It was 5:30 am. Half asleep and on my way to the outdoor privvy near the Elkhorn yurt in the central Idaho mountains, I did a double take at the outdoor thermometer. Sure enough, it DID say 5 degrees below zero. What was I thinking? Still, my German heritage inspired me to trek on to my chosen destination, as I reveled in the immense starlit Idaho sky. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude I chanted. The day ahead promised pristine powder backcountry skiing in deeper snow than I had ever seen before.
The Elkhorn yurt is conveniently located off the Elkhorn Loop trail for use by Nordic skiers and snowshoers. This yurt is the most remote of all the Idaho City yurts, with direct access to over 27 miles of groomed and 50 miles of marked ski trails. The Idaho Parks & Recreation website notes: “…the 270° view to the east, south and west is spectacular, especially in the evening. The open, rolling terrain below the yurt provides off‐trail skiers a chance to polish their skills. The nearby ungroomed Cougar trail provides access to a prime intermediate level telemark area…”
I can vouch for the amazing powder skiing on groomed or ungroomed trails – bring your snowshoes, nordic or tele skis, some good food and wine, plenty of sunscreen and 10 or so of your closest winter loving buddies. This is the yurt trip of a lifetime.