Let’s Go to Idaho

The Snake River Canyon golf view while dining at Elevations 486

Rugged mountain terrain in Idaho gives way to forested hills and fertile valleys with lakes, rivers and fresh air for a special reprieve from our summer heat. Unique topography and geology make road tripping fun throughout the state. The Snake River slithers through the bustling capital of Boise originating from Wyoming and flowing westerly to Twin Falls. There it separates two pristine courses 486 feet deep in the Snake River Canyon bottom. Elevations 486 restaurant perches above for a dramatic view and sumptuous menu with fresh trout. The golf course at the casual Clear Lake Country Club routes along the Snake River and local trout farm with cliff views of the aquifer from every hole. Down river, Evil Knievel attempted to rocket over the ¾ mile ravine near Shoshone Falls where not only the sun shone but a bright rainbow arched above kissing the heavy mist from the raging, wide waterfall. https://visitsouthidaho.com/

In a single afternoon in Boise while driving through, we packed a lot in, beginning with a riverside lunch at the Sandbar Patio and Grill with live music. This was the Boise River we strolled along to discover surfers tackling a river cascade and more aqua lovers streaming into the adjacent water park. We zoomed around downtown by the iconic capitol building passing partiers on the Pedal and Pints, a 15-passenger pedal bar that tours downtown pubs. The recommended farmer’s market was filled with fresh veggies, fruits, meats, local crafts and restaurants lining the streets. 

Our next trip this month will cover Northern Idaho, home to Coeur d’Alene Resort (CDA), famous for its 15k square foot floating island green, where we will spend a few nights. We’ll fly into Spokane airport, just 40 minutes away and rent a car. Not only is the golf superb at CDA, but the renovated rooms are upscale with cotton robes and selective water views. Memorial weekend features a clambake at the lake and scenic cruises are offered any day, as are kayak and paddleboard rentals. We’ll hike Tubbs Hill where a hammock swings at the top with a rewarding view below. The Mission of the Sacred Heart is nearby along with shops and galleries. Lakeside massage and therapy treatments are enhanced by water in many ways, making the Coeur d’Alene Resort Spa one of the world’s most romantic. https://www.cdaresort.com/

To double down on the golf and spa experience we will stay next at the Circling Raven Golf Club, 30 minutes south of Coeur d’Alene in Worley. A morning round of golf on Circling Raven will be followed by luxuriating in Spa Ssakwa’q’n (we didn’t know we’d be learning a new language) in the afternoon. https://www.cdacasino.com/golf/

The road trip then stops in Moscow (1.5-hour drive), home of the University of Idaho Golf Club, a value priced golf venue with panoramic views of the Palouse hills. We’ll lunch at the Breakfast Club downtown, a local hot spot known for their Vandal Pepper Sauce, before touring with Latah County Historical Society and then bike the Latah Trail. We must decide if we pedal traditionally or cheat with the electronically powered E-bikes. That will make it time for wine at Colter Creek ‘s downtown tasting room. They provide magnum refill bottles for their reds and whites made from their estate vineyards using sustainable processes. Dinner will be at Maialina Pizzeria Napolitana where the Fava bean dish photo looks like one which we loved in Puglia, Italy. We’ll be ready to bunk down at the Renaissance Monarch Centre Hotel with a pretty skyline view or the BW Plus University Inn on the new Palouse Golf Course. Golf packages in Moscow include 5 different courses within 30 minutes.

We may tour the colorful U of  I Arboretum next morning before heading to Lewiston with a stop at Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spalding and lunch at Mystic Café. Sommelier certifications combine with locally sourced goodness. Idaho is not just for taters you know. Rivers provide irrigation for fields of sweet beets, asparagus and peas, not to mention the lamb, beef and fresh water fish that are raised. https://visitidaho.org/  

In addition to scenic golf, Idaho has experiences you might not know should be on your bucket list, such as a wet and wild jet boat trip to Hell’s Canyon. Lewiston is the entrance to Hell’s Canyon, the deepest in the country and there are several companies making the trip each day. We’ll stay at the newly renovated Red Lion Hotel, which also offers golf packages and is conveniently located for exploration of the great outdoors and boutique wineries. While some consider the region a newer wine growing area, grapes were introduced into the Clearwater Valley by 1872. The surrounding Lewis Clark Valley is the newest designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Idaho and Washington. Boutique wineries such as Clearwater Canyon Cellars produce eclectic reds and a few surprising whites. https://visitlcvalley.com/

The entire town of Wallace is on the national Historic Register. Here we are advised is another bucket list item – biking or hiking the Hiawatha Trail, a very scenic 15-mile route of a former railway with 10 train tunnels and 7 sky high trestles, all downhill. Wheee!  This will be our mulligan for a future trip since we must journey north to Sandpoint, our portal to the Canadian Rockies. http://www.wallaceidahochamber.com/

In Sandpoint we will golf at the only Jack Nicklaus Signature course in the state, the Idaho Club. The course meanders around the Lower Pack River and offers unobstructed views of awe-inspiring nature at its finest, from the Moose Mountain backdrops to shimmering reflections on Lake Pend Oreille. We’ll spend a day on Lake Pend Oreille, pronounced “Pond O Ray”. It’s part of our continuing, “Love the lake you’re with tour”. We’ll set sail on a cruise while others might take speedy jet ski excursions or paddle boards and kayaks. Sandpoint Resort is a world class snow skiing retreat by winter with water activities designed for families seeking outdoor adventures spring to fall. We’ll be on a moose pursuit since their population exceeds 10,000, though they aren’t very social. We would be lucky to spy one while hiking, ziplining, fishing, horseback riding or biking. Bears and mountain goats are more likely, and deer and elk sightings are nearly guaranteed. Cameras will be ready. http://visitsandpoint.com/

It has been our honor to write the travel column for Arizona Golfer and Nancy Howard. We wish her happy travels as she moves on after 27+ years publishing this magazine, what a run! And, we wish her much love!

Alice and Danny Scott are known as America’s Golfing Couple and travel the world writing for many publications. Visit their website at www.americasgolfingcouple.com.