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The Dog Days of Winter

Winter has long been upon us. Gratefully, the snowfall has been abundant, and the cold persistent, thereby providing us with the needed water storage for the rest of 2023. It is, however, during the months of February and March that many begin to despise the short cold days and long, even colder, nights. Even I, who loves winter the most, look forward to warm summer evenings around the campfire. It can be difficult to get out and experience the beauty of our world when everything seems to tell us to stay indoors for a few months. Road closures, icy roads, poor visibility, and dangerously low temperatures make exploring all the more cumbersome during the winter. Whether it be a persistent desire to get out or simply boredom, you may be itching to get outside one of these weekends and brave the deep snow and cold winds. Where will you go? What will you do? How long will you be gone?

Might I offer some advice? Albeit some of my favorite drives and hikes are inaccessible this time of year (unless you have the means to rent or already own a snowmobile), there are still many wonders to behold during these drab months! The animal life during the winter is abundant. Rather, the animal life we can readily see is more plentiful. The big game of the surrounding mountains, leave their elevated homes for calmer conditions in the valleys. Several species of waterfowl and raptors winter in our forests and along our rivers. Thus, elk, moose, eagles, swans, wolves (mostly in Yellowstone), deer, cranes, etc. can be spotted throughout the valleys and canyons of east Idaho, and western Wyoming. The moose, elk, and deer have already or will soon lose their antlers, but their appearances are nonetheless impressive! On crisp mornings in Jackson Hole, you may even hear the calls of elk from the preserve. Eagles and Swans are common along the Snake River and its tributaries from Warm Slough to Cress Creek and Wolf Flats. Island Park boasts deep snow, roaming elk and deer, abundant trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. R-mountain offers stunning views of the crisp landscape, the dunes beckon you to their steep and plentiful slopes where sledding is common and thrilling. The mountain passes offer more sledding hills, back-country skiing paths, and stunning winter wonderlands filled with trees laden with snow. Hiking is possible along nature trails and paths in the valleys, while snowshoeing allows access to more mountainous hikes such as the Palisades, Mesa Falls, and the trails of Teton Canyon and the other canyons of the Tetons. Swan Valley and Fall Creek Falls are still accessible and popular locations to explore too. The mountains out here look so good blanketed in thick snow! Wherever you choose to see them, on a clear day, they will not disappoint!

Tomorrow, I will spend the holiday at Goldbug Hotsprings. Tucked away in a tight valley in the Lemhi Mountains, these hotsprings are among the most natural and beautiful hotsprings I have personally visited and have become quite the coveted location to visit during the bitter cold winter months. Weekends and holidays are generally pretty busy, so if you can make a weekday work, you'll be at peace knowing there will likely be few people there. I'll let y'all know how busy it is tomorrow.

The point of all of this is: there is hope! There are beautiful places you can still visit! Even without spending a copious amount of money. I have specific routes for drives, locations for sunset pictures, and spots I prefer to see for a variety of moods and activities. Feel free to reach out and ask questions! I am branching out to new locations each year, and will continue sharing these adventures here. Southern Montana, central/west Idaho, central Wyoming, and much more are on my list of places to map out and explore, then share with you in greater detail. My contact information is included on this website, but for convenience, my number is 806-437-8382.

Below are some shots from my recent adventures! School has occupied much of my time lately, but still I have found time to get out on weekends to explore more of this gorgeous area. Locations shown include the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (and surrounding farm roads), Cress Creek and Wolf Flats, R-Mountain, Warm Slough, and roads around Rexburg. You'll notice my favorite time to take pictures is at sunset, the color is unmatched compared to the rest of the day, plus animals are more active around that time!

Enjoy these pictures, and till next time, stay safe out there!

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