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      Hells Canyon Adventures

      THE BEST WINTER ADVENTURES IN IDAHO

      While the temperatures outside are dropping, the number of things to do is ramping up. That’s because the great people of Idaho just have an adventurous spirit, no matter the time of year. While we here at Killgore Adventures in White Bird have largely wrapped up our activities for the season, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to do in the winter! Check out some of these great activities to enjoy during the colder months.

      THE AMERICAN DOG DERBY

      First started in 1917, the American Dog Derby takes place every year in Ashton, Idaho. Featuring five different races, this event now spans a full-weekend, meaning you can enjoy hours of this iconic and timeless experience. Teams from across the Rocky Mountain region come to Ashton every year in order to compete in the oldest American dog sledding race. At the starting line, you’ll see dog sled teams who have run the Iditarod, third-generation mushers, and new-comers to the sport, all competing in this fun winter adventure.

      HUNTING

      With the right permits and the right layers, every season is hunting season in Idaho. Once you’ve checked with the Idaho Fish and Game to see what’s in season and what’s not and you’ve taken your hunter safety course, you can pursue game like elk. It’s an amazing way to experience the natural grandeur of Idaho, and the beauty of the state and the thrill of the hunt is only magnified by the piles of snow-draped across the landscape.

      THE MCCALL WINTER CARNIVAL

      First started in the 1960s, the McCall Winter Carnival is a celebration of all things chilly and snowy. The event now draws more than 60,000 people to McCall every winter in order to see the massive snow and ice sculptures, take part in the Mardi Gras parades, and enjoy the music, food, and art the carnival brings. When you’re not enjoying the myriad of comedy performances and art shows, you can watch the snow bike races and the monster dog pull. 

      FISHING

      You might pause at this suggestion, after all, with the winter weather, doesn’t the water freeze? Well, you’re not wrong, but that fact shouldn’t keep you from getting out there with rod and reel to see what’s biting. IF you’re curious as to where you should try first, make sure you check out our recent blog posts on places to fish during the winter in Idaho. And don’t forget to read our quick-hitting guide on tips and tricks to make the most of your experience!

      HARRIMAN STATE PARK

      Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t explore the beautiful state parks throughout Idaho. For those who enjoy nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and snow biking, Harriman State Park is the place to be. The park features more than 25 miles of snow-covered trails that have been groomed for use. No matter your skill level, you’re sure to have a great time at this park that’s equally stunning in winter as it is in summer.

      SNOWMOBILING

      If you thought riding an ATV in winter was fun, wait until you try a snowmobile! There are plenty of places to go zipping through the snow and ice in Idaho. Once your snowmobile is registered with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, you can take your ride to dozens of different snow-covered locales. We’re big fans of Island Park, which features 950 miles of groomed trails that are suitable for riders of all ages and skill levels. Plus, it’s just 30 miles from the famous west entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

      YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

      Not crazy about crowds? Looking for dramatic landscapes made all the more spectacular by snow and ice? Then visiting Yellowstone in the winter might be for you! With fewer people, lower temps, and bubbling geyser pools, the landscape of this world-class park completely transforms during the winter. However, getting there can be a little challenging. The park roads begin to close at certain junctions starting in about November. Beginning in mid-December, you can begin to enjoy the park via snowmobile or snow coach. The park begins to get ready for its spring and summer crowds in March when snowplows start to open up the roads.

      START PLANNING YOUR SPRING AND SUMMER ADVENTURES TODAY

      Not one for the cold? No problem. We’ve got all the warm-weather adventures you could ever hope for! Have your own Hells Canyon adventures with Killgore Adventures! From helicopter tours to jet boat rides and more, we’ve got something for everyone. Book your adventure today!

      THE OUTDOOR GEAR YOU CAN USE ON ANY ADVENTURE

      Whether you’re relatively new to the world of outdoor adventuring, or if you’re a seasoned veteran, one thing is clear; the right gear helps you do more. But what if you can’t afford specialized gear for super specific outdoor scenarios? What if you just need a basic kit that allows you to get outside to enjoy the world? Turns out, you can build a kit just like that if you are selective with your choices. Let’s take a look at a list of gear that you can use on any adventure.

      A COMPASS

      In the era of the smartphone, these useful tools seem to find their way into fewer and fewer backpacks. While smartphones and GPS units are undoubtedly useful and have more than their fair share of features, these devices require electricity somehow. When the batteries die, how are you to navigate? That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a simple compass in your outdoor gear bag. They don’t weigh much and they can be invaluable in a pinch. Just make sure you’ve got a reliable set of maps to go along with it.

      A POCKET KNIFE

      We’re not talking about some massive Rambo-esque knife, but a simple pocket knife. There’s a reason that the Swiss army knife is so ubiquitous, it’s an exceptional design and is infinitely useful. A simple knife like this is great for cutting up bits of snacks, cutting cord, whittling tent stakes when you forget yours at home, and so much more. Plus, they’re compact and only weigh a few ounces. Slip one into your front pocket or into an easily accessible space in your day pack.

      A FIRST AID KIT

      You can never predict when you might scrap an elbow, bump your head, or just start to get achy while you’re out in nature. So why not play it safe and bring a first aid kit? It doesn’t have to be an elaborate multi-pound monster either. Simply throw some bandaids, a few painkillers, and some medical tape into a plastic baggy and you’ve got enough to manage most bumps and bruises while out on the trail. That said, it’s not a bad idea to take a wilderness first aid course if you plan on spending more than just an afternoon outside.

      A RAINCOAT

      Even if you don’t live in a particularly rainy area, you’ll still find plenty of uses for a raincoat. They make for a great insulating layer on those mornings where it’s just a little too chilly, you can fold it up and sit on it to stay off the cold ground, and you can even use it to wrap up your cold beverages to help keep them cold. Plus, it keeps you dry during the rain and the snow! You can find out more about raincoats in our blog post about the layering system.

      A HEADLAMP

      Heck, even a basic flashlight will do, but having a source of light for those evening hikes is always a great idea. Find a light that has both white and red lights so you can use it in a variety of settings. Make sure it takes easy to find batteries like AAAs so you can easily swap them out if need be. Even if you don’t plan on staying out after dark, having one nearby is always a good idea in case you stay out longer than you intended.

      A LIGHTER

      A simple light goes a long way when you need it. Don’t use something that needs to be refilled, like a Zippo, as the fuel in these often dries up right before you really need it. Instead, hit the local gas station and pick up a simple Bic lighter. You’ll struggle to ever run out of fuel, and you can use it to light a nearly endless number of fires.

      A DAYPACK

      A good day pack can store everything listed above, plus your snacks and water for your next outing. Your daypack doesn’t have to be big or complicated. In fact, for your first few outings, you can even use the backpack you took to school. You just want something large enough to hold onto items like your coat, first aid kit, water bottle, and compass. If you’re looking for something more robust, you can check a local outfitter for something like a 30-liter daypack. You’ll find that this is more than enough space for most of the adventures you go on.

      A THIRST FOR ADVENTURE

      Ok, a little cheesy, but still an invaluable resource to have when you’re ready to get outside and explore. Having the right mindset means you’re more likely to hunt down the little known places near you. 

      If you’re looking for an adventure like none other, then it’s time to come explore Hells Canyon. Home to some of the most scenic rivers in the United States, Killgore Adventures takes you up and down the Snake and Salmon Rivers on our famous jet boatwhitewater rafting, and helicopter toursBook yours today!

      HOW TO PREPARE YOUR GEAR FOR WINTER STORAGE

      Here in Idaho, winter has well and truly settled in. While we long ago traded in our shorts and t-shirts for flannels and jeans, that doesn’t always mean we’ve done a great job of preparing our gear for the change in seasons.

      If you’re an avid outdoor recreator, or even an amateur one, it’s likely that you’ve got your fair share of specialized outdoor gear that you only use at certain points of the year. As the seasons change, so too does the gear you use. But if you’ve been slow to get organized and ready for winter activities this year, there’s no need to worry. The outfitters at Killgore Adventures have put together this handy guide for you to use to get your gear ready for winter storage.

      CLEAN GEAR IS HAPPY GEAR

      Summer time activities may be “good clean fun,” but that doesn’t mean that your gear doesn’t get a little dirty doing it. We always start our process by cleaning up all of our gear. Most outdoor gear gets a good coating of dust, dirt, and debris as we use it. Our gear is treated to a quick wipe down with warm water and a little soap. Most soft goods, like bags, jackets, and even tents can be rinsed with a detergent or mild dish soap with no problems. 

      For other items, like sleeping bags, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to clean it. For instance, down sleeping bags need to be cleaned with a special down detergent, and should be tumbled dry on low heat. We recommend throwing a tennis ball in there to fluff up the bag.

      If you’re a boater, you’ll want to use a special cleaning agent to wipe down the interior and exterior of the boat. This keeps dirt and dust from wearing on the sides, which could cause leaks later. It may also be a requirement if you want to bring your boat into some bodies of water in order to prevent the spread of invasive species.

      MAKE TIME FOR REPAIRS

      No matter how cautious you are, your gear is going to take a beating when you go outside. Tree branches catch jacket sleeves, backpacks tumble down rock faces, dry bags get thrown overboard. When your gear gets a little beat up, that doesn’t mean it’s time to replace it. Instead, you can make simple repairs. 

      We’re big fans of technical tape which can be used as an impromptu patch on jackets, tents, and bags. But once you’re back home, you should take some time to properly repair these issues with the right fabric or patching materials. For instance, rafters will need to patch any holes with the right material and proper cement to ensure that their boat serves them for many more years. Identifying and repairing any damage now ensures that you don’t start the next season with a huge hole in your favorite hiking shoes.

      RESTOCK AND REFRESH

      During your outdoor adventures, you probably worked through a lot of your regular outdoor supplies. Headlamps drained through their share of batteries, friends needed a few more band aids than they expected, and you probably ate all of your favorite trail mix.

      As your putting away your gear for the winter, restock on some of these consumable items. While you’re at it, take a look at items that may have expired or depleted while the seasons changed. For instance, take your batteries out of your headlamp, and see if your first aid supplies have expired. Take a few moments to restock these things now can save you a headache later.

      GET ORGANIZED

      If you’re a regular backpacker, it’s pretty likely that you’ve got a “system” for packing your gear. The same items go in the same place every time. You should apply this same thought process to your gear storage as well. For instance, take a few moments to look over all your gear, and figure out a way to store it that makes sense. You can store your sleeping ags hung up and out of their bags by hanging them in a closet. Your backpacks can be tucked into a corner of that same closet, and hard gear like stoves, fuel cans, and lanterns can go up on a shelf. 

      While organizing your gear, think about how you’re storing it too. You should store your gear in a cool, dry place, so that mildew doesn’t grow on it. If you’ve got the space, we like to store like items in plastic tubs and label them clearly. This helps us to keep organized, and allows us to see what’s where at a glance. 

      DREAM OF THE NEXT SUMMER’S ACTIVITIES!

      Finally, plan out your adventures for next summer! Now is a great time to start planning where you want to go next and when. If you haven’t made a trip out to Idaho yet, why not come visit us here in Hells Canyon in 2020? We’ve got all of the outdoor adventures you could ever want, including jet boatsATVs, and even helicopter rides!

      HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST HELICOPTER RIDE

      By now, most of us have figured out the rhythm behind taking an airplane ride. Overpay for tickets, get to the airport three hours early, wait in line, wait in another line, sprint to your gate only to wait in yet another line. Board, fly, land.

      But for many, flying in a helicopter is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As such, very few actually have any sense of what flying in a helicopter feels like, let alone how to prepare for a helicopter trip. Killgore Adventures is excited to begin offering helicopter tours! It’s a new addition to our line up of Hells Canyon adventures.

      We want you to enjoy your helicopter tour, so we’ve outlined a few things you should prepare for.

      WHAT TO WEAR

      When it comes to flying in a plane, most people keep it casual and comfy. But flying in a helicopter requires a different outfit. Helicopters do not have pressurized cabins, so one of the first things you’ll notice is that it gets much colder much faster as you ascend. As such, you’ll want to dress in long layers. Depending on what time of year you travel, you might consider bringing a warm jacket, beanie, and gloves. If you’re planning on taking photos in flight, consider dressing in darker colors so they do not reflect off the windows.

      You’ll want to make sure that whatever you wear fits close to your body. Anything flowy, like scarves or dresses, can blow in the air currents caused by the rotors. Avoid things like flip flops, purses, and other things that can get caught on parts of the helicopter.

      TRAVEL LIGHT

      It’s in your best interest to bring as little as you can on your flight. You’ll be allowed to bring things like your camera or phone, but you’ll be advised to leave other personal items in your car before your flight. This is to ensure that you don’t lose anything during the flight, but it’s also to minimize the amount of weight in the helicopter. Extra weight in the cabin can affect the handling of the helicopter and affect fuel efficiency.

      Don’t worry, we’ll outfit you with all of the safety gear you’ll need like safety belts and noise-canceling headphones.

      STAY IN YOUR ASSIGNED SEAT

      This might sound like grade school again, but the seating arrangement in a helicopter is very important. Your pilot will seat you in a specific spot so that the helicopter is balanced properly. Don’t worry if you don’t get to sit right next to your friend, you’ll both be too distracted by the breathtaking views of Hells Canyon to notice the seating arrangement.

      DON’T WORRY ABOUT MOTION SICKNESS

      In a previous blog post, we covered ways you can manage motion sickness while on a jet boat tour and many of those tips apply to helicopter rides as well. We suggest sitting in the front of the helicopter and taking motion sickness medicine before the flight.

      That said, the turbulence you feel while on a helicopter ride is much different from flying on a plane. In fact, you likely won’t feel any turbulence at all. This means you can enjoy every minute of your flight!

      BOOK YOUR HELICOPTER TOUR OF HELLS CANYON TODAY

      And that’s it! The only thing left to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the views. We think that a helicopter ride is one of the most unique experiences you can have! Get a new perspective on the beauty of Idaho and book your helicopter tour with Killgore Adventures today!

      MAKE OUTDOOR TRAVEL EASY WITH THE LAYERING SYSTEM

      Have you ever been caught outside when it starts to rain suddenly? It’s not a great feeling, especially if you don’t have an umbrella or rain jacket to keep you dry. Ever caught a chill while hiking and didn’t have a fleece to warm you back up? 

      Traveling outdoors, be it hiking, ATV tours, or raft trips require us to be a little more cognizant of our wardrobe choices. While in the front country, we might be able to get away with one giant waterproof parka for all of the adverse weather conditions we face, that same system doesn’t work for a hike or a trip down Hells Canyon. Instead, it’s important to use a layering system to ensure we’re prepped and ready for anything. At Killgore Adventures, we’d be selling ourselves short if we said we spent a little bit of time outside. With years of experience, we’ve found that the layering system we’ve outlined below does a great job of keeping us warm, dry, and happy in nearly any weather conditions we might find ourselves in.

      WHY NOT JUST USE ONE LAYER FOR EVERYTHING?

      Take a quick trip through any outdoor outfitter or even a big box store like Walmart, and you’ll see a variety of huge down or synthetic jackets that have every bell and whistle you could think of. While these might be ideal for trips from your front door to your car, they aren’t well suited to outdoor pursuits like backpacking or rafting. Instead, dressing in multiple lighter layers does a better job of keeping you comfortable.

      By dressing in layers that complement each other, you can navigate through a variety of conditions more competently. One large layer, a “one size fits all” approach to dressing for the outdoors, can be heavy, too warm in some conditions, not warm enough in others.

      SO WHAT LAYERS SHOULD YOU PACK?

      We’ll start with our favorite non-answer: It depends. Before you start dragging out every rain jacket, down vest, and wool sweater in your closet for a short day hike, keep a few factors in mind:

      • What time of year are you traveling?
      • What elevation will you be at?
      • What’s the expected weather forecast say?
      • How long will you be out?

      The answers to these questions should start to inform your packing decisions.

      For instance, if you’re doing a simple day hike down a short trail in the Hells Canyon region in the middle of summer, you might just need a simple insulating layer like a fleece and a rain jacket just in case. But if you’re making an alpine ascent of a peak in the Sawtooths in the middle of October, you’ll want a base layer, insulating mid-layer, a hardshell outer layer and other soft goods like beanies, buffs, and gloves.

      Next, let’s take a look which layers are which.

      BASE LAYERS

      Consider this the foundational layers for your outdoor outfits. The base layer should be made from some sort of moisture-wicking material. Merino wool is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts, but so are materials like polyester and nylon. Avoid cotton layers, as they trap moisture. Your base layer can be lightweight, or heavy, depending on the time of year you’re going out. Make smart decisions about what weight of layer is right for your next trip. For instance, don’t pack a summer weight t-shirt as a base layer for your next Everest attempt.

      We’ve found that a long sleeve synthetic shirt makes for a great three-season layer. Made from a material like merino or polyester, the long sleeves protect your skin from the sun in the warmer months, and keep you warm in the cooler months. This is a versatile piece of kit.

      MID LAYERS

      Have you ever opened up an outfitter catalog and seen images of people rocking brightly colored jackets that have the texture of a trash bag? Those are mid-layer jackets, and those are in charge of insulating you from the cold of the outdoors. Like your base layers, you can choose a mid-layer that is constructed from a range of materials, including natural and synthetic. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and which you should wear depends on your expected activities and location. Let’s take a look.

      Fleece jackets are available in a range of fabric weights much like your base layers. Fleece is a great outdoor layer because it stays warm even when it’s damp. It also breathes pretty well, so you won’t get sweaty or overheat while you’re moving. The downside is that because it breathes well, it’s not very wind-resistant. A strong breeze can quickly strip away any of the heat you want to retain. You’ll want a wind shell to keep the wind from chilling your bones.

      Synthetic insulated jackets are increasingly becoming a popular choice among outdoor recreators. The synthetic materials inside the jacket mimic the insulating effects of natural down feathers. For those who travel through wet and rainy conditions regularly, a synthetic material is ideal, as it retains its warmth even when wet. As an added bonus, many synthetic jackets are being constructed from materials that are rain and wind resistant. The downside to synthetics is that they are bulkier and heavier than down jackets. This can be frustrating for those who want a lightweight way to stay warm, or who have limited space in their daypacks.

      Down jackets are easy to pack down and are remarkably warm for the weight. This is thanks to the fill power within the jacket itself. Typically ranging between 450 to 900 down fill, the number rating indicates the density of down inside the jacket. But the lighter weight comes at a cost. Down loses nearly all of its insulating properties when wet, making it a bad choice for those in rainy areas.

      OUTER LAYERS

      Your outer layer is your most rugged layer. This is the shell that keeps you safe from rain, snow, and wind. These layers are typically treated with a water-resistant finish of some kind. These layers are a must for nearly any outdoor expedition, as you’ll never be sure when you might get caught in a storm.

      You’ll find outer layers that are waterproof and layers that are water-resistant. If it sounds like a battle of semantics between the two, that’s not quite the case. Waterproof layers are high-end garments that are what you want if you find yourself in heavy rain or snowstorms on the regular. These won’t wet out the same way a water-resistant layer will. Water-resistant layers, on the other hand, a better suited to the occasional rainstorm. These are made from materials like nylon as opposed to a more specialized fabric like gore-tex.

      A LAYER FOR ALL SEASONS

      Ok, so we understand which layers do what now, but you’re really wondering about which layer you should wear on your next outing. Here are our suggested packing lists for the most common conditions we see here in Hells Canyon. You might need to tweak these lists in order to meet your expected conditions if you’re traveling in other places.

      SUMMERTIME TRAVELS

      Suns out guns outright? Well, if you want a wicked sunburn, sure. For our summertime adventures, we typically rock a two-layer system. We pack something like the following:

      • Long sleeve base layer, preferably with a UPF rating to protect us from the sun.
      • A wind-proof layer to keep us warm on those breezy afternoons.

      This does a great job of keeping us comfy while we traverse the trails that filter in and out of Hells Canyon. 

      BACKPACKING OR “SHOULDER SEASON” TRAVELS

      If you’re going to be out for a longer period during the summer, like an overnight backpacking trip, we’ll pack a fleece layer or insulated jacket, and swap the wind-proof layer for a rain jacket. The insulated jacket is a must when the temps begin to drop during the evenings, and when things are still warming up in the mornings. The same long sleeve shirt stays with us, but we might pack a short sleeve shirt too in case we want something to lounge in camp with. Finally, an outer layer is vital. A waterproof or resistant layer is about the only way you’ll stay dry and comfortable should you get stuck in a rain squall while backpacking.

      This combination of layers is well-suited for conditions from late spring to early fall. Put on and take off these layers as conditions change and you’ll be able to enjoy every minute of your trip.

      WINTER TRAVELS

      Winter in Idaho can be pretty unforgiving. When you’re snowshoeing, backpacking, or even summiting a mountain in the winter, you’ll want more layers in heavier weights. Here’s what we pack when we’re adventuring in the winter.

      • A wool long sleeve base layer
      • A mid-weight fleece layer
      • An insulation layer (down or synthetic)
      • A waterproof, breathable outer layer.

      By using four layers, rather than two or three, you’ll have options to address changes in conditions throughout the day. Additionally, you can add or shed layers should you get hot or cold. We top off our four layers with accessories like a hat or beanie, a buff, and gloves.

      TIPS FOR BUYING THE RIGHT LAYERS

      It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the huge number of options that are available for each layer. For many new outdoor enthusiasts, there’s a tendency to feel like they can’t travel comfortably outside if they don’t have the most high-end or expensive layers. While these pricey layers are certainly of higher quality, that doesn’t mean that more affordable layers aren’t just as capable. You can find cost-effective layers that do their job just as well as the premium layers. You might find that these layers are just not as lightweight or durable as the more expensive options.

      If you’re new to outdoor recreation, we suggest finding cost-effective options that fit well first. If you decide to do more, set aside some money and invest in higher quality options later. You can always wait for outfitters to have sales, or look for second-hand options.

      GO ON A HELLS CANYON ADVENTURE TODAY

      Your bags are packed, your rocking your favorite puffy jacket, and you’re ready to go. But where to go? Why not explore the immense natural beauty of Hells Canyon with Killgore Adventures? We offer a wide variety of adventures to match your restless spirit. From whitewater rafting trips to fishing expeditionsjet boat tours to ATV tours, and much more, we’ve got it all. We even offer jet boat transport services so you can go backpacking in the most remote parts of Hells Canyon. 

      Find out more about our Hells Canyon adventures and book yours today!