Winter is in its waning days. Spring officially begins the 20th of March, but here in the Idaho mountains, old man winter lingers a bit longer. February and March offer some of the best opportunities to get out and enjoy the winter before the ice and snow give way to the sun pushing further North. Unlike the earlier winter months, the days are getting noticeably longer, which assures plenty of daylight hours to get out and play in. Here are five things you must do when you visit Stanley this winter.
Don’t store your machines away just yet! Thanks to the elevation of Stanley Basin and considerably colder temperatures, the snow hangs on much longer. Even late into March, you can find powder as fresh as January. There are 1000’s of acres of untouched powdery bliss in challenging terrain in addition to hundreds of miles of groomed trail, accommodating all skill levels. Stanley and the Salmon River Snowmobile Club are hosting a couple more events this winter, the Idaho Backcountry Ladies Ride February 19th and 20th and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association State Ride March 5th and 6th. Register here: State Ride. Don’t have a snowmobile? Sawtooth Traxx has got you covered!
There are no chair lifts, T-bars, or rope pulls in the Stanley Basin, but those who dare to venture can make every day a powder day! For the backcountry skier, you couldn't ask for a more beautiful landscape to carve up some tracks. Surrounding Stanley are thousands of acres of virgin powder waiting for your arrival. For guided adventures, contact Sawtooth Mountain Guides.
If backcountry skiing isn’t your thing, two cross country ski areas call the sawtooth Valley home. Park Creek Ski Trails are approx. 7.5 miles east on highway 21. The Alturas Lake Ski Trails are approx. 24 miles South on highway 75. Both ski areas offer miles of trails with varied terrain, accommodating all skill levels. Both ski areas are managed by the Sawtooth Ski Club and are free with much appreciated donations at the trailheads.
It’s difficult to deny the beauty of the Sawtooths in the winter, but very few people witness it’s beauty beyond the highway corridors. Late winter into early spring is the best time to break out those snowshoes. The warmer days combined with cold nights has the effect of hardening the top layer of snow into a crust. The weight distribution of snowshoes makes it easy to walk across the surface as if it were a paved path. Snowshoers are also welcome on the groomed trails at both ski areas and trails leading into Stanley Lake and Redfish Lake. Snowshoe rentals are available at Lower Stanley Country Store.
Many are unaware that Stanley has a ice rink. Beneath the towering Sawtooth Mountains the most beautiful rink in the world does exist! Whether you like to dance and pirouette with the grace of a figure skater or play a competitive game of hockey, the Stanley ice rink is your world. The rink is located near by the airport just east of the city park. If you are a beginner and don’t have your own, a variety skates are available for use at the rink.
Though the winter cold is a formidable force, mother nature has offered us sanctuary in the mountains of Idaho. Hot Springs! Many of these oasis’s’ are tucked deep in the wilderness, others are easily accessible along the major highways. You can soak those tired bones along the banks of the Salmon River in the more primitive Sunbeam Hot Springs or make a reservation for the developed pool at the Mountain Village Resort with a spectacular view of the Sawtooth Mountains along the banks of Valley Creek. What better way to relax after a long day playing in the snow!
If past years hold true, late February into March brings higher average precipitation than the drier, colder months of December and January. Temperatures remain below freezing, while sun-soaked days fuel wanderlust. Local restaurants, hotels and retail shops are open at full operation, or in some cases, limited to weekend operations. So why not bring the skis and sleds to Stanley, order a pie from Papa Brunees, have a soak in the Mountain Village hot springs, and pick up a souvenir from Riverwear to cherish the memories a winter in Stanley Brings!