Thursday, November 14, 2013

Idaho's Top Ten Outdoor Activities

Outdoor activities are plentiful in Idaho. To residents and visitors alike, Idaho is like a big backyard. A vast, year-round playground for adults and children. But, which activities rank as the top ten favorites? Based on personal observations, and not in any particular order, here they are:FishingFor some, fishing means trolling for sizeable lake trout in waters like Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille. For others, tracking down the huge, prehistoric sturgeon in the Snake River is great angling. And, fly fishermen, using insect imitations, ply Idaho's famous blue ribbon streams for the coveted brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout.HuntingIdaho has some of the finest hunting in the Western United States. There are trophy moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat, plus mule deer and whitetails, as well as elk and antelope. Hunters can also find black bear and mountain lions, along with turkeys, upland birds and waterfowl.Winter SportsIf you love winter's snow, downhill skiing leads the Idaho list, with snowboarding and snow tubing gaining popularity each year. Nordic-style cross-country skiing is almost a way of life, and snowshoeing could not be better. Snowmobiling is also quite popular. Groomed trails await, or make your own tracks! In addition, ice skating and ice fishing are both favorite winter activities for many.HikingHiking trails of varying difficulty can be found throughout the state. There are trails of under a mile on up to the famed Idaho State Centennial Trail, a 1,200-mile Mother of All Trails that extends the entire length of Idaho from the Canadian border to Nevada! In all, some 19,000 miles of trails for the hiker, backpacker and trekker are available all around the state.CampingWhether your camping style is in a luxurious motor home or a simple, canvas tent, Idaho offers hundreds of maintained campgrounds as a base camp for outdoor activities. Most are located at or close to popular recreation areas and the state's varied scenic highlights. These public campgrounds are operated and managed by federal and state government agencies.History RewindMany travelers enjoy walking in the footsteps of Idaho's early movers and shakers. The American Indian thrived for centuries in much of the state and courageous explorers and daring pioneers left their mark on the terrain. One can observe the path taken by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they searched for a new overland route to the Pacific Ocean. Wagon wheel ruts still found in the rugged Idaho terrain tell a story of the hardships encountered by those who defied odds heading west on the California and Oregon Trails.FloatingFrom the sheer terror of whitewater one can experience on Idaho's famous river runs to serenely bobbing along in an inner tube on the Boise River at Boise, the state's 3,100 miles of navigable rivers become memories for many adventurers each year. Rafting, kayaking, canoeing, tubing and jet boating are satisfying outdoor activities you are sure to enjoy.BoatingIdaho boasts over 2,000 lakes and reservoirs for your boating pleasure. Some are quite large. For example, Coeur d'Alene Lake, known as the most beautiful alpine lake in the U.S., is over 25 miles long with more than 120 miles of shoreline. Great boating. About 250 miles to the south, popular Dworshak Reservoir is a 53-mile long impound of the Clearwater River. Great boating. In southeastern Idaho, near Pocatello, one can spend quality boating time at American Falls, a 56.000-acre reservoir on the Snake River.BikingBike Idaho! There are 19,000 miles of trails. Mountain biking trails. Trails along desert back roads. Trails along rivers, and trails in most urban areas throughout the state. A big favorite with many is the Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail, an easy-grade, 17-mile long abandoned rail-bed, now paved for biking. This trail, near Wallace, passes through nine tunnels, around a closed tunnel, over seven high trestles, past waterfalls, with amazing vistas and interpretive signs along the way.MiscellanyMore specialized outdoor activities are found all over Idaho. Horseback riding is a favorite, as is landscape photography, wildlife and bird watching, golfing, swimming, water skiing, wind surfing, spelunking, rock climbing and the search for wildflowers, mushrooms and wild berries.You will never run out of fun outdoor activities when you visit Idaho!