure to Pack out what you pack in and leave the area nicer than you found it. 
  • Bonneville Hot Springs is about 20 miles toward Stanley on Idaho 21, east of Lowman. It has some nice larger hot pools and an old wooden shake with a bathtub inside. Because of snow, you'll need to hike in less than a mile to the springs from the highway.   
A couple of other places where you can see wildlife in a scenic drive would be on the Salmon River Road, going upstream from Riggins, or going downstream from North Fork near the town of Salmon. Both areas are promising for seeing bighorn sheep, elk, deer and maybe even mountain goats. 

Have fun! 
- SS

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Spring season pass sales offer best pricing at Bogus, Tamarack and Brundage

Photo courtesy Bogus Basin

Hi all, 

It's that time of year, once again, when many Idaho ski areas offer spring season pass sales that provide the best pricing for a 2023-24 season pass, plus instant access to the ski mountains in the remaining weeks/months of the 2022-23 ski season. 

Bogus Basin launches their season pass sales tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 23. Tamarack Resort's season pass sales are already under way, with the best pricing open now until March 1st. And Brundage Mountain's season pass sales start on March 1st. 

Be sure to check on the season pass pricing for the places you want to ski/ride, and make your purchase now! The best pricing occurs right when the sales open, and then the rates go up steadily this spring and next fall to full price. Don't wait! Get the best price!  

Remember that many season passes also provide discounts at other ski mountains or provide discounts for an Indy Pass. So when you buy a season pass, you're getting more than just the value of a one-mountain pass.  

2023-24 Pricing: 

Courtesy Bogus Basin

At Bogus Basin, a "True Bogus" pass for adults costs $499 for full access to winter and summer recreation activities. 

  • A winter-only adult pass costs $429
  • A spring winter pass costs $119    
  • Twilight season pass (after 3 p.m.) - $149
  • Night season pass (after 6 p.m.) - $99
  • Military - $359
  • Family - $1,609
  • Young Adult (18-24) - $379
  • Teen (13-17) - $299
  • Junior (7-12) - $179

I believe all of these prices are valid for skiers/riders who have an existing season pass. The price is a smidge higher if you're buying a pass for the first time. 

Considering that it costs $79 for a full day adult pass at Bogus, you can "pay off" these season passes with merely a couple of days of skiing/riding.

More information at Bogus Basin

Tim Wolfgram, front, and Mike Erlebach carve turns at Tamarack. Photo by SS 

The $499 Boundless season passes at Tamarack Resort provide four-season access to winter skiing/riding on the mountain, Nordic trails, summer lift-served mountain biking and hiking trails, scenic chairlift rides in the summer, and complimentary 2-hour lake kayak and SUP rentals at the waterfront on Lake Cascade, ski and bike tuning discounts and more. 

Other Boundless passes available with best pricing right now until March 1: 

  • Family - $1,199
  • Young adult (ages 18-26) - $199
  • Teen (12-17) - $299
  • Youth - $179
  • Senior - $349
  • Military - $299
  • Midweek - $349
All of those prices go up after March 1st! Again, compared with the cost of a daily lift ticket at Tam ($55 mid-week, $75 weekend), you can ski off the pass in a matter of days. 

Remember that you can get a free day of skiing at Tamarack with a season pass from another Idaho ski area. 

More information on Tamarack season passes.

Courtesy Brundage Mountain Resort 

Again, Brundage Mountain's season pass sale starts March 1, and the best pricing is available through March 20. Rates go up $100 per pass after March 21, and by May 1st, the Brundage adult pass goes from $559 (March 1) to $899. On Nov. 1, the price goes up to $999. You get the idea! 

The season pass pricing shown here provides access to winter and summer activities, including lift-served mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, bike park access and bike park shuttle in the summer. 

More pricing: 

  • Military - $329
  • Young adult (age 18-25) - $329
  • Teen (13-17) - $269
  • Youth (7-12) - $149
  • Senior - $299
  • Midweek - $399
  • Family - $1,399
For price comparison, an adult Brundage lift ticket costs $86. So, you can ski off the pass in a matter of days. And the ski season typically lasts from early December to mid-April! 

More information on Brundage season passes. 

Speaking of skiing/riding, the weather this week has been pretty wacky with this Arctic storm front that descended into Idaho from Canada. Some of the weather forecasts have been way off the mark, and mine were too on the Idaho Daily Snow. Even so, all of Idaho's ski areas have been getting refreshed with new snow this week. Tamarack really got the goods on Wednesday night/Thursday with a foot of new snow. Bogus Basin got 7" out of that storm, and Brundage had 4" as of Thursday afternoon. We'll take it! 

See my latest post on
- SS   

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Great conditions for snow biking right now at Bogus Basin, ID City and McCall!

Hi all, 

It's been a better-than-average winter for fat biking in the snow. At least for me.  

During cold snaps with snow, the lower Boise foothills trails have been excellent to ride. The North Valley Trail in McCall and the snow bike/xc trails at Jug Mountain Ranch are always good.  

If you catch them right, like maybe the day after they've been groomed, the Idaho City Park and Ski Area trails can be excellent for snow biking. Firm conditions are best on groomed trails or boot-tracked trails. Typically, I think they groom mid-week to prepare trails for the weekend xc skiers.

Today, I zipped up to Bogus Basin to ride their Nordic trails. It's been freezing hard at night, so I figured if I got there late morning, the groomed trails would be firm. True! Skate skiers had been skiing the loop in the morning before me and packing down the middle of the trail. Plus, the trails had been freshly groomed overnight. 

It was best for me to ride right in the middle of the trail - the most well-traveled part of the trail - where I left barely a tire print in the snow. I could zoom right along on the flats, cruise downhill, and grind up the hills. The Nordic Connector Loop over to Red Tail and back to the Nordic Highway was in perfect shape for snow biking. And then you can head out the Nordic Highway several miles over to the Shafer Butte picnic junction and continue uphill to the picnic area, if you want to cover more distance. 

It was a beautiful day today to be in the mountains, soak up some Vit D, and get a workout. 

It's important for fat bikers to pay attention to their impact on trails to retain good relations with xc skiers and snowmobilers. If your tires are creating a big wedge or rut in the snow, then you create a divot in the trail, and that upsets the xc skiers in particular. They are expecting to glide on a smooth surface. If you leave light to no tracks, then the conditions are perfect for snow biking.

That's the situation we've got right now. Think about heading up to Bogus Basin to go fat biking on the Nordic trails, or head for a few other destinations that allow fat biking at the destinations above. 

At Bogus, I could use the trails for no charge since I'm a season pass holder with both Nordic and alpine privileges. I also have my own fat bike with 4" wide tires, disk brakes, and a nice range of gears for climbing and riding downhill. 

If you don't have your own bike, at Bogus it costs $45 to rent a fat bike for 2 hours, $65 for the day. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. midweek, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. So you could easily head up there after work if you have a daytime job. More information on fat biking at Bogus, go here.   

Shafer Butte picnic area junction.  
Trail map courtesy Bogus Basin Nordic Center

Be aware that some of the Nordic trails at Bogus are closed to fat biking. Be sure to check with the Nordic staff at the lodge to ensure you know which trails to ride. 

For more ideas on fat biking in the snow in the Boise area, check out the Fat Bike Boise Facebook page. People post there frequently about the snow/riding conditions on Boise-area trails.  

Looking ahead, weather looks stellar - a bluebird weekend with warmish afternoons through Sunday, Feb. 19. And then forecasts are calling for colder temps and more snow in the mountains next week! See my latest snow forecast on We've got plenty of winter yet to come! 
- SS  

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Go soak up some sunshine and Vitamin D this weekend!

Male ferruginous hawk by Todd Katzner

Hi all, 

The weather forecast looks pretty sunny and warmish for a mid-February weekend in Southwest Idaho. Afternoon high temperatures will be the high 40s in the Boise Valley and Snake River areas, and 30-35 degrees in the mountains. 

My recommendation for my Outdoor Tip of the Week is to go soak up some of that sunshine while playing outside.

1. Skiing/riding in the sunshine at Bogus Basin, Tamarack, Brundage, Soldier Mountain or Sun Valley should be fantastic this weekend. All of the ski areas have excellent snow coverage. 

There are a few events going on too such as "Super Diva Day" at Brundage on Sunday, and Tamarack has demo days going on for riders and skiers on Saturday and Sunday. Tamarack also has free s'mores apres ski around the fire in the Village on weekends. 

Sunsets on the Greenbelt can be quite spectacular. 

2. Go for a bike ride or leisurely walk on the Boise River Greenbelt. Note that several sections of the Greenbelt are closed temporarly. I ran into three closures on a bike ride this afternoon. One is near Veterans Park Pond, where some type of construction is going on. Another is by Ann Morrison Park to the 9th Street bridge on the south side of the river, where they are replacing lights. A short section by the Riverside Hotel was closed today due to some construction work. 

Morley Nelson 
3. Head down to the Morley Nelson - Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, south of Kuna. Nesting birds of prey should be returning to the canyon right about now and the males will be trying to impress the females with courtship flight. You could take a ride or walk on the Snake River trail between Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park while you're in the 'hood. Don't forget the binoculars and your bird book. 

4. Take a scenic wildlife-watching drive up to Banks on Idaho 55, turn right on the Banks to Lowman Road, and watch for herds of mule deer or elk in the winter range areas on the mountains above. Bring your swimsuit if you might want to stop at Pine Flats, Kirkham or Bonneville Hot Springs. 

5. Find your own adventure maybe at Big Creek Summit between Cascade and Warm Lake or head up Idaho 21 to More's Creek Summit and Beaver Creek Summit. Good launch point to make your own trails. 

Once you've gotten your outdoor fix, you can head home and watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. Should be one heck of a game! 

Have fun! 
- SS

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Bogus Basin guided snowshoe nature tours and seven other worthy snowshoe destinations

My son Drew and I go snowshoeing frequently. 
This photo was taken at Bear Basin in McCall. 

Hi all,

My regular readers know that I like to enjoy the winter in many different ways, using different modes of transportation, including alpine skiing, xc skiing, backcountry skiing, snow biking and snowshoeing. 

This week, for my outdoor tip of the week, I'd like to recommend a number of worthy locations to go snowshoeing. I'll lead off with guided snowshoe nature tours being offered by Bogus Basin on Saturdays and Sundays this winter. They've got tours going out on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. and then again at 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon on both days. 

Ray Vizgirdas talks about nature with snowshoers at Bogus. 
(photo courtesy Bogus Basin) 

The nature tours are led by Ray Vizgirdas, a wildlife biologist, who has worked for state and federal natural resources agencies for 30+ years. The theme this weekend is all about winter animal tracks. 

The tours last 1.5 hours. Inquire with to check on availability. Private and group tours are available. Maximum 12 people per tour. They may have openings for next weekend, Feb. 11-12. The cost is $40 for full package of snowshoe rentals, trail pass and guided trip, $20 for just the tour if you have your own snowshoes and a Nordic trail pass.   

Snowshoe/ski trail going from Beaver Creek Trailhead
to the Stargaze Yurt. 

The snowshoe tours are "a great intro into the world of winter recreation while you learn a little about the flora & fauna that call Bogus Basin home," the Bogus Basin web site says. "Perfect for those new to the area or anyone interested in learning a little more about Bogus Basin and the mountain ecosystem."       

Seems like the snowshoe tours would be a good way to become acquainted with Bogus Basin's snowshoe trails and learn about nature. Great combo! Trips like these should work for just about anyone ... if you know how to walk, you can snowshoe. 

Check out these other snowshoeing destinations: 

  • Freddy's Stack Rock Trail over to Stack Rock from Bogus Basin Road. See Ridge to Rivers interactive map. There's a large pullout on the right side of the Bogus Basin Road at about mile 10 where you can park and access the trail. 
  • Charcoal Gulch - Idaho City. The trailhead is adjacent to the Idaho City Airport. Self-guided adventure in ungroomed trail. 
  • More's Creek Summit. Climb to Sunset Lookout or Pilot Peak on snowmobile-packed or skier packed snow roads. Sunset is 5 miles one-way. Pilot Peak is 3 miles and change. 
  • Idaho City Park and Ski Areas. Keep going past More's Creek Summit on Idaho 21 to the Gold Fork, Whoop Em Up, Banner Ridge or Beaver Creek parking areas. I would recommend Gold Fork, Whoop Em Up, Banner Ridge and Beaver Creek as great destinations for snowshoeing. Go to the IDPR Park and Ski web site for maps and more information.
  • Crown Point Trail in Cascade. 3 miles out, 6 miles out and back. Trailhead located near Lake Cascade just outside of the town of Cascade.  

    Here's Drew snowshoeing in Ponderosa Park 
    on a powder day. 

  • Ponderosa State Park - McCall. Multiple snowshoe trails are available at Ponderosa ... one of the most scenic parks in Idaho. 
  • Bear Basin - McCall. Trailhead is on the north side of ID 55 on the way to the Little Ski Hill. There are multiple snowshoe trails to explore. 
There you have it! 
- SS