Idaho: At Play in the Land o' Plenty

Forget the potatoes. The Gem State is America's secret multisport Mecca.
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Idaho, Horseback Riding, Hidden Creek Ranch
Cowboys the Idaho way: Hidden Creek Ranch. (Tim Neville)

Idaho is the least-visited of the Rocky Mountain states, even though it's the only one entirely covered by the range's rugged terrain. To some this may be a deterrent. But to Tim Neville, the dearth of people, combined with a dizzying amount of barely explored wilderness (second only to Alaska), meant that there would be little to get in the way of his 12-day road trip across the state. While he spent a good chunk of time clipped into his telemark skis, Tim did find time to venture off the resort circuit long enough to pinpoint a slew of other wintertime attractions and activities that will make even the most jaded of multisport maniacs start searching for the cheapest one-way ticket to Boise.

The Hidden Creek Ranch
Near Harrison, about 33 miles south of Coeur d’Alene, lies the Hidden Creek Ranch, a sprawling complex of cozy wood cabins, stables, and an airy fir lodge surrounded by a whopping 350 square miles of mountainous national forest land. Owners John Muir (this one has a passion for the wilderness, too) and Iris Behr, an affable naturalist, gutted nearly all the buildings on the property when they bought the property 11 years ago, turning the place into a rustic-but-luxurious dude ranch with an herbal remedy twist. (Both John and Iris have completed numerous courses at Tom Brown’s famous tracking school.) Be sure to wrangle up Elaine Steele, a riding instructor with an infectious enthusiasm for horses, who’ll saddle you up on a horse and take you on rides like the “Intro Trail.” Along this ride—and there are dozens more like it—you’ll get awesome views of lakes, valleys, and mountains, before dropping back down to the ranch. (Rumor has it that the horse named Commander is everyone’s favorite.) Riding in the winter is particularly rewarding—heading up into the hills just after a snowstorm means bottomless silence and rugged beauty the likes of which you probably won’t find back home. If there’s too much snow, you can always head out on the trails with snowshoes. When it’s time to kick back, hit the outdoor hot tub before dinner—hearty meals of pasta, shrimp, and stuffed mushrooms, served in the lodge’s main room. Head upstairs and check out the diorama of the property and you’ll see that even if you had a full month here, there’s no way you’ll ever explore it all. (Hidden Creek Ranch: 800-446-3833; www.hiddencreek.com; $762 per person per night for two nights; $1,313 per person per night for four nights)


Published: 14 Jan 2004 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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