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Posts Tagged ‘Idaho’

When year-round recreation meets picturesque views, you’ve arrived in Stanley, Idaho. This is Sawtooth Mountain country, Stanley’s most deserved accolade.

As a last chance opportunity to vacation before the next semester of school began, Stanley was our trip of choice for fresh powder, outdoor recreation and evenings of pleasant relaxation. The roads were perfectly clear as we drove up Highway 21. When a front wheel drive Toyota can make it up to Stanley in mid January, I give my thanks to the local world-class experts in snow plowing (there has to be a 4-year degree for that)!

My girlfriend and I arrived at the Sawtooth Hotel around 3:00 pm. Constructed in 1931, this vintage log cabin with a priceless view of the Sawtooth Mountains, had the most harmonious feeling. On the first floor, hand-built tables and chairs set the stage for an authentic getaway. On the second floor, we found small rooms with old fashioned amenities that make you feel like you are spending the night at grandma’s house. During the winter, the Sawtooth Hotel is open Friday through Sunday for meals. Expect to see mountain aficionados bundled up in ski pants, Salomon boots and Patagonia jackets stopping by for hot food and a cold drink after a long day of skiing.

As the sun set, we made our way up Wall Street in downtown Stanley and walked along the groomed cross country ski and snowmobile trails. The sun set behind the Sawtooth Mountains, lighting the white snow caps with a fiery glow,  like a volcano was about to erupt.

The next morning we set our sights on the pristine cross country ski trails at Alturas Lake just 20 short miles south of Stanley. Beautiful blue skies, groomed trails and untouched snow (for the backcountry folk) made for an exemplary time. Multiple maps allow plenty of variety and direction throughout the trail system. Our four-hour, 13 kilometer cross country adventure afforded immaculate views and world class photo opportunities, and won’t soon be forgotten.

On our way back from Alturas Lake we stopped along Highway 75 at Red Fish Lake. The road was closed, but that didn’t stop us. With snowshoes on and a camera across my shoulder, we walked the short mile to Little Red Fish Lake. We cut through what looked like an abandoned campsite (campsites are closed in the winter) and just as we arrived at the lake, the clouds dispersed as the sun illuminated the sky, exposing the mountains as though hidden behind large castle walls for hundreds of years.

Rounding out our perfect day with the perfect evening, we returned to the Sawtooth Hotel for a refreshing brew and signature burger that really hit the spot. The next time you’re looking for a recreational paradise with beautiful sights, stop in Stanley to satisfy your outdoor cravings.

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As noted in an earlier post, I had the opportunity to spend a few days recreating in and around Wallace in northern Idaho. After flying down the ski slopes, soaring along the snowmobiling paths and zooming around single-track mountain bike trails, be sure to cool your jets with a trip to the beautiful town of historic Wallace where the local history, quenching brews and delightful eats will give you a full-body experience of what makes this mining town a hidden treasure.
As a buy local type of guy, I look forward to the local digs that only small towns can offer. To my pleasant surprise, there are two outstanding breweries in Wallace. Walking down the well-known Bank Street, just down the road from the center of the universe, I noticed large brew kettles (coppers as they say in the “biz”) through the glass windows.
Wallace Brewery, a three year old brewery that prides itself on keeping the history of its beer relevant to Wallace. Rumor has it that there were a handful of extra special women who worked in the Bordellos during the early 1900s. Therefore, the coppers include scandalous names like Stella and Roxy to signify the different types of beer being brewed. Also in spirit of the bordellos and mining history they’ve named their beers as such; Dirty Blonde, Jackleg Stout, and Orehouse Amber to give each drink an extra special feel to historic Wallace.
I also visited the North Idaho Mountain Brew on the opposite side of town. Established in 2008, North Idaho Mountain Brew finally brought a dream to reality after years of home brewing in Alaska. They have five brewed delights on tap that relate to Northern Idaho including Mountain Top Amber, Summit Gold and Loft Honey, which have significance to the local ski resorts. Both breweries have their beer in pubs across Northern Idaho and are host to several home brew get-togethers; stop in for a sampler (bring in some of your own personal masterpiece to share) and please your taste buds with these flavorful beers!
My final hours in Wallace took me through the south side of town. When looking for the finest local breads, cakes, and espressos look no further than D&G Bakery for a fresh home cooked treasure (as if your mom was in the kitchen). After finishing a mouth watering chocolate chip cookie I made my way down 5th street where an invigorating scent filled the air. A large, old fashioned smoker sits outside the Smoke House BBQ and Saloon to bring in empty stomach’s looking to combine the sweet aroma with their barbecued entrees. If not to delight in the food, be sure to jump inside for a beer and admire the history within the building. In 1980, artist John Hart painted a 100 foot wildlife mural on the back wall and is said to have been compensated with beer for this work; sounds like a great deal to me!
With the sun going down, creating a beautiful sunset glowing over the hills it was time to grab dinner at the 1313 club, a local bar and restaurant. Uniquely enough, its name came in two fashions: first, its original bar was 13 feet high by 13 feet wide and secondly, being the 13th bar in Wallace it needed a snazzier name than “The 13th bar”. The 1313 club serves the local brews of Wallace and has a large menu to satisfy anyones appetite. Great food, fun atmosphere, and the historic nature of the restaurant will speak for itself.
Don’t miss the opportunity to venture around the small town (4 blocks long by 9 blocks wide) of historic Wallace. While I only had the opportunity to spend one full-day and visit a select few breweries, stores and restaurants, there are many other hidden treasures in town that I look forward to visiting on my next trip to historic Wallace.

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KetchumSun Valley, a concentrated city full of health enthusiasts and fitness gurus looking for their next hill to climb, mountain to ski or terrain to ride. If I’m speaking to you, listen up! Look no further than the Sawtooth Mountain country for your next adventure to fill your outdoor recreation appetite.
Assuming you’re already fit from the fall season – trail running, road biking and mountain bike riding, it’s time to get your winter fix! Winter in Stanley and the surrounding areas can offer you exactly what you’re looking for and more. Take your skis, snowshoes, and packs for a weekend of exercise and activities that will leave you wanting to soak in the hot springs with a cold one. With hundreds of miles of trails from Smiley Creek to Lowman you will be amazed by the endless opportunities to venture off into the white powder paradise. From perfectly groomed trails for classic cross country, skate and downhill skiing to snowshoeing into untouched backcountry, the Sawtooth Mountain country has it all. Or, if you have an engine revving, adventuresome need for speed then try out the endless first class snowmobiling trails to get the heart rate flowing.
For those who just want a weekend away in the beautiful world of winter, getting your exercise couldn’t be more picturesque. It may be taking a leisurely ski trip into the wilderness of Alturas Lake, walking amongst the Sawtooth Mountains, having a picnic along Little Red Fish Lake, taking pictures of the White Cloud Mountains or sitting in the Stanley hot springs – you’ll find it all within the Sawtooth Mountain country.
What about summer, you ask? Summer in the Sawtooth Mountains means unlimited health wellness and fitness, both for the mind and body. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, trail running, climbing, rafting, walking through history, camping, listening to live music or birdwatching – you’ve come to the right place. Summer in the Sawtooth Mountains epitomizes what it means to have endless recreational opportunity beginning when the sun rises until the sun sets, and even then the night is young for those creative individuals that strap on the headlamp and head into the wilderness.
Want to learn more about how the Sawtooth Mountains can help you to stay healthy and fit?  Visit www.stanleycc.org and visitidaho.org for all of the details.

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Where’s Waldo? You all remember him, the mystery man wearing a camouflage type red and white sweater, matching hat and blue pants. I took a trip to a small, quaint historic town in Northern Idaho where many people would ask, where’s Wallace?
Wallace, Idaho home to a mere 784 people and a long-standing history is a priceless experience just off I-90. After arriving at the Wallace Inn I immediately felt something special about the town, but I couldn’t quite grasp what it was until I explored the town. It was like an episode of Cheers, where everyone knew my name! Well, not quite, no one knew my name, but locals acted like we’d been neighbors for years. More captivating than the people in the town is the history that surrounds it. The rich history in Wallace of mining led to the building of 13 bars and 13 churches – so you knew exactly where everyone was on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Until 1988 when the last one closed, there were five bordellos in town to accompany the lifestyles of the lead, copper and silver miners. So if you see small huts (usually about five in a row) or extremely steep stair cases covered from the street to the second story as you’re walking through town, you know you’re in the midst of some Wallace bordello history. Unfortunately, the Oasis Bordello Museum is currently closed from October to April, but if you have the opportunity to see this during the open months it’s an absolute must see.
Beyond the history, outdoor enthusiasts have every reason to be excited about this small town in the Idaho Panhandle. Whether you’re into skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months or mountain biking and trail running in the summer, Wallace is your receipt for everything recreation. Two pristine mountains, Silver Mountain and Lookout Mountain during the winter months are both within 10 miles of Wallace and hundreds of miles of road and trail riding for the warmer days, including five nationally recognized trails (Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes, Northern Pacific, Route of the Hiawatha, Milwaukee Scenic and Centennial Trail) ideal for anyone’s needs.
During my time in Wallace, I took the mere 10 mile drive to the border of Idaho and Montana at what many would call a perfect day on Lookout Mountain. Sun shining and fresh powder all in 30 degree weather, hello paradise! For the first time I experienced the adventuresome aspect of snow-shoeing. After riding up the main lift I ventured down the backside of the mountain through the trees and untouched snow. Everything about the mountain and three hours of snow-shoeing epitomized what it felt like to find a hidden mountain secret. After seeing endless lifts with short lines and beautifully groomed runs I look forward to my next trip to truly take advantage of the slopes and experience what if feels like to be a “local” with the mountain all to myself!
Wallace, Idaho, a place you’ve probably never heard of, but a place you’ll never forget. Be sure to visit the Wallace Mining Museum & Visitor Center before you leave for fun facts, cool sights and endless information about the unique town of Historic Wallace.

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The beauty that arises on an early fall morning – don’t blink, you’ll miss it!

Boise, ID – Julia Davis Park

Boise, ID – Boise River

Boise, ID – Boise River

Fall lasts about…that long. Leaves change, cool breeze in the air, endure the beauty that nature can bring.

Kathryn Albertson Park – Boise, ID

Kathryn Albertson Park – Boise, ID

Kathryn Albertson Park – Boise, ID

Ann Morrison Park – Boise, ID

Kathryn Albertson Park – Boise, ID

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As a recreational fanatic and travel enthusiast, I could hardly wait to see the sights and scenery that would take place over the weekend while I helped escort some Taiwanese journalists who were being hosted by the Idaho Division of Tourism.

Heading southeast to the Magic Valley, we arrived at Shoshone Falls “The Niagara of the West.” The water was ripping and roaring from all directions as it fell 200ft crushing the area below before flattening out in the Snake River Valley. We then drove a quarter mile further up the road to Dierkes Lake. Used by a younger, family-oriented crowd, cliff jumping, swimming, lounging, and playground enjoyment filled the secluded area with smiles and enjoyment.

Our next adventure took us about 50 miles north to the Shoshone Ice Caves. A small, remote location just off Hwy 75 was a gratifying stop. As the only ice cave in Idaho, the original ice allowed the Shoshone to advertise their beer as “ice cold” – the first in the world in the early 1900s, so they claim – bringing 22 saloons to town along with world-wide bragging rights.

Heading further north we arrived in Ketchum-Sun Valley. Surrounded by mountainous scenery, this resort town is famous for dining, mountains, recreation and unique amenities. Captivating the imaginations of skiers in the winter and avid mountain bikers in the summer, Bald Mountain and the surrounding foothills make this a world-class outdoorsmen’s fantasy.

Leaving Ketchum-Sun Valley immediately placed us on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway and every corner seemed to be one breathtaking view after another. Our first jaw dropping sight took us just over Galena Summit, overlooking the start of the Salmon River and stunning Sawtooth Mountains. A very popular and gratifying climb for recreation, we saw many cyclists heading up during our descent as they winced with every pedal stroke up the steep mountain.

Continuing on we arrived at Red Fish Lake, a place I had only imagined through pictures I’d seen. This spectacular area is a picturesque location that belongs on the cover of National Geographic Magazine. Whether you are camping, fishing, hiking, boating, swimming or just admiring the sun glistening off the lake, Red Fish Lake is a priceless attraction.

Our next voyage took us through Stanley and onto the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. Awe-inspiring views were apparent as we started climbing to heightened elevations overlooking mountains and valleys. In the midst of the descent through the Scenic Byway be sure to stop at the Kirkham Hot Springs. The Taiwanese journalists were especially surprised by the fact that the hot springs are all natural, taking pictures of the hot springs and water streaming over the rock overhangs and down the river.

Continuing southwest down Hwy 21, we made a quick stop in Idaho City. The small, country-western partial ghost town, with American size ice cream scoops at Donna’s Place put sweet frozen smiles on our faces.

Making our final travels back into Boise we are impressed by the sights and sounds of Lucky Peak State Park. On the north side we passed boats pulling wake boarders across the calm waters and on the south side streams of water were forcefully pressed out into the lower lake from the dam above.

I’m amazed by the mystery that was lying around every corner of this trip. Whether you enjoy wild life, camping, recreation, site seeing, and everything in between, this part of Idaho will blow your mind!

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