Snow is in the forecast, temperatures are dipping closer to freezing, and you’re bored sitting at home all day staring out the window at the miserable weather.
But then you remember: you live in Idaho. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Idaho is called the Gem State for its abundance of rare minerals, but it also holds hidden gems that’ll keep you busy, active — and most importantly, warm — through the long winter months.
From hot springs along the Salmon River to cozy cabins in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, here are some unique adventures that’ll keep you busy this winter.
Mountain Village Lodge
Located on the edge of Stanley in the Sawtooth Valley, Mountain Village is a 61-room lodge just a short walk from the Salmon River. The lodge’s warm wooden interior is sure to keep out the cold, and while the lodge is ideally located for winter activities such as snowmobiling and skiing, the natural hot spring is the key attraction.
A short distance from the lodge, a hot spring piped into an artificial pool large enough for eight people is sheltered inside a small log cabin. The cabin’s large barn doors open toward the Sawtooth Mountains, offering stunning views and fresh mountain air while sheltering you from the cold northern winds.
The pool remains between 98 and 104 degrees at all times and is available by reservation only.
I Bar Ranch Cabin
There’s nothing large or grand about I Bar Ranch Cabin, but it’s magnificent in its own rustic and unique way.
Situated not far from Challis in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, you can disconnect from the rest of the world in this small timber cabin — literally, there is no WiFi, television or air conditioning.
Thankfully, a wood stove inside the thick log walls will keep things warm, and during the day, you can enjoy the rolling wintry hills and nearby Mill Creek.
You can rent the cabin on Airbnb.
Boat Box Hot Springs
Just a quick 3.8-mile drive north of Stanley along Highway 75, keep an eye out on your right for a small pull-out area and steam mysteriously rising from the Salmon River.
Upon parking in the small pull-off area that only holds about three cars, you’ll find a small steaming cauldron of hot water: Boat Box Hot Springs.
The name comes from an old wooden box tub that once sat in the exact location before being swept away. The new hot tub is fixed down by cables on the bank of the Salmon River, and steaming hot water is pumped into it.
Too hot? Simply grab the nearby bucket and dip it into the river for a fresh dose of cold mountain water to cool the hot tub down.
Teton Springs Lodge and Spa
But for those who want to stay warm, the lodge offers one- and two-bedroom suites and a 5,000-square-foot spa. Whether you’re looking for a manicure and pedicure, relaxation in the wet steam room, or want to enjoy some time with nature in two outdoor hot tubs, Teton Springs Spa is a perfect choice for warm winter relaxation.
Kirkham Hot Springs
Kirkham Hot Springs may be Idaho’s most well-known geothermal pool. Situated next to the South Fork Payette River near Lowman, the hot springs are only about a 45-mile drive from Boise, making it an easy day trip.
The hot springs feature numerous pools of varying temperatures, meaning that although it can often be a popular location, it’s not short of space.
A small-steaming waterfall drops into one of the hot springs, and ponderosa pines and wildflowers will provide you with that authentic Idahoan nature feel.