Thursday, January 27, 2022

McCall Winter Carnival kicks off Friday, Jan. 28! Ice sculptures, skiing, xc skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, live music, food you name it!

Return to the Sea ice sculpture at the 634 cafe on main street in McCall.

Hi all, 

With the dreaded gray, cold inversion in place in the Treasure Valley, it's pretty much a no-brainer for me to find a way to escape from that depressing scene to go play in the mountains above! Hope you can do that, too! 

The weather forecast for this weekend is nothing but sunshine at higher elevations and ground fog and cold temps in the valley floors. 

The McCall Winter Carnival kicks off on Friday and runs for two weekends through Feb 8. This year's theme is: "Return to our Roots." I've heard lodging is really hard to find in McCall proper, and Donnelly and Cascade may be tough, too, so be sure to reserve something quick, if you're hoping to stay overnight. Maybe try for mid-week, next week? 

But even a day trip to McCall to see all the ice sculptures - and perhaps get out on some type of outdoor outing during the day - would be worth the trip! There are things to see and do in Donnelly and Cascade as well this weekend, and also Tamarack Resort has ice sculptures to view, live music, multiple food venues, and all kinds of skiing/riding, of course, on the mountain. 

Check out the McCall Winter Carnival events schedule for all of the details.  

I noticed that the free ice skating rink at Golden Glove Park in McCall is freshly flooded and ready to go. There was no one there when I shot this picture, and the ice skating surface is beautiful! 

Ice skating is free, BTW. Just bring your own skates. 

More sculpture pics that took on Thursday ... 

Train at Fogglifter coffee house and cafe. 

Horse-drawn chariot at Whitetail Real Estate and Shore Lodge 

Rupert's executive chef Gary Kucy fashioned this sculpture for Stacey Cakes ... "Pig Out!" 

Other events of note include: 

  • Idaho Mountain Freeride series with slopestyle and rail jam events going on at the Little Ski Hill this weekend and Tamarack Resort next weekend.  
  • Bloody Marys and DJ Dance Party at the Yacht Club in McCall. 
  • Snowbike race in Cascade
  • Fireworks
  • Beer gardens 
  • Dog sled races 
  • Pancake breakfasts
  • McCall Starz on Ice
Again, see the McCall Winter Carnival events schedule for all the details. 

Remember that you can go downhill skiing at Brundage Mountain in McCall, xc skiing or snowshoeing at Bear Basin, Ponderosa State Park, Jug Mountain Ranch and the North Valley Trail, snow biking at Jug Mountain Ranch, tubing at the Activity Barn, guided snowmobile trips, snowmobile rentals, hot springs and more to do!   

Lake Cascade State Park has xc skiing and snowshoeing on the Crown Point Trail. 

Have a great weekend! 
- SS 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Five winter hiking/walking ideas in SW Idaho for this picture postcard weekend!

Lots of room to roam with your puppies at Ann Morrison Park in Boise. 

Hi all, 

A storm front is expected to clear out the valley fog and inversion for a day or so while the mountains got freshened with 4-5" of new snow Thursday night and we got 2-3" in the valley floor. 

Please see my outdoor article in the Idaho Press about five places to go winter hiking in SW Idaho ... 

  • Ann Morrison Park
  • Hyatt Hidden Lakes
  • Eagle Island State Park
  • Eagle Greenbelt Loop
  • Snake River trail from either the east trailhead, west of Swan Falls Dam, or starting at Celebration Park. 
See the full article here:

All of these hikes are featured in Boise Trail Guide: 95 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home. 

You can pick up a copy of Boise Trail Guide at Boise REI, Idaho Mountain Touring and Rediscovered Books. 

Have a great weekend!

- SS 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Head for the mountains to go play in the snow for MLK holiday weekend!

Happy xc skiers enjoying the Idaho Park and Ski trail system. (Courtesy Tom Helmer, IDPR) 

Hi all, 

Last week at this time, Idaho's ski areas and mountains were getting hammered by heavy snowfall - to the point where ID 21 was snowed shut, the Idaho City Park and Ski Areas were smothered with snow, avalanche conditions were high to extreme, and powder skiers and snowboarders were having a great time shredding powder at alpine resorts. 

Following one of the snowiest Decembers on record, a high pressure weather system that's dominating Idaho and the West at the moment is bringing clear skies and bluebird weather conditions in the mountains for a long 3-day weekend. For many, Monday is a holiday observed in memory of the great civil rights activist, Martin Luther King. 

Courtesy Tom Helmer, IDPR 

So my outdoor tip this week is to get out and play in the snow! 

  • The Idaho City Park and Ski Areas have been freshly groomed this week along with the parking lots north of Idaho City on Idaho 21 between Mores Creek Summit and Beaver Creek Summit. That'll be a great option for xc skiing, snowshoeing or snow-biking on groomed trails. Remember to purchase a Park and Ski parking sticker online before you go.  
    Carving turns on freshly groomed slopes is a treat (courtesy Tamarack Resort).  

  • Our downhill ski areas have plenty of snow and they're 100 percent open. If you don't have a season pass, try to buy day tickets in advance at Bogus Basin, Tamarack Resort or Brundage Mountain. In Sun Valley, you might have the best chance of a discounted lift ticket if you purchase a sky and stay package. See the Sun Valley web site for more information. If you have trouble finding a day ticket, another option could be Soldier Mountain in Fairfield. 
  • Nordic skiing and snowshoeing at Bogus Basin, McCall, Galena Lodge and the Wood River Trail system will be stellar.   

    North Valley Trail is open to xc skiing, snowshoeing and snow biking 

  • Snow-biking - Bogus Basin, Jug Mountain Ranch, the North Valley Trail in McCall and the Idaho City Park and Ski areas allow snow-biking. Conditions are excellent right now because the trails are freezing hard at night. Bogus has bikes available for rent.    
If you're heading to McCall or Sun Valley, look for a place to stay overnight in advance through VRBOAirBnB or book a hotel. Check with the McCall Chamber or Sun Valley Chamber for more lodging options. 

If you're staying close to home, the Ridge to Rivers trails are kind of treacherous right now because of the mix of snow, ice and mud that you'll find in the afternoon. Be sure to use the trails in the morning when they're frozen to avoid causing damage. Always check the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page for the latest advice before you go. 

Boise River Greenbelt is plowed and dry for walking, running and biking.

The Boise River Greenbelt is fully plowed and dry, BTW ... I did an hour-long ride from Veterans Park to the orange ParkCenter bridge and back yesterday, and it was impressive how well the pathway was cleared of snow and ice. 

When you're out and about, please be mindful of the omicron coronavirus spreading right now and respect local masking requirements/recommendations.

Have a great weekend! 
- SS 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Lots of new snow to enjoy! But ... be careful out there! Avalanche danger is high!

Wendy and Steve xc skiing at Bear Basin in McCall, one of our favorite spots. 

Hi all, 

Winter got a late start in mid-December, but here we are several weeks later, and the amount of snow we've been getting in SW Idaho and Central Idaho has been off the charts! 

This week, following the Christmas-New Year's holiday, it's been snowing like crazy and people who are retired or don't have to work are enjoying one hell of a powder parade at Idaho's ski areas! 

That said, the warm-up that's occurring Thursday in the Boise Mountains will make the new snow heavier and more prone to sliding. Avalanche danger is "considerable" to "high" depending on location. If you go backcountry skiing or snowshoeing, be safe and know that the snow is going to be deep and difficult to break trail. It'd be smartest to stick to established trail networks or ski areas to avoid extreme danger. 

Be aware that Idaho Highway 21 is closed at the present time from Granite Creek, north of Idaho City, to Lowman. That means areas around Mores Creek Summit and the Idaho City Park and Ski areas will not be accessible until the highway reopens. See the Idaho 511 site for the latest road conditions. 

I checked the Mores Creek snotel site this morning, and it's had 16" of new snow in the last two days! Snow depth is 78 inches!   

Given the road closure, it might be better to head up to Garden Valley, Cascade or McCall to enjoy the snow, if you're a xc skier or snowshoer. Closer to home, Bogus Basin also has extensive Nordic and snowshoe trails; I highly recommend them, too.  

See the Bogus BasinBrundage Mountain Resort and Tamarack Resort web sites for more information on their latest conditions for downhill skiing. It's been an epic powder week to say the least. More snow is coming on Friday, with 10" to 12" or more at Tam and Brundage forecast, and 5" at Bogus. Bundle up and be ready for heavy snow conditions!  

See my post at the Idaho Daily Snow for the latest snow forecasts for Idaho. 

If you're a fair-weather skier, the snow will taper off by Friday night, and Saturday-Sunday will be clear and sunny in most locations. High pressure is moving in for the next week or so. 

Sun ValleyGalena Lodge and the Wood River Valley also have getting slammed with snow. Galena and BCRD have the whole Wood River Trail system groomed up and ready to go. World-class xc skiing and snowshoeing.  

McCall Nordic areas have 2-3 feet of snow for a base and excellent conditions. You can choose from  Ponderosa State Park, Bear Basin, Tamarack Resort, Jug Mountain Ranch and the North Valley Trail. Click on the McCall Nordic link for the latest grooming conditions. 

Again, be aware that there's substantial avalanche danger following the big snow storms! See the latest reports from the Sawtooth Avalanche Center and Payette Avalanche Center. It may be best to stick to lower-gradient slopes and do some touring to avoid any potential danger. 

Snow biking has been fun the last couple of weeks while things have been cold and snowy.

While it's been fun to go walking, xc skiing, snow-shoeing, snow-biking or sledding in the Boise Foothills, be aware that the warmer temps in the Boise Valley will continue to melt that snow, with forecast highs in the mid-40s and rain Thursday, Jan. 6 and Friday, Jan. 7. Ridge to Rivers is recommending staying off the trails when they're muddy and slushy in the afternoon.  

In case you were wondering, interesting to see the latest Idaho snowpack map ... we are catching up! 

- SS