North Idaho has the snow and terrain to create a snowmobile paradise. Snowmobiling is one of the area’s fastest growing sports. Because St. Maries is located in the Bitter Root Mountains, ski areas and snowmobiling opportunities are plentiful. In winter months snowmobiling enthusiasts delight in miles of groomed trails and good snow. There are over 600 acres available just outside St. Maries for snowmobiling. Xmas Hills Recreation area is located approximately 2 miles east of St. Maries; it has a warming hut, restrooms and unloading docks. Potlatch Corp recreation permits are not required to ride at Xmas Hills Recreation area. In surrounding Benewah and Shoshone counties, the miles and miles of trails are endless for snowmobiling. A history of timber and mining has left an extensive network of trails through the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. http://www.idahowinter.org.
Snowmobiling regulations and trail maps are available from U.S. Forest Service offices throughout the region. With the eminent success of snowmobiling projects throughout North Idaho, here’s a recommendation: Make plans for your visit before the rest of the world gets here!
North Idaho gives winter sport enthusiasts every opportunity to experience Idaho’s winter beauty at developed ski resorts and a network of groomed trails. Downhill skiers and boarders can challenge Idaho’s legendary powder at Silver Mountain (home of the world’s longest single stage gondola) in Kellogg. Silver Mountain added a tubing hill in 2006 that’s popular with the whole family.
Lookout Pass Ski Area (the best learning hill in the Northwest and a phenomenal value for beginners) is on the Montana-Idaho border near Wallace. It’s a sack lunch style and home-town hospitality that make this the local area family favorite.
Cross country skiing is a great way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors at a leisurely pace. A wide variety of terrain awaits. A catalog of Nordic trails is available from the Idaho State Department of Parks & Recreation. Call 208-769-1511 or http://www.idahoparks.org. The Park N’ Ski Pass is $25 (plus tax) and allows you to park and ski at 11 back country sites across the state. Passes can be purchased at regional offices of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as most cross country ski shops statewide.
Strapping on a pair of snow shoes and making first tracks in fresh snow on a sunny winter day is as good as it gets for North Idaho outdoor recreation. The winter wonderland scenery around St. Maries makes your snow shoe experience worth your while. Don’t forget to bring a camera! Depending upon snow conditions, accessibility may be limited to the back country areas.
RIVER AND STREAMS: The Winter Stream Season will allow die-hard anglers to continue to catch-and-release trout through March 31 and harvest whitefish and brook trout. The list of rivers open during the winter include the Clark Fork River below the RR bridge, North Fork, Little North Fork and mainstream Coeur d’Alene rivers, St. Joe River, St. Maries River and the Moyie River.
COEUR D’ALENE LAKE: Winter can be a great time to fish for smaller Chinook. Winter anglers typically use glow flashers and mini squids on a relatively long leader. The fish are usually below 60 feet where the water temperature is slightly warmer once the lake reaches winter stratification.
Ice Fishing: Sustained temperatures below the freezing mark are required to create ice that’s thick and safe enough for ice fishing on local lakes. Many of the smaller lakes in the area do freeze over most every winter.
For over thirty-five years the US Pacific Coast Championship Sled Dog Race has been held at Priest Lake. Each year 75 to 100 teams from around the country and as far away as Alaska and Canada gather on the west side of the lake for the competition.
509-447-5744 or http://www.InlandEmpireSledDogAssociation.itgo.com