Mo’s Top Cross-Country Ski Areas

Maureen Finnerty

Cross-Country Trip Director

Cross-Country skiing is an affordable and fun winter activity for all ages.  You can purchase reasonably priced ski packages or rent skis locally. If you’re just getting into cross-country skiing or are new to the area, here are my recommendations for great Nordic areas within about 1.5 hours of Idaho Falls. These are areas that groom or “set track,” which includes classic (diagonal stride) and often skate track, which means you can go FAST! Of course, if you just want to get out and plod around on your skis, you can go anywhere there is snow… one of the great advantages of cross-country skiing. Below are my top picks.. going from nearest to farthest from Idaho Falls.

Freeman Park & Tautphaus Park in Idaho Falls

The folks at Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation have been doing a great job setting track with a ginzu groomer in these parks for years… when there is decent snow. Some years are great; some not so much. If there is decent snow in town and you only have a couple hours to get out, check them out… It’s free! Go to www.idahofallsidaho.gov/572/Winter-Outdoor-Recreation

Kelly Canyon - Caribou Targhee National Forest
There is great free skiing/snowshoeing on your public lands, up Forest Road 218 just beyond Kelly Canyon Resort. IFSC and the US Forest Service collaborate on weekly grooming (classic and skate) on several trails. There are two warming huts on these Forest Service roads at Morgan Summit and Kelly Mountain. Kelly Mountain Warming Hut can be booked online for overnight stays. There is a designated area below the Kelly Resort parking lot that is free for day and over-night use.  Please note there are NO dogs allowed on these Forest Service trails. This free, groomed skiing on your public lands is compliments of USFS Palisades Ranger District and IFSC.

Go toKelly Canyon Forrest Service Ski Trails

Kelly Canyon Ski Resort

Kelly Canyon Ski Resort welcomes cross-country, fat biking, and snowshoeing enthusiasts to its expanding trail system known as the SHRED TRAILS!  The Shred Trails are currently 12 miles of groomed uphill-downhill terrain including beautiful forest seclusion and spectacular vistas that can be accessed starting at the lodge or by riding Lift 4 to the top of the mountain.  It usually takes a couple of weeks after the Kelly Canyon Ski Resort opens before trails are firm enough to accommodate fat bikes. There is a fee for using these Shred Trails.  Go to www.skikellycanyon.com/shred-trails.

Teton Lakes Golf Course, Rexburg

30-min north of Idaho Falls, Teton Lakes provides both skate and
classic loops that are fun, well groomed, and conveniently located. Doug keeps the place buffed-out, and the snow there is often good when Idaho Falls snowfall is not. Check it out! Free! Go to www.rexburgski.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

Pocatello (East Fork Mink Creek Nordic Center)

Located about 7miles from Pocatello, the East Fork Mink Creek
Nordic Center is operated by the City of Pocatello along with the
Caribou-Targhee National Forest and volunteers from the Pocatello Cross-Country Ski Foundation (PXCSF). Operated under a special use permit through the USFS, it hosts approximately 20k of groomed skate and classic ski trails, as well as separate snowshoe trails and a sledding hill. These folks groom like crazy, run ski classes, races, potlucks, you name it. $4-$9/day depending on age. Go to www.pocatello.us/313/East-Fork-Mink-Creek-Nordic-Center   and   www.pokyxc.org/trail-conditions

Teton Valley (Victor-Driggs Area)

This is one of my favorite places to go. The Teton Valley Trails and
Pathways (TVTAP) organization and the USFS Teton Basin Ranger District have gone nuts over the last10 years developing a truly world-class Nordic ski region.  Checkout all the cool areas they groom and all the activities they sponsor. Best snow/track in the country! Free, but support the cause with a $10/day, $75/season and $25/dog pass TVTAP donation! Go to www.tvtap.org

Harriman State Park

Harriman has historically been one of the most beautiful areas in
the West to cross-country ski, especially if you like swans. They get dumped on a lot between grooming so you might want to call before heading up with just your skate skis. $5 parking fee (or Idaho Parks sticker) plus $5 winter access fee (to support their grooming). Go to www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/harriman

Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Ashton Island Park Ranger District

Our great public land managers at the US Forest Service groom
several areas throughout the Ashton, Island Park area. Great snow and superb vistas. My favorite is Canyon Rim, Bear Gulch, and Mesa Falls (Lower and Upper). Have you ever seen these falls in the winter? You need to. You’ll need a Park N’ Ski permit ($25 annual) to park at the plowed trailheads. Free skiing compliments of our great FS folks. Go to
www.fs.usda.gov/activity/ctnf/recreation/wintersports

Craters of the Moon National Monument

This area provides a very unique Nordic skiing experience and is well groomed by the NPS. There is no place quite like it, especially in late season when the sun is out, and nobody is around – magical! No entrance fees in the winter!! Go to https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/craters-in-winter.htm

West Yellowstone, Rendezvous ski trails & USFS Boundary Trail

The Rendezvous Ski Trails system in West Yellowstone is still the
Cadillac of cross-country ski areas in the region. With 35 km of immaculately groomed trails in beautiful rolling forested terrain, this is the place to go if you really want to get serious. They usually have snow (and cold temps!) before everyone else in the country, typically by Thanksgiving. Be prepared to have Olympic skiers/biathletes leave you in the dust! Support West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation (WYSEF). $8 daily pass (Free Heel and Wheel) and worth it! Also, if you want to bring your dog, check out the USFS-groomed boundary trail. Go to www.skirunbikemt.com  and https://www.freeheelandwheel.com/ski-locations–maps.html

Teton Lakes Golf Course, Rexburg

30-min north of Idaho Falls, Teton Lakes provides both skate and classic loops that are fun, well groomed, and conveniently located. Doug keeps the place buffed-out, and the snow there is often good when Idaho Falls is in the slop. Check it out! Free! They have rentals for most ages as well.  Go to www.rexburg.org/rec/page/teton-lakes-winter-park

Pocatello (East Fork Mink Creek Nordic Center)

Located about 7 miles from Pocatello, the East Fork Mink Creek Nordic Center is operated by the City of Pocatello along with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and volunteers from the Pocatello Cross-Country Ski Foundation (PXCSF). Operated under a special use permit through the USFS, it hosts approximately 20k of groomed skate and classic ski trails, as well as separate snowshoe trails and a sledding hill. These guys groom like crazy, run ski classes, races, potlucks, you name it. $4-$9/day depending on age. Go to https://www.pocatello.us/313/East-Fork-Mink-Creek-Nordic-Center
and  www.pokyxc.org/trail-conditions

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