Department Head
Mayor Brian Blad

Department Address
911 N. 7th Ave
Pocatello, ID 83201
234-6163
 
 
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CITY OF POCATELLO WEEKLY OP-ED ARTICLES

 

POCATELLO'S PATCHWORK OF WINTER RECREATION OPPORTUNITIES
Parks & Recreation Department

by Lance Clark
February 2, 2012


It is often said that the four seasons in Idaho include almost winter, winter, after winter and construction.  The point is that if you choose to live in Pocatello it is important to find activities that you can do all year to improve your health, including your mental health.


Winter recreation in the Pocatello area is a patchwork of agencies and opportunities.  While it can be confusing at times, it is also abundant.  The number of state, federal, county and city agencies that provide services is remarkable.


Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter sports and you can get a workout several ways.  Golf courses offer easy access after large storms.  Golf course users must stay off the greens and tee boxes.  There is no winter trail maintenance or grooming on golf courses.


The state operates the Park 'n Ski system.  Parking lots in the Mink Creek and Rapid Creek areas are plowed and require a pass for each vehicle.  Passes are sold by the weekend or the season. 


The trails are generally not groomed and are open to snowshoes. Some are mixed use with snowmobiles.  These trails work best when snowshoers and skiers use separate parallel tracks when possible.  The South Fork Road is part of Park ‘n Ski and is groomed by the Forest Service every week.  It is open to motorized traffic.  Grooming is more frequent during big storm cycles. Look for the Park ‘n Ski symbol before parking during the winter and make sure you have a pass in the vehicle. Park ‘n Ski passes are $25 annually or $7.50 for 3 days.  They can be purchased at ISU Outdoor Adventure Center, Scotts Ski & Sports, Raven's Nest, ACE Hardware, Snake River Sports and the Bannock County DMV.


The City of Pocatello operates the East Mink Creek Nordic Center (EMCNC).  Trails are groomed for skate and classic ski 7 days a week and no motorized vehicles are allowed.  Day passes are required and can be purchased on site 24/7.  The cost for adults is $8 per day and $3 per day for youth.  The EMCNC is located on 3525 East Mink Creek Road. Lessons, ski and snowshoe equipment rentals and other amenities are available Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Snowshoers at the EMCNC must stay off groomed trails.  There is a dedicated 3 mile snowshoe loop with nature stations.  Parking for non-skiers if $5 per vehicle per day.  Parking is included with trail passes for skiers.


The end of the East Fork Road often has a parking lot plowed and skiing up the road is free.  The road is open to motorized travel and is not groomed.  It is one of the only trails in the area that does not charge a fee of some sort.


Skiing and snowshoeing into yurts is a popular winter activity.  Yurts are large snow huts that have wood stoves and sleeping accommodations for overnight stays. ISU runs the Portneuf Range system and prices range from $23 to $80 per night.  Discounts are offered to Pocatello residents and ISU students and rates are cheaper on weekdays.  Difficulty ranges from an easy 1.5 mile trip to a challenging 4 mile journey where skins and avalanche transceivers are recommended.  Portneuf yurts have stoves, lanterns, some kitchen supplies and bunk beds. Check the ISU Outdoor Adventure Center website for more information about reservations.


The City of Pocatello runs the Mink Creek Yurt which rents for $40 per night.  It is 50 yards from the parking lot and is easily accessed in street clothes.  Yurt users need trail passes to use the ski trails and may not walk on groomed trails at any time.


For those just looking to try out winter sports, rentals are available in Pocatello at Barrie's Ski & Sports and Scott's Ski & Sports.  They both carry snowshoe and ski rentals with daily rates.  Rentals are also available at the ISU Outdoor Adventure Center to both students and public.


Whether you choose to ski or snowshoe and whether you head out for a few hours or go out for a weeklong tour, remember to travel safe and go with a group that is prepared for the circumstances.

 

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