Idaho is, by and large, an outdoor sportsman’s paradise. The odd shape of this northwestern state encompasses vast wilderness areas, moonlike volcanic landscapes, glacier-made lakes, wild roaring rivers, and ragged Rocky Mountain peaks. The southern region transforms into endless rolling hills of sage-covered high desert and farmland. Idaho is a place where you can truly escape humanity and get one on one with nature.
There is world-class skiing at Sun Valley and days of snowmobiling fun during the long winter months. Summer opens up the mountains of Bitterroot National Forest, America’s largest single wilderness expanse in the lower 48 states, to mountain biking, hiking, and camping. Rivers like the Snake run as hard and fast as any other waterway in the country, while Idaho’s lakes provide calm, scenic spots for fishing and boating.
Skiing is perhaps the most popular thing to do in Idaho, thanks largely to the celebrity draw of Sun Valley. This world-class resort covers two mountains and 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and the town is also a starting point for backcountry skiing and snowshoe adventures via outfitters like Sun Valley Trekking Company who also guide trekking and mountain bike trips in the summer.
In fact, Sun Valley and its neighboring town of Ketchum are bases for much of Idaho’s outdoor adventure. This area is home to all kinds of recreation, from extreme paragliding to llama trekking with Venture Outdoors. Idaho is cowboy country, so there are numerous horseback riding outfitters across the state. Sun Valley Resort Horseman’s Center and Rawhide Outfitters are just two of the well-established firms here.
The trail systems around Ketchum offer miles of single track, dirt road, and easy cruises for biking of all kinds. Sturtevants Mountain Outfitters can guide you all around the Sun Valley region, while Sawtooth Mountain Guides cover other wilderness regions in the Sawtooths and Bitterroots.
In the fall, hunting is the main sport in Idaho and sharpshooters from all around the country flock to the wilds of Idaho to hunt everything from elk and deer to turkey and bear. The state is one of the best in America for serious tracking, whether it’s by bow or gun. Dozens of outfitters run guided hunting excursions such as Elk Springs Outfitters in McCall and Heaven’s Gate Outfitters in Riggins. Big game is usually on the menu, and local outfitters handle all necessary licensing.
The golfing during Idaho’s summers and fall are equally sublime. Alpine courses at Sun Valley Resort and Jug Mountain Ranch combine challenge with incredible scenery on every hole. You can arrange your own tee times and rentals with ease, especially by using the concierges at the Idaho Golf Trail Reservations Center.
Idaho also boasts more whitewater rapids than any other state in America, with 3,000 miles of Class I to V to play in. The rafting and kayaking season runs from April to November and features some big name rivers like the Payette, the Snake, and the Middle Fork Salmon. Hells Canyon Raft and Idaho River Adventures are just two professional crews guiding the state’s rivers.
There are 19,000 miles of trails in Idaho open to hiking, biking, and Nordic skiing. Bitterroot National Park has 1.6 million acres alone of wilderness for unmatched things to do. There are plenty casual day hikes, peak climbs, and overnight backpacking trips to match the week-long adventures offered by guide services like White Cloud Outfitters.