When planning a trip to Central Idaho, here are our picks for the best things to do in the area:
1. Ski. Central Idaho is famous for its various ski opportunities. In the southern part of the region, the world’s first ski lift was invented in Sun Valley in 1936, and people have been flocking to the nation’s original destination ski resort ever since. In nearby Fairfield, Soldier Mountain offers a family-friendly ski experience.
For those who prefer cross-country skiing, Sun Valley is an official Olympic training site and is proudly known as “Nordic Town USA.” Nordic skiing is also top-notch on the western side of the region. McCall holds the title of “Ski Town USA” for its five different cross-country ski resorts and more than 500 miles of groomed trails, as well as its terrific alpine skiing at Tamarack Resort and Brundage Mountain — home to the best snow in Idaho.
2. Go whitewater rafting. One of Idaho’s claims to fame (besides potatoes) is that it’s home to more whitewater river miles (3,100) than other state in the country. The famous “River of No Return,” the Middle Fork of the Salmon, runs right through Central Idaho and is popular for week-long rafting trips. Shorter routes in the region include runs on the Main Salmon and different sections of the Payette River.
3. Hike. The hiking options in Central Idaho are expansive and provide some of the most picturesque peaks and alpine lakes you’ll ever see. Much of the region is protected wilderness, so there are lots of places only hikers can reach. Among the most popular and stunning places to hike are the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley and the Seven Devils Mountains west of McCall.
4. Eat local. The locavore movement is really blossoming in the fertile grounds of Central Idaho. Just about every town is home to restaurants featuring locally grown food, as well as weekly farmers markets during the warm-weather months that offer everything from fresh local produce of all kinds to all-natural local beef and farm-raised game like elk and trout.
5. Ride a bike. Both the major resort areas of Ketchum-Sun Valley and McCall are exceptionally bike-friendly communities with plenty of paved paths for bicyclists. Mountain biking in both spots is booming, too, with miles upon miles of single track and downhill options of all kinds.