One of my favorite things to do here in the winter is...
Idaho Falls Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
Go to dinner at a small dinner theatre called Mountain River Ranch (http://www.mountainriverranch.com/map.html) - it is truly a winter wonderland as you are taken on a horse-drawn sleigh ride down a narrow lane through the woods with the sound of Christmas carols sung by your dinner guests (and yourself!) and the trail is lit with tiny twinkling lights and the bells on the horses' harnesses are jingling along as they glide with ease across the snow-covered ground. It is one of the most romantic evenings you can spend and has just the right atmosphere to put you back in the Christmas spirit! Once inside the theatre (read: barn), you sing for your dinner - and TIP: Sing at the top of your lungs and sit at the table with the largest group and you are guaranteed to be first through the buffet-style "chow line" - don't worry, the prime rib is THE BEST I have tasted outside of Las Vegas! I highly recommend it! My property is located across the river from this magical place and I once knew the owners very well.
Unfortunately, I don't have any winter photos of the sleigh ride, but now that know I have a place to put them, I will try to take some so I can add them later this winter...
MAKE RESERVATIONS EARLY (1.5 months in advance for Winter events) because they fill up FAST! Be prepared to sit like sardines on picnic-table-style dinner tables, but at least you will be the FIRST group to get your 'grub' (food), if you want to look on the bright side :) And tell them Leilani sent you if you get a chance to talk to the owners (they are usually there serving and entertaining and driving the sleighs).
There is so much to do in the winter for those who seek snow... You know, the white, powdery stuff that falls from the sky when it's cold and dry, causing the rain to flatten out into crystals... each one unique from all the others??? If you haven't seen it, you must experience a snowflake on your tongue at least once in your lifetime! And a glass of wine by the fireplace while the big, white flakes are falling softly to the ground outside is a magical place to be on a cold night! For those non-alcoholics out there, homemade hot cocoa is pretty tasty too... come to my house for the best in the West! (Homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast before making a snowman is always a must!)
For those who care, Alpine skiing (that means you ride to the top of the mountain on a bench seat suspended from a cable and jump off at the last minute before it sweeps you back down the wrong way.
You can also use a snowboard to get you down the mountain.
For those who prefer a workout while enjoying the snow, you have two other alternatives:
Cross-country skiing which requires either a groomed trail or permission from one of those potato farmers so you can travel great distances on two skis. Make sure you have a compass or a map on a well-marked trail because you can get so excited about how "in touch with nature" you have suddenly become (due to the quiet and peaceful setting you must have in order to enjoy this sport) that it's easy to forget to pay attention to your surroundings and just how far you have traveled.
Second choice - and a preferred method of mine, personally, is to snow-shoe your way through the woods. You strap on a pair of aluminum flat things to the bottom of your snow boots and it holds you up, so you can step gingerly (okay, not so gingerly when you are a beginner) across the surface of the snow. You will also need a compass for this activity or to be familiar with your trails. It's another easy way to get lost. You are one with the nature and you can lose track of all time and dimensions - you can truly be transported into a different place and time! You also must use caution since there are mountain lions (cougars) and bears in our "neck of the woods" - chances are, you won't run into any of them because you will have done your homework ahead of time and found out which areas are safe to roam through.
Lastly, the sport I personally detest the most is Snowmobiling. For those of you used to warmer areas of the planet and have an abundance of water, it is like a jetski that runs on snow instead of large bodies of water. In defense, I have ridden them several times. They are a lot of fun, especially if you are like me and LOVE to go FAST! These babies can get up to over 100 miles an hour! And yes, I've got mine up that fast. No, you won't get a speeding ticket but you could kill yourself when you crash! You cannot drive them on the roads, so you must, once again, ask permission from Mr. Potato Farmer (see, your veggies pay off BIG TIME!) if you can ride on his HUGE farm ground. Ask! Don't just assume it's okay to drive wherever you want to go. Many try and just piss off the farmer so he puts up big fences to keep everyone out FOREVER! Trust me, as a land owner, I always appreciate when people ask me for permission than when I have to call the police to have the trespassers removed. Finding a groomed trail is the best way to enjoy this sport but at the end of winter, these trails are so rough, you will need to buy dentures to replace all your teeth that have been chipped from the jolting!!! Snowmobiles can also break down, leaving you stranded out in the middle of nowhere! A scary thing for someone not familiar with the area and it gets VERY COLD when the sun decides to go down at night and it's a LONG walk back to the car when you've been riding at top speeds of 70 to 80mph for two hours!!!
You can also rent snowmobiles in West Yellowstone (Wyo.) and ride them through Yellowstone Park in the winter. An amazing, probably "once-in-a-lifetime" experience for most. And because of environmental concerns and people (tourists and locals alike) abusing their privledges, this concept in sports may be banned permanently in the near future. Obey the speed limits in the park. Ride with two passengers on your snowmobile whenever possible to cut down on the amount of pollution when you don't "carpool" through the park, and limit yourself to once a year, not every weekend like most do. The noise and the consumption of gasoline is another reason this is my least favorite way to enjoy snow. It also stresses the animals around you because they can hear you coming from 10 miles away!!! They were enjoying the small patch of grass or berries they were able to find in the 5 feet of snow covering the ground and are forced to run from the sound of you coming toward them at top speed, using up precious energy they should be conserving to make it through the rest of the harsh winters and the nights that dip below minus 10 degrees F. on a consistent basis, as the freezing wind beats against their thin fur coats, making it unbearable for them and some perish because they cannot tolerate it any longer.
As for me, I am glad to see the sun come out, melting the snow and breathing life back into the trees and flowers around me.... but the mountains that shelter the valley I live in are at their most majestic when covered in snow and the sun is kissing them with her warm lips...