Idaho has all the ingredients for an awesome ski experience: high-elevation peaks and runs, seemingly endless fresh powder, and millions upon millions of acres of untouched backcountry. If you haven’t skied Idaho’s terrain, your bucket list needs an upgrade. Here’s what you’re missing.
Skinning the largest contiguous protected area of wilderness in the continental U.S.
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area is best known for its summer river rafting, but the Idaho landscape doesn’t “close” in winter. If you’re up for an extreme adventure, take your skins into the backcountry and access some of the 2.3 million acres of wilderness area — the largest (and best) contiguous plot of land in the Lower 48. It’s one sure place to ski peaks that may well have never been skied before, but there’s also plenty of wildlife (elk, deer, bobcats), steamy hot springs, and miles and miles and miles of views.
Pro tip: Brush up on your avalanche preparedness beforehand with one of the many guides in the area, such as Payette Powder Guides, and get out there.
Skiing on the moon
Where else can you ski on snow-crusted lava fields and glide through an alien landscape? Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is bizarre and otherworldly all year, but the absurdity of the landscape is especially apparent in the winter when the burnt earth is blanketed in snow.
The park encompasses 1,100 square miles of basaltic lava flows, spatter cone volcanoes, and charred forests. During winter months the monument maintains a Nordic ski and snowshoe loop that includes a steep descent down the Inferno Cone. Just talking about it gets you serious cred.