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Explore North Central Idaho’s Winter Wander Land

December 19, 2022

Calling all sunbirds…yes, that is indeed the opposite of a snowbird…one who loves colder weather, snow, and all things winter. If you love winter, North Central Idaho is the perfect place to plan an adventure.

Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling near Elk City ©Idaho Tourism

North Central Idaho has over a thousand miles of groomed trails. Our region is home to six distinct riding areas, each with its own grooming program, unique characteristics, local hospitality, and amenities that will make your snowmobiling experience unparalleled. Comfortable and affordable lodging facilities are abundant throughout the region, along with a variety of restaurants and pubs to help make your stay more enjoyable. Equipment rental and repair is offered by area dealers, and guided back-country excursions are offered by several licensed outfitters. Adventure packages which feature lodging, snowmobile rentals, and guide services are readily available. The trail systems can be accessed easily from the doorstep of many of the region’s resorts and lodging establishments. Here's a complete list of OHV (Off-Highway Vehicles) trails in the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/nezperceclearwater/recreation/ohv/?recid=16470&actid=93

MOSCOW, BOVILL, ELK RIVER 300 miles groomed

PIERCE, WEIPPE 200 miles groomed

POWELL/LOLO PASS 75 miles groomed

ELK CITY, DIXIE, CLEARWATER 350 miles groomed

GRANGEVILLE, WHITE BIRD 150 miles groomed

WINCHESTER, SOLDIERS MEADOWS 250 miles groomed

Cross-Country Skiing, Nordic Skiing Snowshoeing & Winter Fat Biking

Many of the snowmobile trails are also open to skiers, hikers and bikers with a few etiquette rules involved.

These areas are non-motorized for skiing, snowshoeing and winter biking:

Fish Creek Meadows Park N’ Ski

Just south of Grangeville is Fish Creek Meadows Park N’ Ski area. The terrain is moderate and well-suited for beginners and intermediate skiers. On a clear day, you can see Seven Devils and Gospel Hump Wilderness areas. Snowshoeing is allowed only off groomed trails. A warming hut is available.

Palouse Divide Park N’ Ski

area is northeast of Moscow. Palouse Divide has something for everyone -- Nordic trails for skate skiers and traditional cross-country skiers; a snowshoeing area on the west side of Idaho Hwy 6; and several opportunities for backcountry skiers to carve turns on either side of the highway. About 12 of the 18 miles of trail are groomed periodically. The ski trails hug the mountainside and contour through a forested setting, making them suitable for most abilities. 

Winchester Lake State Park

The Lakeshore Trail at Winchester Lake State Park is 3.3 miles looping around the lake and through the forest. This scenic area is perfect for beginner to intermediate cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and biking. Heated yurts are available to rent and come with snowshoes during the winter months.

Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding & Tubing

North Central Idaho is home to three ski hills.


Bald Mountain, near Pierce, is an affordable, safe, family atmosphere with a wide variety of terrain and a good mixture of powder and groomed runs for skiers of all levels. Bald Mountain has 19 named runs across 140 acres and averages 200" of annual snowfall. skibaldmountain.com.

Snowhaven, in Grangeville, offers uncrowded downhill skiing, snowboarding, and a bonus Tube Run, great for family fun. Two ski lifts serve over 40 acres of snow-covered terrain, with slopes for beginner through advanced skiers. Enjoy meticulously groomed runs or the challenge of "powder hounding" in the trees. 

Situated just outside of Cottonwood, Cottonwood Butte is a relatively small ski area compared to some others in the state. However, with an 845-foot vertical drop, it can hold its own against many of its larger or swankier neighbors. With approximately 60 ski-friendly acres, this ski area has become a favorite among locals and visitors. Cottonwood has seven trails and two lifts.

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing ©Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune

In December and January, ice fishing heats up! Grab some thermoses of hot cocoa, dress warmly, and gather your gear for an unforgettable experience with the end result being some tasty fish.

Spring Valley Reservoir

Just north of Troy is Spring Valley Reservoir Surrounded by rolling hills and trees, the fishing opportunities are excellent for ice anglers because trout are stocked heavily in the fall, with many of the fish carrying over into the winter months. A trail surrounds the reservoir that can be used as a snowshoe or cross country ski trail. Amenities include a picnic shelter, restrooms, benches, and picnic tables. 

Winchester Lake

Near Winchester, Winchester Lake is located in a beautiful forested area adjoining a State Park. Winchester Lake offers very easy access. Facilities include a picnic shelter, benches, picnic tables, RV and campsites. Many facilities are located in Winchester State Park, where an entrance fee applies. The park rents heated yurts that come with snowshoes during winter, so anglers can plan an overnight fishing trip and have easy access to the lake and a warm place to sleep or take a break from fishing. Idaho Fish and Game stocks thousands of rainbow trout in the fall with ice anglers in mind. 

Deer Creek Reservoir

Just north of Pierce is a beautiful mountain reservoir that was built specifically for trout fishing. Rainbow trout are stocked from spring through fall in this remote setting. To add variety, this lake is also stocked with sterile brook trout and tiger trout. Trout limit is 6, only two may be Tiger Trout, no Tiger Trout under 14 inches. Winter access to this reservoir is hike-in only. The gate is closed to motorized access from Sept. 30 through May 20. 

Soldiers Meadow Reservoir

Located on Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Waha, Soldiers Meadow reservoir is open year-round to fishing. Available species include rainbow trout and kokanee. This 124-acre reservoir with four miles of shoreline is stocked with kokanee and nearly rainbow trout in the summer, which gives ice anglers an opportunity to catch both species for prime ice fishing. 

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