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Road Tripping Idaho USA

Part One of a Three Part Road Tripping Series

Location: McCall & Sun Valley Idaho, USA

Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Idaho USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the first installment of three part series of our road trip adventures.

Hiking in Idaho
Hiking was at the top of our list for our road trip activities

Road Warriors

I should start by telling those of you who don’t know, that we have visited all fifty states. Yes, in addition to the 110 countries we have visited we can also claim to have visited all fifty states. Admittedly I am a bit of an overachiever (insert eye roll).

But point of clarification – the way we accomplished this momentous task is by…wait for it…ROAD TRIPPING! Yep, it’s really the only way to visit all 50 states, and over the past twenty-eight years we have traversed the entire country on six separate road trips. Our first road trip was in 1992 when we drove from Washington State to Washington DC. So our Road tripping Idaho USA begins our sixth USA road trip.

Idaho Deer
Rural Idaho offers a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities

Road Tripping in the Time of The “C” Word

That inconvenient virus has made every aspect of our lives a struggle, including a summer road trip. We planned a socially distanced itinerary and were able to pull it off by planning ahead, traveling with cleaning supplies and wearing our masks. We spent multiple days in Idaho, Colorado and Oregon.

Way to go Idaho

Given that Idaho is the neighbor to my home state of Washington you’d think I would have spent more time there. But not so much. I’ve visited the panhandle multiple times, and the city of Boise, but on this trip I really wanted to see more of the mountains in the south so that’s what we set out to do.

Reflexion in Lake
Beautiful Twin Lakes, a four mile easy round trip hike in McCall

We drove our first day to Spokane, still in Washington State but right on the border with Idaho. We spent a fun evening with my husband’s brother and his wife, before making an early morning escape under the cover of darkness. Today’s drive was about six hours to McCall Idaho (crossing into Mountain time zone), home to Payette Lake, Brundage Mountain and beautiful scenery.

We spent our first day in McCall enjoying the company of dear old friends who have retired to this gorgeous area. It’s not hard to see why they would choose it. Everything you might want is here; hot dry summers, cold dry winters, hiking, biking, boating, skiing, great dining and beer. Wow.

Wildflowers in Idaho
Abundant wildflowers at Twin Lakes

Day two in McCall we did two easy hikes. First we hiked to Twin Lakes, an easy four mile round trip suitable for just about anyone. It was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. We had gotten an early start and found the trail and the lake deserted, except for a lone fisherman…perfect. The views were like a postcard…actually better!

Next we went to the Brundage Ski Area very popular in the summer for mountain bikers. We had a delicious lunch (socially distanced outdoors) on the deck of the lodge before riding the chair lift ($15) up to the top of the mountain. Here we could see all the way back to McCall and Payette Lake and well beyond. The chair lift ticket includes a round trip, but we hiked the 4 mile cat track back down to the lodge, enjoying a wide variety of wildflowers and bird life, and only a handful of other people.

Chair lift at Brundage
Masked up for the chairlift ride at Brundage Ski Area

We spent our two nights in McCall in a tiny little cabin a block from the lake. Teeny kitchen and bath, a comfy bed and a fireplace make this place cozy and perfect for a few days winter or summer. We also enjoyed sitting around the campfire in the evening. See it here.

Payette Lake
Payette Lake is a dream for boating and water sports

Day four we exited early, heading south to the famous Sun Valley region. We had never visited Sun Valley and it had been on my list for a long time. Sun Valley is made up of several towns, and several ski areas. The best known town is Ketchum. We stayed in Hailey, about five miles outside of Ketchum (another peaceful and exceptionally well kept Airbnb. See it here).

Sun Valley Ski Resort view
You can see forever from the top of Sun Valley Ski Resort

Our first day in the valley we took the gondola at Sun Valley Ski Resort up to the top of the mountain ($25). The weather was clear and warm and you could see for a hundred miles. We had an outdoor socially distanced meal at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum and explored some of the local microbrews.

Ketchum Idaho
A great view from the outdoor patio at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum

Day two in the valley I enjoyed a long morning run on the Wood River trail that runs for 15+ miles all along the valley. Next we took a short hike on a nature trail near our Airbnb along the Wood River. We finished our day playing nine holes of golf at the beautiful Elk Horn Golf Course. Sun Valley is peppered with golf courses…wish we had been able to check out a few more – next time!

Elk Horn Golf
A beautiful golf course, Elk Horn in Sun Valley

Feeling Safe in Idaho

Idaho has a population of 1.75 million and ranks 35th in the USA for virus infections with just over 28,000 (Source Statista as of August 19th). In both McCall and the Sun Valley area we found people wearing masks in all stores and restaurants and many people wearing masks on the sidewalks in town. Idaho was dead last in the USA for cases until mid-June when virus cases began to rise.

Sawtooth Mountains
Mountains Majesty – the Sawtooth Mountains

We made a point to keep distanced, choose activities where we could easily stay away from crowds, and we enjoyed our road trip in Idaho. It really is an underrated gem in the United States. Now I want to go back in the winter. Road tripping Idaho USA filled our goals.

Join us next week for our Colorado installment of Road Tripping USA.

See our road trip to Montana from Summer 2019.

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  • Reply Ashlee

    This is a great post. I am planning a road trip and will certainly come back to this post. Thanks!

    August 21, 2020 at 7:05 am
  • Reply Rach

    This looks like so much fun! I’ve been on the fence about doing a big road trip right now, but this makes me think it’s not a bad idea! =) Thank you!

    August 21, 2020 at 8:22 am
  • Reply Alison

    This sounds like such a wonderful – and safe – getaway. I’ve not been to Idaho, but you make it sound very enticing – all those mountains and hiking. Just that’s enough to keep me happy. It sounds like it kept you happy too 🙂

    August 22, 2020 at 11:51 am
  • Reply Janey

    Loving going along on your trips! Gives me just a lil tad of feeling like “I’m” traveling again. If I don’t get on a plane again soon….I’m going to lose it. Big Time.
    I did do the Spokane-McCall drive and it was gorgeous!!!

    August 23, 2020 at 6:59 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Great! Thanks so much!

      August 28, 2020 at 11:16 am

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