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Idaho State News

Upcoming Winter Events with Idaho Parks and Recreation


IDAHO (December 15, 2023) – Winter weather arrived (mostly!) and there are lots of upcoming outdoor events to celebrate the new year! Several Idaho State Parks are hosting a First Day Hikes (Jan 1) event as well as the annual Free Ski/Winter Access Day (Jan 6). A full list of events can be found below. Some details are still being arranged, please contact the parks directly for latest and more up-to-date information.

First Day Hikes (January 1, 2024):

  • Three Island Crossing State ParkGlenns Ferry, Idaho. Come on out to the park on New Years Day and join us for the first day hike of the year! Ranger John will be leading a short History based hike and Ranger Tyler will lead a short Nature hike! Sign in at the Oregon Trail and History Center beginning at 12:00 noon. Either join in on a Ranger led hike or explore on your own. Cookies and Hot Chocolate at the History Center awaits you after your adventure! A great family event for all ages!
  • Hells Gate State ParkLewiston, Idaho. Hells Gate state park brings back First Day Hikes on Saturday January 1, 2024. Come enjoy a family event, hiking the wonderful trails offered at Hells Gate State Park from 10:00am – 1:00pm. This year the hikes will be unguided; Hikers are encouraged to explore any of our 12 plus miles of trails. Hikers will need to check in at the discovery center. Free chili and hot drinks will be available upon return to the Discovery Center.
  • Harriman State ParkIsland Park, Idaho. Experience the natural beauty of Harriman State Park. Rental snowshoes available on site; call Park for local ski rental information. Phone: (208) 558-7368
  • Lucky Peak State ParkBoise, Idaho. First Day Hikes on Saturday January 1, 2024. Come enjoy a family event, meandering along the greenbelt at Sandy Point Unit of Lucky Peak State Park from 10:00am – 1:00pm. We will have self-guided activity hikes pertaining to animal tracks, birding, and the solar system. Experience Idaho Loaner Backpacks that include binoculars will also be available for free checkout. Hikers will need to check in at the Sandy Point State Park Office to pick up guides and backpacks. Free hot chocolate will also be available at the park office. *Sandy Point State Park office is located at the base of the Lucky Peak Dam, under the letter “N”. First 25 hikers will receive a commemorative giveaway item!
  • Heyburn State ParkPlummer, Idaho. Explore the trails at Heyburn State Park! Please call the park for details. Phone: (208) 686-1308


Free Ski/Winter Access Day (January 6, 2024):

Note: Formally known as Free Ski Day, now being rebranded to Free Winter Access Day. This does not apply to downhill ski areas, only to the Idaho Park N Ski locations and various state parks.

**There is one exception in 2024: Free Winter Access Day will not apply to the Palouse Divide Park N Ski area. They will be hosting their Free Winter Access Day on January 13, 2024.

  • No permits needed at the Idaho Park N’ Ski locations across the state, with the exception of the Palouse Divide area.
  • Priest Lake State ParkCoolin, Idaho. Free cross-country ski lessons as well as a guided snowshoe hike and more! Skiing, snowshoeing, getting a massage, adopting a dog, drinking coffee, making smores, just a regular day at the park! 10 am – 2 pm at the Indian Creek Unit. For more information call 208-443-2200.
  • Ponderosa State ParkMcCall, Idaho. Entrance is free to the public and winter access fees are waived on Free Ski Day- Saturday, January 6, 2024. Pre-registration is required to participate in the free lesson and rental package portion of the event. Lessons and rental packages are offered in cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the following times. Rentals are returned at the end of the lesson. Please register for the rental and lesson packages through our Eventbrite link here. The link can also be found on our Facebook and Website. All lessons and tours start at the Activity Center! Registration for lessons closes on Jan 5th at 3 PM.
  • Harriman State ParkIsland Park, Idaho. Free Winter Access Day: Sat. Jan 6th 10 am to 3pm. The Park will be waiving vehicle entrance fees and winter access fees for the whole day. Additional free activities available! See Facebook page for additional information.
  • Castle Rocks State ParkAlmo, Idaho. Free winter access day at Castle Rocks State Park on January 6th from 10am-12pm. We’ll have a guided hike or Snowshoe hike (dependent on snow) on the Backyard Boulders trail with a hot beverage after. Meet at the Visitor Center at 9:30am. Bring your own snowshoes or rent from the Visitor Center)

Additional Upcoming Winter Events:

  • Lucky Peak State Park. December 17, 2023. Fresh Greenery Wreath Workshop!
    Is your door in need of some holiday cheer? Come make a fresh greenery wreath with us on Sunday, December 17th at 1 PM! We are hosting a $10 wreath workshop inside our office/shop at Sandy Point. Send us an email at [email protected] or call our office (208) 334-2432 to hold your spot for the workshop. We will be providing pinecones, branded tree cookies, and ribbon for decoration. We will also provide gloves for handling the needles, however you are free to bring your own. Most importantly, there will be hot cocoa and popcorn! This is a limited class so reach out as soon as possible if you are interested!