IPNF Avalanche Information

Photo of a snowmobilerNational Forests in North Idaho encompass approximately 2.7 million acres which include the Cabinet, Selkirk, St. Joe, Purcell, Coeur d'Alene, and Bitterroot mountain ranges. These mountains are graced with some of the deepest snowfall in the intermountain west. In the winter this translates into an incredible opportunity to explore our snow-laden backcountry. Skiing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are popular forms of winter recreation and there are numerous places to enjoy these activities.


The IPNF Avalanche Center broadcasts a regional weekend avalanche advisory during the winter months. The advisory is compiled to inform backcountry recreationists of the current avalanche conditions. Unless noted otherwise, it is relevant for the entire IPNF for a three-day period, Friday through Sunday. Information for the advisory is obtained from National Weather Service data, SNOTEL sites in the mountains throughout the region, local ski areas (Schweitzer, Silver Mountain, Mt. Spokane, and Lookout Pass), and avalanche forecasters collecting information in the field. All avalanche advisories are available here,  or you can hear the current advisory by calling the forecast center in Coeur d' Alene at (208) 765-7323.


The IPNF also conducts free avalanche awareness classes to groups of individuals, ski and snowmobile clubs, county search and rescue, or other interested parties. Classes cover topics ranging from avalanche dynamics, weather factors, and snowpack to rescue techniques, avalanche beacon practice, and route selection. These classes are meant to serve as an introduction or refresher and are not meant to substitute real training that can be gotten from a certified instructor. For more information on class offerings call Ed Odegaard in Avery at: 208-245-6209, or Kevin Davis in Sandpoint at: 208-265-6686.

When planning your winter trip into our backcountry, don't forget these safety items: shovel, beacon, probe, and KNOWLEDGE.


  • Idaho Panhandle NF: 208-765-7323
  • Lolo & Bitterroot NF: 406-549-4488, 800-281-1030 in Montana
  • Northwest Montana: 406-257-8402, 800-526-5329 in Montana
  • Southwest Montana: 406-587-6981
  • West Yellowstone, MT: 406-646-7912
  • Cooke City, MT: 406-838-2341