10 Places to go Snowshoeing in the Western US
Planning a snowy vacation this winter? Here are 10 awesome places to go snowshoeing west of the Rockies.
If you’re feeling cabin fever this winter, strap on some snowshoes and get outside at one of these best snowshoeing destinations in the Western US. Snowshoeing is a great winter outdoor activity to do solo or with friends and family. While I love hiking, sometimes it’s not an option in the winter, so I’m always on the lookout for winter outdoor sports that will keep me active in the snow.
Before I started skiing back in 2015, snowshoeing was an obvious choice for me. It’s easy, fun, and way cheaper than skiing. Apart from the snowshoes, all you need is a good pair of winter boots, warm clothes, hiking poles, and you’re set. These snowshoeing destinations west of the Rockies pack a punch with views and solitude – they’ll get you excited to hit the snowy trails and are so spectacular they may even get some of your skiing friends to join.
If you’re looking for a fun winter activity, here are the 10 best snowshoeing destinations west of the Rockies!
New to snowshoeing? Check out this post about how to snowshoe for tips and gear suggestions!
Best Snowshoeing Destinations – Mapped
Where to snowshoe in the West
1. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
First up on the list of the best snowshoeing destinations is Southern Utah’s Bryce Canyon. This high-altitude desert is always a magical place, but in the winter, the white snow against the mighty orange pinnacles provides a stark, colorful contrast that can’t be found anywhere else.
A winter vacation here means cheap lodging and thin crowds, even though most of the park’s trails remain open. Fairyland road and Paria Point road are closed to vehicles and are left unplowed for skiers and snowshoers to enjoy.
For an even more exciting adventure, plan your trip around the full moon and find solitude among the eerie moonlit hoodoos on a self-guided or free ranger-led nighttime hike.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
Rocky Mountain National Park has over 300 miles of hiking trails, many of which are perfect for winter exploration. Best conditions are found at elevations above 9,000 feet where the snow is deep and abundant. For your first visit, head to Estes Park and take the Bear Lake Trailhead up two miles to Emerald Lake, a frozen, bowl-shaped lake backed by 12,713 foot Hallett Peak.
The route itself passes through a beautiful pine forest with awesome views of the Rocky Mountain’s alpine terrain. Only two hours from Denver, this is one of the more accessible snowshoeing destinations for a winter vacation.
3. Castle Rocks State Park (Idaho)
Next up on the list of best snowshoeing destinations is Castle Rocks State Park. This off-the-beaten-path landscape in rural Southern Idaho is right down the road from the more well-known rock climbing mecca, City of Rocks.
Castle Rocks is known for its unique rock formations, out-of-this-world sunsets, and a heritage steeped in ranching. There are a wide variety of trails to choose from, with the 5 mile Castle Rocks Loop being a great choice to see the park’s highlights. For those wanting an overnight stay, there is a 6-person yurt as well as an 8-person ranch house and a 12-person bunkhouse that can be rented with advanced reservations.
4. Mt. Rose Peak (Nevada)
On the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, Mt. Rose is an extinct volcano and one of the most prominent mountains in the Carson Range. While this 10-mile, all-day snowshoe hike is challenging, the real reward for making it to the top of this mountain is a stunning panoramic view of Lake Tahoe.
At the end of the day, head down to Incline Village where there are tons of cozy accommodations and dining options right near the lake.
5. Jug Mountain Ranch (Idaho)
Note: Blue Moon Outfitters is temporarily closed due to the pandemic
For a beautiful day in the snow, head to Jug Mountain Ranch, a gorgeous community in Idaho known for its epic mountain biking trails that transform into snowshoeing and Nordic skiing trails in the winter. Warm up in their Clubhouse Restaurant with a hot drink or some dinner while enjoying expansive snowy views. You can learn more about winter activities at Jug Mountain and their affordable pass options here.
If you’d like to go on a guided tour, Blue Moon Outfitters offers an awesome snowshoeing excursion to a private yurt at Jug Mountain Ranch. They’re temporarily closed due to the pandemic so check their website or contact them for updates. When you arrive at the yurt, you’ll start with a warm beverage next to the rustic wood-burning stove, followed by a delicious gourmet spread planned personally by the chef. At the end of the night, you make your way back to the yurt while gazing up at the stars and enjoying the silence of the forest. Oh, and it’s BYOB, so don’t forget that bottle of red wine to compliment your meal.
6. Yosemite National Park (California)
Recognized by its stunning granite rocks and mountain faces, Yosemite National Park is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. To enjoy breathtaking views of some of Yosemite’s most magnificent rock formations, including Half Dome and Clouds Rest, start at the Badger Pass Ranger Station and make the 7-mile moderate round trip trek to the top of Dewey Point. This is one of the most notable snowshoeing destinations in the country.
7. Mt. Rainier (Washington)
One of the most prominent single mountains in the entire United States, Mt. Rainier has snowshoeing options for all abilities. Here you’ll encounter some of the most gorgeous glaciers that you’ll find south of Alaska. One of the quintessential winter hikes at Rainer takes you to Refection and Louise Lakes where you will have expansive views of the mountain and the surrounding Tatoosh Range.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, this is also a popular route for winter camping due to its spectacular sunrises.
8. Lily Lake Ski Area (Utah)
Two hours from Salt Lake City in the heart of the High Uintas Wilderness, the Bear River Outdoor Recreation Alliance maintains 6 backcountry yurts that are accessible by snowshoe between 2 to 7 miles from the Lily Lake Trail System trailhead.
An overnight stay requires packing in food, water, and supplies, so make sure you pack what you’ll need.
9. Sandia Crest (New Mexico)
You may have never thought you could snowshoe somewhere as far south as New Mexico. However, just a short drive away from Albuquerque, the Sandia Mountains are home to a number of snowshoe trails. For a fun day, ride the Sandia Peak Air Tram to the top of the Sandia Crest and then follow the crest line until you are ready to turn back and head down.
You’ll find trails ranging from half a mile to 30 miles. Just remember to check the snow report before you head out to make sure there is sufficient snow.
10. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Last but not least on the list of best snowshoeing destinations is Yellowstone National Park. In winter, most of the roads in Yellowstone are closed to vehicles, but there’s still a lot to explore. Book a room at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and hop on the shuttle with your snowshoes to explore many of Yellowstone’s amazing landmarks such as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, Firehole Canyon, and the Lone Star Geyser trail.
You can also book snowshoeing lessons and tours at Old Faithful Snow Lodge as well as cross-country skiing lessons and tours, wildlife excursions, and more.
Which of these best snowshoeing destinations west of the Rockies would you like to visit? Are there any spots we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
Great post, and great timing. I’m going to Yosemite national park for New Year’s Eve, First time there. Any tips for the trail?
Hi Angel! and thanks. Oh you are going to have such a blast. Yosemite is so incredible. I would just recommend stopping by the Badger Pass ski center and ask about snow conditions before heading out. You can also pick up a map there, as well as rent any equipment you might need. And don’t forget your camera!
Thanks Kristen. By the way, what can I do to get an email when I get a response on your blog? otherwise I don’t know if you replied or not.
Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve been meaning to add an option to be notified of follow up comments, so I went ahead and added a checkbox so you can do that next time.
I used to go snow shoeing at Stowe Mountain in Vermont and would love to try out some of the places your recommended! Thanks so much for this list!
Really Lovely Picture ! Great Post and Great Article ! Thanks for sharing .
Thanks so much! Glad you liked it. -Kristen
I live 40 miles from the entrance of Mt. Rainier so it’s where I snowshoe at most often. I went snowshoeing in Yellowstone for my 40th birthday and loved it. Castle Rock State Park in Idaho sounds pretty amazing!
Yea there is something magical about Yellowstone in the winter. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post. -Kristen
The Rocky Mountain sounds like a lot of fun. I will watch out for the bears and Bull Moose. If I go to the Rocky Mountains, your article will be my reference point.