Thursday, December 29, 2022

Points Ranch, Idaho Sleigh Rides offer great opportunity to see elk, enjoy the scenery!

My son Quinn enjoys a moment with a cow elk on the Points Ranch sleigh ride. 

Hi all,

We've had a very snowy start to the winter of 2022-23, and so the full slate of outdoor snow activities are available to enjoy, looking ahead to January and February of 2023. 

One thing you could plan with your immediate family or a group of friends is an elk-viewing sleigh ride with Idaho Sleigh Rides in Garden Valley or the Points Ranch near Donnelly. 

There's plenty of snow on the ground, which has driven the elk to lower elevations for their winter range. Both sleigh rides provide ample opportunities to see elk while enjoying the broader scenery. Both will be operating 7 days a week through the rest of the winter. Reservations are required. 

Get a group of friends together and reserve a trip!

The Points Ranch sleigh ride takes about 1 hour. They feed the elk while they take folks on the horse-drawn sleigh ride. The elk are watching and waiting for you to come by with more alfalfa hay ... and you'll have very up-close-and-personal encounters with them! 

I took my whole family on the Points Ranch sleigh ride, and they all loved it! 
My step-daughter Elena actually got kissed by an elk while it was feeding on a hay bale in the sleigh, and she thought that was quite memorable!

The Points Ranch is located south of Donnelly next to ID 55. They load people on the sleighon an hourly basis, and you go on a very slow loop through a big group of elk. Call 208-325-8783 to make a reservation and inquire about rates.

In Garden Valley, Idaho Sleigh Rides offers a great variety of trips, from a simple sleigh ride, to a sleigh ride and lunch, to a Dutch oven dinner ride with live music. They have a small sleigh for groups of four, and a larger sleigh that fits 12 people.  The rides last about 45 minutes and take you on a tour of some large snowy meadows and big groups of elk in Garden Valley, with the mountains lording above.
"We see the elk every day," says Darl Allred of Idaho Sleigh Rides. 
Contact Idaho Sleigh Rides to make reservations and check on pricing. 
Like I said, get a group of friends together and reserve a trip!

In Sun Valley, you can go on a sleigh ride during the day or do a deluxe dinner ride to Trail Creek Cabin. Both experiences would be great, but believe me, the dinner ride to Trail Creek Cabin would be memorable! Reservations required.

Unfortunately, Bogus Creek Outfitters is no longer in business, so if you live in the Treasure Valley, you'll need to travel to enjoy a sleigh ride. It's worth going up to the mountains to enjoy the beautiful scenery and ensure there's plenty of snow for the trip!

No matter where you go, be sure to dress warm for the sleigh ride trip. That means full-on winter gear -- long underwear, warm sweater, snow pants or a snowmobile suit, warm boots, warm winter hat and warm mittens or gloves. Bring a thermos of hot coffee or cocoa perhaps?
- SS
P.S. We have had a phenomenal series of winter storms pass through Idaho's mountains since Nov. 1. Suffice to say that the snow conditions are outstanding everywhere for sleigh rides and any other type of winter activity right now. See my daily snow forecasts about snow conditions at Idaho's ski resorts on

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Stueby's Christmas gift recommendations for the Outdoorsy Him and Her - 2022 edition!

Happy Holidays! 

Hi all, 

Christmas is just 10 days away! It's time for my annual Christmas gift ideas for the outdoorsy him and her.

This year's list includes recommendations for our friends at Idaho Mountain TouringBoise REI, and McU Sports about the latest popular and trendy items.

Now, on to the gifts!

1. A warm, cozy Carhartt vest from D&B Supply, or a Patagonia down vest from Idaho Mountain
Boise REIGreenwoods Ski Haus or McU Sports.

2. Socks - Lots of color, designs and patterns, Smart Wool comfort made in the USA. Everyday Compression to support people standing on their feet, and it doesn't take 3 men and gorilla to put your socks on. 

3.  Lights for your campsite. REI recommends Revel Gear Trail Hound lights ($25) - it's a 30-foot string of colored LED lights that could provide a festive feel for your campsite.

4Lights for your bike, your head or your body. The Bontrager Ion 200-1000 human light ($100) looks like it could light up the trails as if you're on a professional movie set.

6. Ski gloves - It's nice to have several pairs that work for various tasks such as driving, xc skiing or snowshoeing (thinner weight), and alpine skiing (warmer). I have a pair of the Hestra Heli-Insulated gloves pictured here ($155), and man are they nice! Always keep my hands warm! Mine are mittens with a trigger finger. For xc skiing and lightweight use, look in the work glove section of May Hardware in McCall or a local Maverick service station.

7. Snowshoes - It takes a lot of time and money to master the art of skiing or snowboarding, but just about anyone who can walk can strap on a pair of snowshoes and do great! It helps to bring a pair of ski poles for balance. There are many different brands available. Price range: $50-$150 for snowshoe-pole combo sets. You might be able to find a new or used pair at the Boise Outdoor Gear Exchange. Chris from IMT recommends these super-light TSL snowshoes with Boa closures. They're made out of carbon fiber. Prices range from $69 and up. Nice gift for a serious snow-shoer, but they also have kids models priced right at $39.95.

Women's Apt. 9® Herringbone Cadet Hat8. Winter hats - Can't go wrong in this department, but it's always nice to find a winter hat that has personality! Similar with gloves, it's nice to have different winter hats for situations when it's relatively warm or you're working up a sweat (thinner weight), and when you need a bomber warm hat that keeps you warm in single digits or sub-zero weather. Remember that wool ultimately rocks in the warmth department. Another helpful item is a facemask for the really cold days on the mountain. I also love the smart-looking ballcap-style hats they make for women.

9. Patagonia trucker hats - Chris at IMT: These are Red Hot!- every age loves them -- men, women and kids.

10. Headlamp - For outdoorsy folks, it's about as easy to lose a

headlamp as it is to lose a pair of socks. Especially if you're a family of outdoorsy folks ... everyone borrows your headlamp and it never comes back! You can snag a headlamp for $25-$50, and it has great value for your camping trips, night hiking, river trips, backpacking, even for use around the home! My favorite brands include Petzl and Black Diamond. Get a bright one and you'll appreciate it! My latest Black Diamond model runs on 4 AAA batteries and it's really nice and bright.

11. Dog accessories from Ruffwear. How about an insulated coat for your pup? $79.95. Those things are so danged cute!

12. Guidebooks! - Ha! Always a thoughtful item in the stocking or under the tree ... my guides are available of course, from Boise Trail Guide, Owyhee Canyonlands, Paddling the Payette, updated for SUPers, and Boise Road Cycling Guide, plus my biography on the great champion for birds of prey Morley Nelson, Cool North Wind, in memory of all of his achievements related to the creation of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Plus I recommend Matt Leidecker's guides for the Sawtooths, White Clouds and Middle Fork Salmon River.

13. Capilene tops, long underwear - For any outdoorsy person who's active, getting out and exercising several days a week, you can quickly run short of tops and bottoms after they get pitted out and pitched into the laundry. So it's nice to have a deep supply of different tops especially ... lightweight, midweight, expedition weight, etc. These items typically run $25-$75. REI and Patagonia make gear with lasting value. Take a look at smart wool, too. 

14. Buck knife or Swiss Army knife - These items also have a way of disappearing. But especially guys appreciate having a knife handy for all sorts of things. A single-blade Buck knife is really sleek and cool, and the multi-tasking Swiss Army knives are always a hit. Boise Army Navy has a great selection of knives.

15. Hydro Flask - Previously known as a water bottle, the hydro flasks available today can be used for drinking coffee on the go, taking a long a nice hot cup of tea or hot chocolate on an outdoor outing, or actually packing plain old water. Hydro Flask is a brand by itself, but there are many other brands that make quality stainless steel insulated cups and containers. Pricing is in the $10 to $25 range or more. 

16. River Gear - Pick up some accessories or a new SUP, hard-shell kayak, inflatable kayak, canoe or raft at Idaho River SportsCascade River GearAIRE in Meridian,  or Boise Army-Navy.

It's probably safe to say that we're all ready to bid 2020 goodbye because of the Covid-19 pandemic. So thankful to see vaccinations coming online for our health care workers and all of us who will need that ASAP. Gives me hope that things could return to "normal" sometime next year. It may be months before the vaccines are available to the average person. 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
- SS  

Steve talks about his weekly outdoor tip on 94.9 FM The River on Friday mornings with Ken and Michelle at about 7:40 a.m. Please listen in!

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Steve's Outdoor Tips: Tamarack opens Friday, Idaho City Park and Ski trails are groomed for the weekend and more!

Should be one heck of a powdery weekend in the mountains! 

Hi all, 

For this week's outdoor tip of the week, here are some newsy items to know: 

  • Big storm coming Friday-Monday this weekend in Southwest Idaho. The storm is forecast to drop 18-24" of new snow in the Boise Mountains and at Bogus Basin, Tamarack, Brundage, the West-Central Mountains, Sawtooths, Soldier Mountain and Sun Valley. Everyone is going to benefit! The main storm event will be Friday night-Saturday and Saturday night, but it will keep snowing through Sunday and Monday. A Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect all weekend. See my latest report on the Idaho Daily Snow
          For those of you who like to avoid crowds, Soldier Mountain might be a great pick this weekend. They're supposed to get at least 2 feet of new snow!  
Skiing with Quinn below Stargaze Yurt near Beaver Creek Summit. 
  • The Idaho City Park and Ski Areas have been groomed this week and will be ready for xc skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking this weekend. Bear in mind that the trails are groomed once/week, so the snow will pile up over the weekend. That'll make for a snowy experience! Bring a shovel! See the IDPR Non-Motorized Trails Facebook page for updates. 

    Fresh powder and groomers await skiers/riders at Tamarack Resort on Friday.
    (Photo courtesy Tamarack Resort) 

  • Tamarack Resort is opening its slopes for the first time for alpine skiing on Friday, Dec. 9. The Tamarack Express, Summit Express and Discovery lifts will be running this weekend. Wildwood is not open yet. The main terrain park will be open on Lower Showtime and beginner terrain park on the Discovery lift. Tam Nordic trails are open and groomed for xc skiing.  
         They'll have a DJ playing Saturday by Tamarack Express Lift to celebrate the season getting under way, and there will be s'mores on the snowfront Saturday and Sunday from 3 pm - 5pm. Tamarack also is hosting a ski film festival this weekend. See the Tamarack web site for more information.   
  • Night skiing starts at Bogus Basin on Friday, Dec. 9. Bogus is 100 percent open. Should be a heck of a powder weekend!   
  • Steve wrote a major feature story about Jo Cassin and Stan Kolby's 35-year journey of running Idaho River Sports in Boise and growing it into the Center of the Universe for the river-boating community. See the full article in the Idaho Press Outdoors. Steve wrote the story in first person since his own whitewater boating history occurred at the same time that IRS opened in 1987 and continues to this day. 
  • Be sure to stay off Muddy Trails this weekend. It may be rainy and muddy in the lower trails.  Check on the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page for the latest conditions. The trail off of Bogus Basin Road over to Stack Rock would be a good bet for snowshoeing or maybe boot hiking.     
  • The Boise Bicycle Project is looking for more kids bikes for the Christmas give-away. If you've got some bikes that you can give away, take them over to BBP! See more on the BBP Facebook page.    
That's it! Have fun! 
- SS 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ullr dumps big *pow* in Idaho's Mountains, ski conditions are gonna be great! Bring a shovel!

Rider carves fresh turns in Sun Valley *pow* (Courtesy 
Hi all, 

The latest snow storm Tuesday-Wednesday this week was forecast to be a doozy, and by God, it was!!! The Snow God Ullr took a deep breath and let out a big roar - sending oodles of powder snow our way!  

Courtesy Brundage Mountain web cam 12/1/22 

Ha! For those of who like to ski/snowboard/snowshoe/xc ski/make snow angels, and play in the snow, this is "Go Time"! 

Since Tuesday, new snow amounts as of Thursday night: 

  • Bogus Basin - 10" last 24 hours, 20" in the last 7 days. They are operating 7 days a week. All front side lifts are open at this point, and backside lifts have yet to open. Nordic trails are open. Night skiing begins Dec. 9. 
  • Brundage Mountain - 15" in the last 24 hours, 33" in the last week. They reopen Friday morning for full operations with the Bluebird quad and Centennial lifts running. 
  • Tamarack - 9" in the last 24 hours, 13" in the last 48 hours. They plan on opening on Dec. 9.
  • Sun Valley - 4" in the last 24 hours, 7" in the last 48 hours, 10" in the last 72 hours. I bet the snow might be deeper than that, looking at the pics on their Facebook page.  Sun Valley is operating daily.  

    See my latest report on the Idaho Daily Snow.  
Courtesy Bogus Basin web cam

So basically, we've gotten at least a foot of new snow in the last week, if not 2-3 feet in the highest elevations. Snow bases are now in the 30-40" range already and growing. All of this new snow is going to set up our ski areas and the Idaho mountains for a great winter and ski season! And it's only Dec. 1! 

Personally, I'm planning on downhill skiing at Brundage Friday and Saturday, and also do some xc skiing with Wendy and Huck at the Bear Basin Nordic Center. Once all of the Nordic trails are groomed in the McCall area on Friday and Saturday morning, the conditions should be excellent. See McCall Nordic for all of the latest grooming reports.
Wendy and Ellie at Bear Basin on Saturday 

FYI - Near Idaho City, the Idaho Park and Ski Trails aren't groomed yet ... I checked with IDPR staff, and they reported that because Idaho Highway 21 got closed by the big snow storm, they can't get the groomer up on site to roll the trails at Gold Fork, Skyline, Banner, etc. There's plenty of snow base now so those trails will be in great shape once they're groomed.   

That said, people can still go backcountry skiing, Nordic touring and snowshoeing at More's Creek Summit, Beaver Creek Summit and at Gold Fork and Skyline by just breaking your own trail and finding your own adventure. You might need shovels to dig out a spot where you can park your car! Be sure to care avalanche beacons, probes and shovels if you're venturing into the backcountry on your own. 

Wood River Valley xc ski trails are in great shape and it looks like 100 percent of their terrain is open. They report 5" of new in the last 12 hours, 12" in the last 24 hours.  

Another idea: Upper Ridge to Rivers trails like the trail to Stack Rock from Bogus Basin Road are snow-packed and in great shape for boot hiking, snowshoeing and snow biking. 

Be sure to drive carefully and be safe out there!
Have fun!  
- SS