By Josie Brownell

With shorter days, colder temperatures, and more unpredictable weather, it can be hard to stay active and spend much time outside during the winter. This year has brought massive amounts of snow, more than we’ve seen in years (easy to notice by the shoveling we’ve all been doing!)

The Big Wood River on the first day of the new year. Photo by Lois Ukropina.

The Big Wood River on the first day of the new year. Photo by Lois Ukropina.

But, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy our beautiful valley when it’s covered in a blanket of white. Even though the snow can present a bit of a challenge, winter is one of the best times to see wildlife in their natural habitat and appreciate our surroundings.

Here are some tips and tricks for exploring in the snow:

  • Backcountry Skiing: For those interested in strapping on their alpine skis and getting after it in the backyard or amongst the big peaks, backcountry skiing is a fun option that combines a solid workout with some sweet powder turns. Some of our favorite spots for taking turns away from the crowds are Rock Creek Ranch and Greenhorn Gulch.
  • Nordic Skiing: On those brutally cold days, get your blood pumping on your Nordic skis. A few of our staff members sneak out of the office during lunch to ski on the Wood River Trail, the groomed bike path that runs from Bellevue up to Ketchum and Sun Valley. For bigger adventures, Rock Creek Ranch is also a fun option. There are groomed trails out there – learn more on our website.
  • Rock Creek Road by Catherine Chanel.

    Rock Creek Road by Catherine Chanel.

    Snowshoeing: For a winter hike that will keep you from post-holing, try snowshoeing. Our staff has put a “snowshoe staff meeting” on the calendar for the next couple weeks. We plan on exploring our newly acquired property – Colorado Gulch. We’ll stomp down a path for you! To make it a longer trip, start at the Draper Wood River Preserve and walk through the cottonwoods and along the Big Wood River to continue in to Colorado Gulch.

  • Fishing: Fishing doesn’t have to just be a fair weather activity. Layer up, bring a thermos, and hit the Big Wood. Our Community Engagement Coordinator, Mike, has set a goal to fish every month of the year. You can often find him in his backyard, the Draper Wood River Preserve, just west of downtown Hailey. The fish are still active, so grab your rod and head to the water – you might even see some of the moose that have been hanging out in and around Draper this winter!
Mike's son Sam enjoying fishing on Deer Creek. Photo by Mike McKenna.

Mike’s son Sam enjoying fishing on Deer Creek.

Getting outside in the winter does bring risks. Be aware of potential avalanches and snow conditions when traveling out onto open slopes. When venturing down to the river, look out for ice dams and flooding – a big consideration with the winter we’re having. And, always tell someone where you’re going and when you plan on returning.

Whether you’re with your friends, family, pets, or alone, spending time outside at any time of year is what makes the Wood River Valley so special.