Lava Hot Springs may be a small town, but its holiday spirit could fill the whole state. No wonder it is increasingly a must-visit winter destination for folks from Eastern Idaho, Northern Utah, and beyond — it’s the perfect place to kick off a new family tradition.
Whether you prefer to stay cozy and explore festive decorations or carve up the slopes (or maybe both), you’ll discover plenty of reasons to add Lava to your holiday getaway list. You can time your visit to your preferences, too: If you prefer a laid-back vibe, book your trip during the week, when crowds are at their lowest; if hustle and bustle is essential to getting into the holiday spirit, try the weekends. Either way, you’ll enjoy the town’s famous charm and the area’s unbelievably accessible winter activities.
We’ve rounded up the top five reasons to escape to Lava between now and New Year’s. Grab your tinsel, dust off that Santa hat, and dig out the snowsuits and swimsuits!
Catch the Lava Hot Springs Holiday Spirit: The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the official start of Christmas season at Lava Hot Springs. Throw on a scarf, bundle up the kids, and head to Veteran’s Park for the annual Holiday Lighting at 6:30 p.m. November 27. Santa will be on hand to visit with the kids, there will be plenty of hot chocolate and cookies to fuel the festive fun, and — of course — beautiful lights to bask in.
The annual Gingerbread Walk will once again serve up some sweetness, with four blocks of businesses displaying their own creations. Pick up a guide to these colorful decorations at any participating business and create your own cheery walking tour; the houses will be on display through the month of December, so see them while you can!
Soak Like a Pro: Lava’s famous pools offer tons of family fun during the summer, but hot springs connoisseurs swear by cold-weather soaking. There’s something extra therapeutic about stepping from chilly outdoor temperatures into blissfully hot springs — if you begin racking up aches and pains when the leaves fall, there’s nothing better. Plus, it’s an affordable outing for families during the holidays: Admission is only $8 for adults on weekdays, $10 on weekends, with reduced rates for children. Why not start a new holiday tradition this year?
Head to the Mountain: If you’re looking for a mountain experience that can satisfy everyone from beginners to double black diamond enthusiasts, Pebble Creek Ski Area should be at the top of your list. There are plenty of easy and intermediate runs for the entire family, but thrill-seekers will flock to The Drop, The Face, South Bowl, and Jack Rabbit. The extra adventurous can go off trail and tackle the ungroomed back side of Mount Bonneville (be sure to check avalanche conditions before heading out!). Of course, there’s no better way to end the day than with a soak — and several hotels in Lava offer on-site or in-room hot springs to take the edge off.
Blaze a New Trail: When it comes to winter sports in Southeast Idaho, snowmobiling is king. The area around Lava Hot Springs boasts an incredible network of more than 600 groomed trails alone! Add in miles and miles of ungroomed trails and you have a nearly endless supply of jaw-dropping terrain that will thrill sledders of all experience levels. Take a trip to the historic Pebble Guard Station, zoom along the Portneuf River, marvel at the towering Mount Bonneville, and enjoy miles upon miles of snow-covered forest. You can find trail maps here. (Heads up: Don’t forget that your snowmobile must have been registered on or before Nov. 1, 2021, to avoid fines.)
Relax Into Your Stay: Why not turn your Lava Hot Springs visit into an extended stay? The town offers a wide variety of lodging options, from rustic cabins and RV parking to full-service hotels and B&Bs with in-room soaking pools. Some even offer massage therapy so you can double down on the relaxation! Discover a full list of lodging options on the Lava Hot Springs website.
Want even more ideas? Discover great entertainment, recreation, and dining options on our website. We’re looking forward to helping you celebrate the season!