What is there to do in Boise during the winter?

So, you’ve just moved to Boise and you are wondering how you can enjoy your first winter here? If you are a fan of winter activities, then you going to love Boise. We have some of the best winter fun to be had for miles. Whether you like classic activities like skiing and snowboarding, or you want to visit some intense snow sculptures, then you are in the right place. Boise has a huge variety of things to do so you definitely won’t be bored from December to February.

Let’s first talk about what the winter climate is like here in the Boise area. For starters, it is cold. However, it isn’t as cold as you might think. Most winter days will be between 20 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit depending, of course, on the year. Usually, we get our first snow in the valley during November, with light snow in December and January, and our last snowfall of the year in late February. (This is all dependent on the year). We will normally have one or two intense snow storms a season but other than that it will always be a light dusting. The climate in the mountains, however, is much different.

In the mountains, there is usually a lot of snowfall from October to March. This makes for great outdoor activities in and around the Boise National Forest, Boise and Valley counties, and just about anywhere else with a higher elevation. Some of the best places to go for knee deep snow activities are: Bogus Basin, Idaho City, Cascade and McCall, and so on and so forth.

This distinct difference in climate between Boise and the rest of the state makes for a best of both worlds situation. You can enjoy the snow in the mountains and come home to a fairly dry place that doesn’t get too cold.

Now, let’s look at some of the most anticipated, and widely popular, winter activities you can enjoy in the area.

McCall Winter Carnival

The first would have to be the famed McCall Winter Carnival. This awesome event is one that you aren’t going to go forget anytime soon. It is a week and a half to two-week long carnival that engulfs the entire town of McCall. There are winter activities, snow sculptures contests, vendors with great food, parades, and so much more. Not to mention a ton of private events and parties to enjoy. In and around McCall there are plenty of other great activities, the most popular of which would be the natural hot springs. Even in the wintertime, these warm water paradises are chock full of people looking to enjoy a break from the cold. The carnival starts in late January and goes into February.

Winter Garden Aglow

This awesome Treasure Valley Tradition is one that a lot of people look forward to. Held in the later part of November all the way through January, the Winter Garden aglow event is a local favorite. This event is held at the Idaho Botanical Gardens and all their trees and other plants are covered in thousands of lightbulbs for a fun and illuminating trip through the garden. Not to mention the awesome food, gift store, carolers, holiday train, and photo opportunities with jolly old St. Nick himself.

To get into the Winter Garden aglow at the botanical gardens, admissions are as follows: Sunday through Thursday adults pay $8, 5 to 12-year-olds pay $4, and children younger than for are free. Friday and Saturday adults are $10, 5 to 12-year-olds are $6, and children 4 years old and younger are still free. If you have a Garden Membership you can get in for $4 Sunday through Thursday and $6 Friday and Saturday.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding are mainstays of winter fun here in the Boise area. Every year people from near and far will flock to Idaho’s ski resorts to enjoy a good day on the slopes. The one that most Boiseans attend is Bogus Basin Ski Resort located just a half hour’s drive up the mountain and has some of the best night skiing in the area. However, there is also Tamarack up in Cascade (about 2 hours north) or Brundage in McCall (about 2 and a half hours). However, if these don’t float your boat you could go up to Sun Valley and ski the same mountains that housed the first ever ski lifts.

Ice skating

Another staple of winter fun would have to be ice skating. Whether you like the ice to watch or do ice hockey, figure skating, or just for fun, there is no escaping the nostalgia of a good ice rink. You can find some great ice skating here in the valley at Idaho IceWorld, the Century Link Arena (ideal for attending hockey and city league sports mostly), or the small ice rink in the middle of the Village at Meridian. It is a great way to enjoy the cold weather so be sure to look up current rates and times for these places if you are ready for a good time.

Ice fishing

Fisherman and women cannot be kept from casting out a line, even by the cold. Some of the best places to ice fish are on Cascade Lake, the Payette Lake, and other lakes that are higher up in the mountains. There are plenty of places to get the gear for ice fishing, so be sure to stop by a nearby sporting goods store and get everything you need before supplies are gone. (Be sure to get the proper licensing before you head out, also, as it is illegal to fish without a license in Idaho).


Next, there is snowmobiling. This awesome winter sport is one that a lot of people enjoy up in the snowy backcountry of Idaho. The gear can be expensive and the activity itself dangerous, but it is a whole lot of fun if you get past that. There are many places to go snowmobiling around Boise so be sure to do your research on where would be best and where it is legal to do in the first place.

Boise, Idaho is a veritable winter paradise. Whether you like the holiday lights of the Winter Garden Aglow, the Winter Carnival, or just tromping around the snowy mountains you are going to have fun. If you want to know more about Boise, how to buy a home here, or where to have some fun while you are here, contact the Hughes Group today. Our licensed real estate agents are here to help you find your place in this wonderful city we call home.

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