Cascade Idaho: The Ultimate 3-Day Winter Itinerary
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The Ultimate 3-Day Cascade Idaho Winter Itinerary
I’m so excited that you are here and potentially/hopefully planning a trip to Cascade, Idaho! As a local Idahoan, I don’t believe Cascade gets as much love as its other mountain town friends, but trust me when I say….it’s a hidden gem! I was so lucky to get to explore over a 3-day weekend in the winter and am thrilled to share my trip with you.
Cascade truly has so much to offer in the winter and I’ve designed the perfect winter Cascade itinerary, complete with details to help you plan your trip. One of the best parts is that Cascade is only a 1-hour 45-minute drive from Boise, the capital of Idaho, making it a wonderful weekend trip.
Take full advantage of your winter in the mountains and follow this 3-day winter itinerary! From snowmobiling to ice fishing to cross-country skiing to downhill skiing, there’s no doubt you’ll have a blast.
If winter in the mountains isn’t your jam, Cascade in the summer is a lake playground with hiking, boating, and outdoor adventures galore.
How to get to Cascade
Flying: If you’re flying to Idaho, your best bet is going to be to fly to Boise and rent a carand drive 1-hour 45-minutes from Boise to Cascade.
Driving: You’ll no doubt want a car when you’re exploring Cascade in the winter. I also recommend making sure your car has 4-wheel drive or is good in the snow in case you’re there while there’s a large snowfall. When driving from Boise, you’ll take State Highway 55 which is technically called The Payette River National Scenic Byway, and Cascade is located 70 miles north of Boise.
The Weather in Cascade
Cascade sits at an elevation of 4780 ft, averages 207 days a year of sunshine, and gets 88 inches of snowfall a year! In the winter, temperatures average 10-30 degrees. See my list for packing for Idaho here.
Where to stay in Cascade
The Ashley Inn – We stayed at the one-of-a-kind, Ashley Inn, located on the edge of downtown in Cascade. The entire vibe is cozy and inviting with floral Victorian decor. See my tour of the property here. My personal favorite parts of the Inn were the robes, fresh warm cookies at 8 pm every night, and their hot tub and pool. See current prices.
Palooza Base Camp – This is a new boutique hotel in downtown Cascade inside the old Chief Hotel. Below they have a restaurant, coffee shop and axe throwing!
Cascade Idaho Winter Itinerary – Day 1:
Snowmobiling & Check-In
Arrive in the morning to Cascade and get ready for a day of snowmobiling! Snowmobiling is an extremely popular activity in Cascade. With the snowmobiling diversity in the area, you can find 300+ miles of groomed trail network and challenging backcountry terrain if you’re more advanced.
Rent your snowmobile
Plan ahead and book your snowmobile gear from Mike and Susie Shaak of Snow Dogs of Cascade. If you want to rent snowmobiles or ATVs, or even need to be towed if you get stuck, give Mike a call at 208-982-7227. Mike is awesome and he also frequents Tackle Tom’s, so you can always call them to get your rental secured.
Where to go snowmobiling
This is a great resource to find the different trails around the area. If you are a newer snowmobiler like Jack and me, I recommend doing the route we did on West Mountain! It was groomed, and on a clear day, you would get a full panoramic view of Lake Cascade below.
Take the snowmobiles to the Lake Cascade Boat Access ramp next to theLakefront Bar and Grill, only a few minutes from Tackle Tom’s. You’ll then cross straight (and I mean directly across Lake Cascade over the ice to the Anderson Creek Parking Area (located on this map). You’ll then see a sign for West Mountain and you’ll want to take the groomed road heading up the mountain to the right. Just follow this road all the way to the top (it says 9.3 on it on this map) and take it about 45 mins up to the 4 Corners Warming Hut. Just be sure to wear a helmet and stay to the right side of the road in case you see other people out there.
You can continue on to other trails once you’re at the top, but be sure to check out the Warming Hut at the 6,500-foot level. We didn’t get to witness the epic views of the lake because it was a snow storm, but photos I’ve seen look amazing on a clear day.
Day 1 Lunch:
We headed back from snowmobiling and had a nice lunch with a view of the lake at the Lakefront Bar and Grill (it’s actually a golf course in the summer). I recommend getting a Jacked Up Philly Cheesesteak. So good! Also, if you’re not from Idaho, be sure to get the tater tots and fry sauce to dip them in (a very Idaho thing).
After a day of snowmobiling, we were pretty cold so we checked into the Ashley Inn and then had a nice hot tub and pool session and took a quick rest before dinner. Our dinner spot has gone out of business, but soon I’ll be updating this with a new recommendation!
Cascade Idaho Winter Itinerary – Day 2
Snowshoe, Nordic Ski, Aquatic Center & Downtown
Day 2 Breakfast
Sleep in a bit if you feel like it, but make sure to grab breakfast a Gramma’s to start your day. It’s only a short walk from Ashley Inn if you choose to stay there. I recommend ordering the Biscuit special if you like biscuits and gravy. Jack loved the breakfast sandwich.
After breakfast, it’s time for snowshoeing or nordic country skiing!
Get out in the open and cross country ski or snowshoe! We loved the Hasbrouck Ranch Nordic trails. It was about 5 miles of trail through aspen groves and meadows. Dogs are allowed here as well. Another popular trail is the Crown Point Trail which is an old railroad bed that parallels the shore of the lake. It’s easy and flat with beautiful views.
With all of the public lands around Cascade, there are plenty of places to nordic ski. Just be sure to be pack in and pack out and remember that downhill skiers have the right of way.
Tamarack also has 7 km of dog-friendly trails overlooking the lake, and Stolle Meadows is great in the Warm Lake area.
Day 2 lunch
After spending some time outside, you might be a bit hungry or tired. We LOVED Thunder Mountain Burgers for lunch. Their burgers were juicy, their fries and fry sauce were perfect and we loved their shake. You’ll be full when you leave, but it will be very much worth it.
Walk around downtown Cascade
Cascade has the cutest little downtown. It’s super quaint and it won’t take you long to walk around, but still fun to check out! I’m a sucker for old theatres and loved taking photos of the old Roxy Theatre. Also, Watkins Pharmacy reminds me of a small town drug-store with cute little souvenirs and nick-nacks. Head over to the Chamber of Commerce office if you want any more information about Cascade while you’re in the area. If you’re staying in an Airbnb, grab your groceries at D9.
Visit the Cascade Aquatic & Recreation Center
We loved getting a day pass to enjoy the bubbled-in pool and hot tub at the Cascade Aquatic & Recreation Center. We had the entire bubble to ourselves and it was so nice to enjoy the hot tub and pool! They also have a full gym if you feel like working out. You can get a day pass for $6 here.
Day 2 dinner
Tonight, eat at the Whistle Stop for their homemade pizza or famous prime rib dinners. They have beer on tap and it’s a great family-friendly joint.
Cascade Winter Itinerary – Day 3
Drive to Warm Lake
Day 3 Breakfast
Grab breakfast either at the Ashley Inn’s complimentary breakfast or head over to Gramma’s to try a different meal. Fuel up for a bit of a drive to Warm Lake!
Drive to Warm Lake
Warm Lake is about a 45-minute (26 miles) drive from Cascade to the east in the Boise National Forest. In the winter, the roads out to Warm Lake can be pretty slippery and windy, so be sure you have a car that has either 4-wheel drive or the ability to add chains. My car is actually a small SUV all-wheel drive and it made it just fine. Be sure to look out for wildlife on the drive! We saw a bald eagle right after we turned from Cascade.
Relax in a natural hot spring
About 15 miles on the Warm Lake road is Trail Creek Hot Springs! Just be careful because it’s super steep to get down and in the winter most people slide down on their bums. If you’d rather a more ‘tame’ hot spring, check out Gold Fork Hot Springs. This is a natural spring but is commercial so you’ll have to pay to get in and use the lockers. Just make sure to take care of the natural hot springs, haul out all trash, and leave them how you found them.
Warm Lake Activities
There are so many activities to do once you’re at Warm Lake! We went ice fishing with the manager from the Warm Lake Lodge and had a blast, but there are also 300 miles of groomed trails for snowmobiling near Warm Lake and there are great backcountry nordic skiing options and snowshoe trails. Try Nordic skiing at Stolle meadowsor ask at the North Shore Lodge for different recommendations for what to do while you’re there!
Dining at Warm Lake
We had all of our meals at the North Shore Lodge which is technically the only place you can get food in the winter at Warm Lake. Good news? Their food is SO SO good. Everyone raves about their burgers and bloody marys and we were there for Valentine’s Day so they had a special menu of filet mignon and scallops. Naturally, we indulged and loved it. They also have a full bar with karaoke! Plus, the restaurant and bar are in the same room, so chances of making friends is almost guaranteed.
Lodging at Warm Lake
Warm Lake Lodge – We stayed at the newly remodeled Warm Lake Lodge in one of their cabins! I mean, look how cute these are. I can’t wait to visit again in the summertime. Note, the Warm Lake Lodge isn’t always open to the public in the winter so check online before you book. To book your cabin, check the rates here.
North Shore Lodge is another great option. Their cabins aren’t as newly remodeled, but they have 10 cute little cabins to stay in. The lodge has a cozy fire, full bar, and restaurant to cozy up in the winter. They don’t have running water in the winter but do provide flushing water for the toilets. The cabins are heated and dry and you always have the option to hang out in the cozy lodge. You will also need to bring your own sleeping bags, bedding, and drinking water though. Both of these lodges are only a few minutes from each other. Check current rates here.
Cascade Winter Itinerary – Day 4
Head home or enjoy more Cascade activities
Alpine Skiing at Tamarack Resort– If you’d like to continue your trip, you can head to Tamarack Resort for some pretty amazing downhill skiing at their newly remodeled resort.
Sledding or Tubing – If you’re traveling with kids, this is a great activity. You can sled for free at Cascade’s golf course, or you can go around the surrounding Cascade area to any of the gentle slopes and tube down! Rentals are available at many of the local shops in town.
Ice Fishing on Lake Cascade -We ice-fished at Warm Lake, but Lake Cascade is one of the more famous lakes to fish on. In fact, they have a competition every year! Learn more about ice fishing in Idaho here.
I hope you have a wonderful time in Cascade during the wintertime! Let me know in the comments if you have any other great tips for visiting Cascade in the winter. Also, let’s keep in touch on Instagram, @travelingspud!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 30 something from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography, and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.