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'We'd love to keep this place secret': Why southern Idaho's Camas Prairie provides perfect conditions for snowkiting

Looking to avoid the crowds on the ski hill? Snowkiting uses the wind - not gravity - to move you. And there's plenty of room to move around on the Camas Prairie between Mountain Home and Fairfield.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — In the world of snowkiting, it doesn't get much better than southern Idaho's Camas Prairie.

The high desert plain nestled between Mountain Home and Fairfield provides the ideal conditions for this wind-powered sport: 5,000 feet in elevation with gentle, rolling hills and wide open spaces.

Perhaps most importantly, there is also plenty of snow (in the winter) and just the right amount of wind.

"I get out there and just look at the mountains and I just take a deep breath and say, 'my private Idaho,' because it's just beautiful," Laura Patranek said.

With a combined sensation of flying and gliding across the snow, snowkiting blends the sports of snowboarding and kitesurfing.

It's a way to get moving on a snowboard —  without going to a ski hill.

"The sensation of jumping, ah, it's amazing," Eddy Petranek said. "It's a hard feeling to beat. When it just really lifts you up high and then you're dangling there."

Eddy and Laura Petranek have been snowkiting for years.

"Our second date was snowkiting," Laura said. "I instantly got hooked."

The high-desert prairie off of US Highway 20 in south-central Idaho provides the perfect setting for a snowkiting excursion.

"It's 10 miles this way, 70 miles this way of amazing terrain," Eddy explained. "In good snow conditions, you can take this all the way to Craters of the Moon [National Monument]."

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It's a free ticket to ride with no chairlifts and no crowds.

"We'd love to keep this place secret," Eddy said. "But it's huge. There's lots of room for lots of people. We get people that have come here from all over the country.

"Texas to Florida to the East Coast," he added. "California guys come here all the time. People from Portland will come just to play here."

From cruising across the prairie to doing tricks in the air, the kite does all the work.

"All you're doing is edging against it to pull away and guide the board in the direction you want to go," Eddy explained. "There is a little bit of finesse in keeping the kite in the right spot and making it pull correctly, but generally it's fairly easy.

"You're not worried about wiping out," he added. "You just slide through the powder."

And it's a ride the entire family can enjoy.

"When the kids got old enough, we knew we wanted to share this experience with them," Laura said. "So it's that much more fun for us."