Thursday, January 19, 2023

Have you reserved a backcountry yurt yet? How about river permits? Campgrounds for next summer?

Great views of the Boulder Mountains, north of Ketchum, can be seen from the Tornak Hut,
owned and operated by Sun Valley Trekking.   

Hi all, 

The deadline is drawing near for the Four Rivers Lottery if you'd like to try to draw a permit to run the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Main Salmon - River of No Return wilderness section, Selway River or Hells Canyon. 

Applications must be turned into by Jan. 31. 

The odds of drawing seem to be getting worse every year. But some way, somehow, your friends might get a permit, or you might be able to pick up a cancelation through

One things for sure ... if you do draw a permit, you will become everyone's best friend practically overnight! So don't delay in getting your applications in on time. 

Reserve a hut for backcountry ski/snowshoe trips

It used to be pretty easy to book backcountry ski hut/yurt trips in Idaho, but now it's become so popular that you almost have to book them one year in an advance.

Looking back at my outings for winter fun, yurt trips always stand out as one of the best things to do. Go play in the snow during the day and then return to the comfort of a yurt or ski hut, crank up the wood stove and enjoy a fun time in the evening with your friends out of the wind and cold weather.   

Here are the main places to go: 

Idaho City Park and Ski yurt system — There are six yurts to choose from: Banner Ridge, Elkhorn, Skyline, Stargaze, Rocky Ridge and The Hennessy. In my experience, the best skiing is at Banner Ridge, Stargaze and the Hennessy. Make online reservations at the IDPR website or call 888-922-6743.

Sun Valley Trekking — They’ve got yurts that are pretty close to the highway, such as the Boulder Yurts, which work great for less-experienced skiers/snowshoers, young children or seniors and other yurts and ski huts that are farther into the country. All of them are well appointed and well maintained. Tornak, Bench Lake and Coyote are my favorites. Reservations: Sun Valley Trekking or 208-788-1966.

Payette Powder Guides — The Lick Creek yurts at the top of Lick Creek Pass are located next to oodles of big-mountain powder skiing terrain. Book a trip with Payette Powder Guides and you'll get a snowcat ride to Lick Creek Summit and a ride back at the end of your trip. Having snowmobiles at your disposal is a good thing because you can ride to where you want to ski, expanding options. Reservations: Payette Powder Guides or call 208-634-6793. PPG also offers avalanche courses during the winter.

Galena Lodge — There are four yurts at Galena and all of them are relatively close to the parking lot (less than an hour ski/snowshoe into the yurts). That’s a bonus. If you like to skate ski, cross-country ski or snowshoe, you’ve got a world-class Nordic cross-country ski system right outside the door with 50 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails and 25K’s of marked snowshoe trails. Galena Lodge serves warm lunches and it has a full suite of services for cross-country skiers, including lessons, waxing and tune-up services. Check with Galena Lodge 208-726-4010 for pricing and availability.

Sawtooth Mountain Guides — High above the Williams Peak yurt, you can rip 2,000 verts of powder from the Skiers Summit back to the yurt. That run always puts a big smile on my face. Williams Peak is very popular and it’s booked solid each winter. Sawtooth Mountain Guides or 208-774-3324.

How about reservations for the McCall Winter Carnival, coming up on Jan. 27-Feb. 5. Lodging properties in McCall typically book up a year in advance. Maybe you could find a cabin rental through, AirBnb or VRBO? See the McCall Chamber site for more information on the Winter Carnival. 

How about reservations for your favorite national forest campground? Go to and get that buttoned down for next summer ... or the summer after that?
- SS 

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