A quiet and laid-back winter vacation, that’s also affordable and authentic? Yes please! Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory offers travelers adventure, rest and rejuvenation that won’t rob their wallets. From skiing the slopes of Kelly Canyon to a low-key ski tour to Upper Mesa Falls, adventures come in every size. This 3-day loop is recommended for travelers venturing from Idaho Falls, but can be easily modified for any vacation.
There is a range of accommodation options in the towns scattered throughout Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory. From quaint bed and breakfasts and inns, to luxurious lodges and chain hotels–there are offerings for every budget and taste.
The restaurants throughout Eastern Idaho really showcase their local flair. I was quite impressed with the quality of food and diversity of options. From the flavorful pies served up at the Heise Pizza Parlor, to the authentic and flavorful servings at Chiang Mai Thai in Victor, never a dull flavor on this road trip!
Activities – First Day
Hit the slopes
Finally, a ski resort where lift tickets cost less than $50! Kelly Canyon Ski Resort not only offers affordable tickets, but also 51 ski runs lit until 9:30pm. Mountain runs suit all skill levels with a terrain park for those working on their flips and tricks. Note: the resort is closed on Sundays.
For travelers who prefer two wheels over 2 skis, try fat biking at Kelly Canyon! The expansive trail system welcomes bikers for a slight fee, and even rent bikes for those traveling without their own.
…or sled down the slopes
Rent a tube and ride the tow lift at 7N Ranch in Ririe. This approachable hill is great fun for all ages!
Soak in the springs
Only 7 minutes down the road from the ski resort is Heise Hot Springs–the perfect place to relax after an adventurous day in the snow. Also located on the Heise compound is the Heise Pizza Parlor–a favorite place for locals and travelers alike.
Activities – Second Day
Venture to Victor
The hour drive between Ririe and Victor, Idaho offers some of the most scenic views in the state. Along the way, take the worthy detour to Fall Creek Falls, a picturesque 60′ cascade plummeting into the Snake River. The ice formations on the falls in the winter are spectacular!
Once you land in Victor, check into your accommodation for the evening, as this little town packs in a lot of great traveler amenities. There is an array of bed and breakfast style inns to choose from, and several tasty restaurants also.
Cross-country/skate skiing in Teton Canyon, typically a lot of snowfall (keep your skis on!). Fat biking is another fun option in the area!
The breathtaking 40 minute drive between Victor, Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming ventures over Teton Pass. Though the highway stays open year-round, it’s not uncommon to see snow drifts taller than vehicles on the side of the road. Just beyond the town of Jackson, sits the National Elk Refuge. Winter is actually the best time of year for wildlife viewing in the refuge, and there are multiple roads–each with unique vantage points. Another popular and festive way to enjoy the refuge is from the comfort of a sleigh.
In the evening, swing by the Knotty Pine to mingle with the locals and enjoy a range of music–from regional acts to major shows. For a more unique activity, give axe-throwing a whirl at West Side Yard (21+ crowd only).
Activities – Third Day
Get outside in Island Park
Some of the best powder and groomed trails for snowmobiling in the state lie in Island Park, about an hour north of Victor. There is no shortage of scenic landscapes along the way, and hundreds of miles of backcountry to explore! Our pick of trails is the Two Top Mountain and Meadow Creek Loop for its ease of access and dramatic mountain views. Choose from one of the outfitters in the area, offering machine rentals, guides and complete tours.
Since you’re already playing in the Island Park area, make sure you swing by the Lakeside Lodge in the evening to view their spectacular holiday lights display!
…or get outside in Caribou-Targhee National Forest
Within Caribou-Targhee National Forest, there’s a huge range of winter activities: from snowmobiling to snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or even fat biking. There is an ample selection of trails available for all modes of recreation. One of the most scenic destinations in the area is Upper Mesa Falls. While this place is bustling during the summer months, the main road closes in the wintertime with fewer people actually making it all the way to the falls. Snowmobiles, nordic skiers, and fat-bikers can have an adventure heading out to the falls, which still rumble under all of the ice throughout the winter. Check the Mesa Falls Visitor’s Center hours, and enjoy some warming hot cocoa while they’re open.
This article was created in partnership with Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory. All photos provided by Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory.