It’s hard to tell what’s brighter: the clear, blue sky or the children’s smiles.
What IS abundantly clear is that we’re about to embark on a family-friendly adventure straight out of a fairytale. We load onto the horse-drawn sleigh, hot cocoa in hand, ready to glide across the snowy landscape in hopes of getting up close and personal with Idaho elk.
The kids (and more than a few adults) are beside themselves with excitement as we approach the elk. Our guide, a jolly fellow who seems born for this role, explains a bit about them. What they eat. Why they live in herds. How they came to be here.
As the elk come more clearly into sight, all of us on the sleigh fall silent in awe of these majestic creatures.
The silence doesn’t last long. Almost immediately, the kids break into an excited chatter. There are giggles. Ooohs and aahhs.
Our hosts, Hap and Florence Points Sleigh Rides, go to great efforts to ensure both we (their guests) and the elk are comfortable. We get a chance to feed the elk, but only on their terms. We’re gentle. They’re gentle. It’s hard not to feel a connection.
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No wonder the sleigh rides have become an annual tradition for many families. It’s like stepping back in time. The setting along the Gold Fork River feels remote despite being just a short drive from Donnelly, Idaho. And the scenery is breathtaking: snow-covered hills, a rickety (but evidently still functional) barn, and us — a handful of visitors decked out in fleece and camera gear.
It’s almost as if we were part of the scenery. Characters in a Currier and Ives painting set in the Old West. But no, this is just another day of family adventure in Southwest Idaho… a perfect mix of thrills, smiles and hot cocoa.