8 Ways to Kickstart Winter Fun at Lava

The temps are dropping, the flurries are flying, and the holidays are just around the corner — it’s time to lean into winter! At Lava Hot Springs, millions of acres of snowy countryside meet in-town fun that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Make us your cozy home base while you embark on adventure after adventure! Get started with these can’t-miss excursions. 

Step Into a Gingerbread Wonderland

Lava’s annual Gingerbread Walk brings stunning little holiday houses to businesses throughout downtown — and then the city gets brilliant with a flip of the switch! Check out the gingerbread houses on display at local businesses, then head to Veteran’s Park on Nov. 26 at 5:30 p.m. for the much-anticipated Holiday Lighting. Santa Claus will be on hand during this event, when the town’s decorations come to life for the first time. Wrap your hands around a mug of hot chocolate, grab a cookie, and wait in anticipation with the crowd as Lava’s mayor sets the town’s Christmas tree aglow. Gingerbread houses will be on display until Dec. 31, when the fun gets packed up until 2023. Be sure to pick up a self-guided Gingerbread Walk tour brochure at participating businesses. 

Dance Into the Holidays

Why not boogie off a few of those holiday cookies while supporting Lava’s seniors? Head to the Lava Senior Center on December 10 for the “Christmas for a Cause” dance featuring holiday and jazz by The Dewdroppers of Idaho Falls. Refresh yourself between turns on the dance floor with food and drink and enter the raffe for a shot at great prizes! The dance will be from 5-9 p.m. at the center located at 150 North Center Street. Tickets available at the center’s website

Blaze a New Trail

Few winter pleasures come close to breathing in clean mountain air while trekking down freshly groomed trails. At Baker Ranch, you can indulge to your heart’s content. No snowmobiles are allowed on the ranch’s snowshoe/cross-country ski/fat tire trails, so you’ll get plenty of peaceful time among some of the area’s most outstanding scenery. Rent snowshoes from the ranch or bring your own skis or bikes, then head out for a lovely day on beginner or intermediate trails. Snowshoeing can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour, so you might find yourself tempted to tuck into a big dinner in Downtown Lava (more on that later). 

Discover Sled Heaven

Fire up that sled and blast any winter blues away! Whether you’re looking for a ride through a Narnia-like snow-covered forest or a scenic route with views of Mount Harrison, you’ll find a trail to suit you. Most Forest Service roads double as snowmobile trails, but you can find an excellent list of adventure paths on this map from Southeast Idaho High Country

Zip Through Winter

Other ziplines throughout the state close down during the winter months — but not at Lava! Get your heart racing with an exhilarating trip down the Lava Zipline and Ropes Course Adventure. You’ll experience winter from a completely different angle, plus the ropes course is the perfect fun-for-the-whole-family challenge. Why not start a new tradition and see which member of your clan has the best time to the finish? Don’t forget to stock up on gift certificates while you’re there — this adventure is one they’ll enjoy any time of year!

Soak Through the Season

The hot pools at Lava Hot Springs may hit peak popularity during the summer months, but insiders know that winter holds its own special perks. The crowds are sparser and the perfectly heated water (102 to 112 degrees) just hits differently when the outside air is crisp. A simple soak in our mineral-rich waters will help unknot kinks thanks to a potent natural cocktail of magnesium, potassium, and manganese — which is exactly the sort of relief you’ll need while hitting the holiday party-and-presents circuit. 

If you’re looking for a swim instead of a soak, check out the Lava Hot Springs Olympic Swimming Complex and Indoor Aquatic Center. The outdoor pools are closed, but the indoor aquatic center stays open all year long. Here’s a pro tip: Morning swimmers can use the 25-yard pool for laps from 6-9 a.m. for only $2 per visit! 

Unwind (Or Wind Up!) Downtown

Once the outdoor fun is over, head to Lava’s exceptionally cute downtown. It’s open all winter long — and with plenty of boutique shopping available, you’ll be sure to find amazing stocking stuffers and presents. When you’ve ticked every name off your list, head to the Wagon Wheel Lounge for a bit of weekend live music and a turn on the dance floor — or take the whole family to the classic Chuck Wagon Cafe for home-cooked meals or Riverwalk Thai for authentic flavors from Thailand. 

If you’re planning a girls’ weekend or a holiday getaway with your sweetie, why not book an indulgent wine tasting at the Riverside Portneuf Grill & Lounge? It’s located in the Riverside Hot Springs Inn and Spa, one of several lodging options that feature the same thermal waters as our famous hot springs. 

Hit the Slopes at Pebble Creek

In a state full of havens for skiers and snowboarders, Pebble Creek Ski Area stands out for its family-friendly slopes. This ski area is just a short drive away from Lava Hot Springs and offers enough excitement for everyone from newbies to seasoned pros. Bonus for you sun lovers: With a summit elevation of 9,271 feet, you’ll be well out of the way of any fog or clouds collecting in the valley below. 

Head to the To Do section of our website for even more ways to make the most of this winter! Our year-round activities are perfect for everyone from solo wellness enthusiasts to multi-generational families.