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Idaho Back Roads: Snowmobiling to Burgdorf Hot Springs

A long cold ride to a hot destination
Posted at 1:35 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 16:15:50-05

BURGDORF, IDAHO — It's a true back roads winter experience; a twenty-three mile snowmobile ride in the mountains north of McCall. For a novice rider like me, the long trip is grueling, but at the end of the trail is the perfect remedy for sore muscles - the clear, hot water at Burgdorf Hot Springs.

Our adventure begins at Red Line Recreational Toys in McCall. Where you can rent snowmobiles for the day or for an overnight trip. They will also map the route for you.

From McCall, it is a short drive by car to the point where Burgdorf Road closes during the winter. From there it's you, your snowmobile and the snow. On this blue bird day, the temperature increases as we rise in elevation. When we started in McCall the temperature was three degrees below zero.

The higher we go, the warmer it gets. At Upper Payette Lake the temperature is forty degrees.

A perfect reason for some first time riders from Israel to stop on the trail to enjoy the winter scenery.

"It's beautiful. You know in isreal no snow at all," said Hila Haeliou. "Only in one place. It's called Hermon."

As the ride continues there are many places to go off-trail and play in the powder. I leave that to my younger and very experienced counterpart Steve Dent.

"This is definitely the most powerful snowmobile I've ever ridden," said Dent. "But snowmobiling is also tiring because you have to shift your weight in order to help the sled maneuver."

The fact that he is tiring makes me feel a bit better about my sore muscles as we finish the ride for the day arriving at Burdorf. And that's where riders, including our Israeli friends get the reward for the ride and relief from the tension, in pools built around natural hot springs with temperatures ranging from one hundred to one hundred thirteen degrees.

And staying until tomorrow is definitely an option in one of several cabins, but don't expect deluxe accommodations.

"Accommodations at Burdorf are definitely rustic. There are no furnaces, but there is plenty of firewood, and inside each cabin, a wood burning stove to keep you warm through the night."

If you plan to stay, you must bring your own bedding, and your own source of light. And the cabins have no running water, so be prepared to use the nearby outhouses.

Whether going for the day, or an extended stay, be prepared to travel several more miles to the nearest restaurants and pubs, and be prepared for a unique but somewhat primitive outdoor experience that some winter adventurers have near the tops of their bucket lists.

"Going from riding the snow machines and the snow bikes, you know, all morning long up here and you get a little bit chilly," said Travis Gibson. "And jumping into this, you know, it's awesome. That's what I was telling every body this afternoon. This experience is now one of the top five coolest things I've done in my life."