Big Hole Winter Fun

With their rugged ridgelines, the Big Hole Mountains make up some of the most stunning vistas in Idaho and offer miles and miles of winter fun. From snowmobiling , Nordic and alpine skiing , hot springs and fishing , the westernmost peaks of the Greater Yellowstone Rockies are not just quintessential recreation—they’re as accessible as it gets: land in Idaho Falls at Idaho Falls Regional Airport and within the hour you have arrived in one of winter’s favorite wonderlands in the Yellowstone Teton Territory .

With night skiing available and just a quick drive from Idaho Falls, skiing the best of the Big Holes is affordable and a heck of a lot of fun for the whole family at Kelly Canyon Ski Resort . Enjoy the new terrain park features with this past week’s fresh foot of powder—and there’s more on the way—or try something new and book a lesson for the littles and the bigs who are just starting to get a taste of what it means to be on piste. The Ririe ski resort features four chair lifts and two surface lifts with 1000 feet of vertical and twenty-six trails across the resort’s 740 all-Idaho acres.  

Lesson packs include three lessons at the low cost of $149—there’s no better deal to be found in the Rockies. No picnic lunch required: Kelly Canyon’s slow-smoked Southern-style BBQ is served up daily with sides of loaded macaroni cheese—no one goes hungry at the Blackhawk BBQ Pit. 

Stay in Ririe at one of the Heise cabins and take advantage of free ski passes and rental equipment—and be steps away from Heise Hot Springs for the best après around with a mineral hot pools and hands down the best pizza parlor in the Big Holes. 

The Kelly cabins are on the South Fork of the Snake River with some of the most picturesque Idaho views one can experience. The Ranch House and The Cottage offer accommodations that come with four bedrooms and kitchens making them great travel choices for a family excursion, bachelor or bachelorette party or just a group of friends hoping to enjoy one another from sunrise to sunset in a family setting complete with a wood fire stove and without the complications of reservations. 

Make an entire weekend of the west side of the Big Holes and take advantage of the 400 miles of groomed snowmobiling track to be enjoyed in Swan Valley . It takes no time to get into the hills with the easy access points from Fall Creek on the west end of the valley and the Palisades Dam access on the east end. Enjoy vistas of the Snake River mountains, trumpeter swans, elk, whitetail, mule deer and a host of raptors all winter long including osprey and bald eagles. To check on the trail conditions, call Bonneville County Parks and Recreation at 208-538-7285.

For a little less rev and engine, make a stop at the Hansen Guest Ranch for sleigh rides, campfires accompanied with smores, and a year round bed and breakfast experience. The ranch is a great way to experience everything that makes Idaho unforgettable in the winter, snow-filled solitude under bluebird skies. Enjoy snowshoeing and Nordic skiing right on the property or enjoy the nearby trails. A short drive up Pine Creek Pass will give you views of Tetons and Teton Valley or take you further into the Big Holes. The guest ranch is about thirty minutes from Kelly Canyon Ski Area and an hour’s drive to Grand Targhee Resort