Snow, Serenity and Scenery in Harriman State Park
16,000 acres and 24 miles of groomed winter trails are waiting for you at Harriman State Park . Explore firsthand the pristine beauty of the Yellowstone Teton Territory and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem classic cross-country skiing , skate skiing , snowshoeing and fat biking - all are available for winter enthusiasts looking for that perfect photo of a trumpeter swan in the sunlit waters of Silver Lake or on the Henry’s Fork.
With options for beginners to advanced skate skiers and Nordic tour seekers, the continuous loops through the woods and the water’s edge make a trip to this Idaho State Park one of the most scenic experiences to be had around the Yellowstone Caldera. The park is considered a waterfowl and wildlife refuge so be sure to leave your four-legged fur children at home for this day trip.
The history of the sprawling meadows and the thick evergreen forests dates back to 1902 and the original owners, Union Pacific Railroad investors. Until 1977, the park served as a cattle ranch and private getaway for the Harriman and Guggenheim families. But trappers are who first established Island Park ’s reputation as a hunting and fishing paradise in the late 1800s which led to many prominent American families building summer homes in the area.
A visit to the Museum of the Henry’s Fork in Ashton will guide visitors through the history of trapping, trading, farming and now today’s land conservation movement. The Fremont County Historical Society also manages a number of articles online that talk about the Yellowstone Branch of the Union Pacific and the American Dog Derby —the oldest sled dog race in America.
For recreationists, a side trip into Ashton is never complete without a stop at the best root beer float to be found under the iconic frothy mug of the Frostop Drive-in , a well-known classic located right off Highway 20.
Day trips to Harriman State Park can require all sorts of gear and thankfully there is a ski and bike shop in every town throughout the Yellowstone Teton Territory to ensure you have the fat tires or skis required to get out and enjoy some of the best trails in the state. Plan your excursion ahead of time by checking out the winter trails map. A self-guided naturalist tour and winter trail challenge information are available at the park’s welcome center. Be sure to check out Harriman’s social media pages for updates on guided events which can often include stargazing and wildlife tracking.
If you’re interested in staying the night and enjoying the starry skies all to yourself—along with the elk and moose—make reservations for Cygnet and Wyethia yurts at the park. Complete with stoves and sleeping for six in each yurt, the cozy accommodations can provide the backcountry experience with all the perks of nearby parking and drinking water. Each yurt comes with cooking stoves—all you need is your travel companions, favorite foods and gear!
A great place to begin your journey for rentals and to join ski groups is in the heart of downtown Idaho Falls at Idaho Mountain Trading. For decades the family-owned business has been leading Nordic classes and is now the premiere outlet for all things fat bike-related—glove to shoe to studded tire—the shop is in the know and a hub for ski clubs and local ski patrol groups.
This month, January 25-27, Idaho Mountain Trading is helping to sponsor the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Colonial Theater . Start your winter vibe off with three nights of the best adventure films to hit the big screen this year.