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Banner Ridge Yurt

Skiing Opportunities in Idaho
Numerous state parks, US Forests, municipalities and private ski operators in Idaho provide cross-country skiing opportunities. This guide describes the cross-country ski areas offered by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation through the Park N' Ski program and Idaho's state parks.


Idaho City Area   Island Park Area
Banner Ridge   Bear Gulch/Mesa Falls
Gold Fork   Brimstone/Buffalo River
Whoop-Um-Up   Fall River Ridge
Maps   Harriman
State Park Areas   Other Areas
Farragut   Elk River
Round Lake   Palouse Divide
Priest Lake   Fourth of July Pass
Winchester   Mink Creek
Harriman   Fish Creek Meadows
Ponderosa Maps
Safety Tips   Equipment List
Etiquette   Maps

Park N' Ski Permit Info

Park N' Ski permits have financed much of the cross-country skiing development in Idaho during the past several years. Purchasing a pass provides a funding source for ski clubs and agencies interested in maintaining and developing cross-country skiing facilities.

When you purchase a $20 annual permit, or a 3-day temporary permit for $7.50, the money is dedicated by law to be used exclusively for improving cross-country skiing opportunities. As such, the program has been widely supported by Nordic skiers statewide. When skiers purchase a permit, they are asked to designate a specific Park N' Ski area they would like to see improved. This gives skiers greater control over how and where the funds are spent.

You must display your Park N' Ski annual decal on the front driver's side of your vehicle window (or your temporary hang tag on the interior rearview mirror) to park in the designated Park N' Ski areas to avoid citations or fines.

Services offered by skiers vary from year to year depending on volunteer support, donations and revenue generated through the sale of Park N' Ski permits. Poor snow years often translate into low income, thus reduced services.

The Park N' Ski areas listed are cooperative projects between ski clubs, local and federal agencies, and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Many of these trails would not exist without the efforts of volunteers. If there is a ski area you would like developed, or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0065, (208) 334-4180 ext.228.


You can view, download or print location maps of the Park N' Ski areas  using Adobe Acrobat Reader by clicking on the links below. If you need to download a free copy of Acrobat Reader click here.

For a statewide locator map, click here.

Idaho City Area Map

Jackson Peak Snow Depth, Mores Creek Snow Depth

Banner Ridge
The 22 miles of marked trails at Banner Ridge are located on State Highway 21, 23.5 miles north of Idaho City. While various trails are suitable for intermediate to expert skiers, the area's greatest attraction is the view from the ridge top and open bowls for off-trail skiing. A plowed parking area and restrooms are available, and the trails are groomed weekly to 10 feet wide for traditional and skate skiing. Two, fully stocked, 20-foot diameter
yurts are available for rent through the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

Gold Fork
Generally, the 21.4 miles of trails at Gold Fork are a little easier than those at Banner Ridge. A practiced beginner would be comfortable with much of this trail system. However, steep downhill runs will challenge the experts. Gold Fork is located on State Highway 21, 20 miles north of Idaho City. There is a plowed parking area and a restroom, and the trails are groomed weekly to 10 feet wide for traditional and skate skiing. One, fully stocked, 20-foot diameter
yurt is available for rent through the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

Whoop-Um-Up is located 18 miles north of Idaho City on State Highway 21. Some sections of this 6.6-mile trail are complex, particularly the downhill sections of the creek trail, which are relatively challenging and require advanced skiing skills. Other areas are suitable for beginner to intermediate skiers. A restroom and plowed parking area is shared with snowmobilers. The trails are marked but not groomed.

Fish Creek Meadows Map
This ski area is located 9 miles south of Grangeville on Forest Service Road 221. The trail is designed for beginner and intermediate skiers, traversing heavily timbered areas and open meadows. Many good play areas are available for the adventurous skier. The views of Gospel Hump Wilderness Area and Seven Devils Mountains are exceptional, and there is a warming hut. Nearly 12 miles are marked.

Ponderosa State Park Map
Ponderosa State Park is located 2 miles northeast of McCall on a peninsula that juts into Payette Lake. There are approximately 11 miles of regularly groomed trails, which provide opportunities for all levels of skiing ability. The terrain is forested with rolling hills and some ridge tops that offer spectacular views of Payette Lake. A heated restroom/visitor center and a large, plowed parking lot are available. The $3 park-entrance fee is waived if you have a Park N' Ski pass on your vehicle.

Elk River Map
This area offers good skiing for beginning and intermediate skiers on 24 miles of groomed trails. It is located 20 miles east of Bovill on Highway 8 adjacent to the community of Elk River. Most of the trail passes through dense forest and an occasional meadow. A popular stop on the trail is scenic Elk Creek Falls.

Palouse Divide Map
Most of the 18 miles of trail are rated for beginners, but a few require intermediate skills. Located on State Scenic Highway 6, it is 23 miles east of Potlatch. There are two plowed parking lots, one along Highway 6 and one at the North/South Ski Bowl Alpine Ski. Of the 18 miles of trail, nearly 12 miles are periodically groomed when weather conditions permit.

Fourth of July Pass Map
The trailhead is located 18 miles east of Coeur d'Alene. The system consists of three loop trails that wind through beautiful cedar and other coniferous trees, and the Coeur d'Alene mountains can be seen in the distance. Except for some short, steep sections recommended only for intermediate to advanced skiers, these trails are suitable for beginners. A vault toilet is available at the large plowed parking lot, and there is a warming hut along the trail. The 12 miles of trail are groomed when funding and weather conditions permit.

Mink Creek Map
This area is located 15 miles south of Pocatello on Bannock Highway. The area consists of five plowed parking areas and five cross- country ski trails suitable for the practiced beginner and intermediate skier. Expansive areas for off-trail skiing are available because only the draws are heavily timbered. There are 15 miles of marked trail, 5 of which are periodically groomed when funding and weather conditions permit.


Island Park Area Map

Four Park N' Ski areas are located in Island Park. If you are planning to ski them, consider staying overnight at Harriman State Park in the dormitory or the Ranch Manager's House.

Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park is located 20 miles north of Ashton on Highway 20. There is a total of 21 miles of trails, and 10 of those are groomed, providing opportunities for all levels of skiing. Harriman is a wintering ground for the majestic trumpeter swan and is home to many other animals. A warming shelter and restrooms are provided at the trailhead. The $3 entrance fee is waived if you have a Park N' Ski permit on your vehicle.

Fall River Ridge
The Fall River Ridge Park N' Ski area is located 10 miles east of Ashton on the Cave Falls Road. The various loops are suitable for beginner and intermediate use. The terrain consists of rolling hills dotted with meadows, and stands of lodgepole pine and aspen trees. A small plowed parking area is provided and is shared by snowmobilers and skiers. They also share one mile of trail. Nearly seven miles of trails make up this area, which is groomed periodically when funding and weather conditions permit.

Bear Gulch/Mesa Falls
This ski area is located seven miles northeast of Ashton on Mesa Falls Forest Highway 47. The trail parallels the snowmobile trail out to the spectacular Lower and Upper Mesa Falls. The trail then branches away from the snowmobile trail and travels along the canyon rim, then returns to the trailhead. This trail is recommended for intermediate and advanced skiers because of the steep climb in the first mile. The trail is nearly nine miles long and is groomed periodically when funding and weather conditions permit.

Brimstone/Buffalo River
The Brimstone trail is located one-quarter mile north of the Island Park Ranger Station on Highway 20 near Ponds Lodge Resort. The terrain varies from gentle grades to downhill runs through tree groves. The nine miles of trail offer scenic views of the Island Park Reservoir, Box Canyon, and Buffalo River. The trail provides opportunities for all levels of skiing ability. The Buffalo River trail is 2.6 miles long, starting at the Island Park Ranger Station and winding along the Buffalo River through forests of lodgepole pine. The trail's gentle grade provides an excellent opportunity for beginners to polish their skills. Both trails are groomed periodically when funding and weather conditions permit.


State Park Areas

In addition to Ponderosa and Harriman State Parks, four other state parks have cross-country ski trails. Many of the trails are groomed regularly and provide amenities such as warming shelters and restrooms. A $3 per-day vehicle entrance fee or an annual vehicle park entrance permit is required to enter the park and use the facilities.

Farragut State Park Map
Located 25 miles northeast of Coeur d'Alene and four miles east of Athol on Highway 95, the park provides 7.5 miles of groomed ski trails which have been designed to offer excellent opportunities for beginner and intermediate skiers and to provide outstanding views of the park and mountains surrounding Lake Pend Oreille. Snow conditions vary due to the low elevation of the park. A picnic shelter, restrooms and a plowed parking area are provided.

Round Lake State Park Map
The trails in this park are great for beginner and intermediate skiers. The three-mile trail generally follows the forested shoreline of the lake. The trail is groomed when weather conditions permit. Vault toilets, an ice skating area and a plowed parking area are provided. Round Lake State Park is located 10 miles south of Sandpoint just off US Highway 95.

Priest Lake State Park Map
The Indian Creek Unit of this state park is 33 miles north of the community of Priest River on the east shore of scenic Priest Lake. A plowed parking lot and vault toilets service the 12 miles of groomed trails. The Soaring Eagle trail provides scenic views of the lake and is rated for skiers who have intermediate to advanced ability. The Old Flume loop offers beautiful scenery and is rated for beginners and intermediate skiers.

Winchester Lake State Park Map
Approximately 2.5 miles of groomed trails run through flat and rolling terrain .
Excellent for beginner and intermediate skiers; A one-mile marked but ungroomed section of the trail challenges intermediate and advanced skiers. The trail offers beautiful views of the forested park and shimmering lake. The park is located one-half mile south of the town of Winchester on the shore of Winchester Lake.

Safety Tips

  • Bring the equipment noted on the checklist.
  • Wear pile, wool or polypropylene clothing to keep you warm, dry and comfortable.
  • Avoid danger by skiing in areas you are capable of skiing safely.
  • Do not ski alone. Plan your trip according to the weakest skier's ability.
  • Stay tuned to local weather forecasts.
  • Avoid avalanche areas.
  • Tell someone where you plan to go and when you expect to return.

Recommended Equipment List

  • Map and compass
  • Water
  • Waterproof matches
  • Candle/fire starter
  • High-energy food
  • Small flashlight with extra bulb/batteries
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • First aid kit
  • Lightweight plastic tarp
  • Nylon cord
  • Wax kit (if using waxable skis)
  • Gloves, hat, gaiters, and extra clothing
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Camera and film
  • Safety tips

Please remember you are responsible for injury to yourself or other persons and for damage to property that results from the inherent risks of your sport, including but not limited to variations in weather, terrain, surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions, avalanches, poor visibility, bare spots, rocks, trees, other forms of forest growth or debris, and wildlife.

Leo Hennessy
Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0065-0065

Phone: 208-334-4180 ext.228

Parks / Recreation / About Us

PO Box 83720 • Boise, ID 83720-0065 • 208-334-4199 • Questions? Ask Rick