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Five things to do in the winter

Throughout the winter months, the snow never seems to cease falling. Locals and students around Rexburg have expressed their favorite spots to enjoy the chilly winter days.

St. Anthony Sand Dunes

Twenty-five minutes west lies the rolling sand dunes of St. Anthony. During the spring and summer, it is a popular off-road or photo spot for locals and students, but as winter comes, the sandhills turn into a sledding destination.

People enjoying going down the snow-covered hills at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes
People enjoying going down the snow-covered hills at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes Photo credit: Eric Glossarth

Although certain spots close on Jan. 1, the smaller dunes, which are located to the east of Egin Lakes Campground to Red Road, are open year-round, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

“It can be as easy and chill as you want or it can be dare devilish,” said Joshua Riding, junior studying psychology. “Near the front, the dunes are typically smaller and they are used more, but further back, they tend to be a little taller and have a better slope. So you can go for quite a long while.”

Upper Mesa Falls

This is about a 50-minute drive from Rexburg. According to Visit Idaho, these falls are as tall as a 10-story building and have a simple walking path that leads to a few different viewpoints.

“It’s fun, easy to hike, and beautiful,” said Hamilton Birkeland, a junior studying civil engineering. “In the winter there is a whole different texture from the snow, but you have to be careful because the roads can get really slick and they don’t have guard rails,”

Last winter, Birkeland was driving to the falls with his family when he spotted tire tracks going off the side of a ravine. He slowed his car down gently to a stop. When he got out to look over the side, he noticed a family making their way back to the top.

No one was injured, but it is important to drive slower than what someone may think is necessary to avoid any accidents and possible injuries.

Harriman State Park

This state park is about a 50-minute drive from Rexburg and has a $5 entrance fee. It offers a number of winter activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking. Some trails are one-way and it is important for visitors to pay attention to the signs they may see along the way, according to Idaho State Parks.

Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park Photo credit: Rachel Leavitt

“For anyone who is visiting for the first time, they have to make a stop at the Jones House — it offers a view of the Henry’s Fork River and lots of swans spend the winters there,” said Rachel Leavitt, BYU-Idaho alumna. “Going around the Silver Lake or the River trail are some of my favorite things to do as well. And if you want a challenge, you can’t miss Heart Attack Hill.”

Grand Teton National Park

This national park is similar to Harriman State Park with what outdoor activities are offered and popular. Some winter recreation activities include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It is also a popular place for photographers to visit, according to the National Park Service.

It is always important to check the weather before heading out to a place with mountain roads in the wintertime. Check for both road conditions and weather forecasts before making the trek to Grand Teton National Park.

It would take about 1 hour and 50 minutes to drive from Rexburg on a day with good weather and has a $30 entrance fee. There are a few areas in the park that are closed in the winter. According to the National Park Service, the closed areas are, “Snake River bottom from Moose north to Moran Junction, Buffalo Fork of the Snake River in the park, Kelly Hill, Uhl Hill and Wolff Ridge.

Teton Lakes Winter Park

This is a golf course in the spring, summer and fall, but when the snow comes it transforms into a fun place for winter activities. The ski course and sledding hill are free. The park provides ski rentals for a small fee to anyone who doesn’t have their own equipment, according to the City of Rexburg.

“We went skate skiing and the trails were really nicely groomed,” said Sophia Birkeland, a BYU-I alumna. “We’ve only been there once but we’ll probably go again and it’s also free, which is nice.”

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