I know there are a few campers and outdoor enthusiasts around so I will share an awesome spot I enjoyed a couple of weeks ago: Idaho, Lake Cascade outside of Donnelly to be precise.
Located about 100 mile north of Boise, Lake Cascade is located on the North Fork of the Payette River in Valley County, Idaho. The valley is located in the Boise National Forest. The valley floor is wide with gentle rolling grassland with Lake Cascade in the southeast area and Payette Lake and the Salmon river to the north, with the Payette River running through the valley. The surrounding hills and mountains forming the valley are covered in dense pine forest. The town of Cascade is on the south end (pop I,000), Donnelly in the eastern center (pop 138) and McCall (pop 3000) in the north on the shore of Lake Payette.
It is a beautiful area with the lakes and rivers and the valley has ranches and various deer and elk farms. The cattle ranches are not the dusty stinky type that may come to mind, the are open range ranches on vast rolling fields of grasslands, black angus, with a few red sprinkled in, cattle roam huge fields and meadows.
We stayed in one of the many campsites around Lake Cascade, both trailer and tent camping are permitted but not all campsites have full hookups so check before you book, almost all have boat launches. We stayed on the east bank of the lake, right on the water with the forest to our backs. A very relaxing week of just camping, swimming, hiking and drinking beer around the campfire.
All sort of boating is allowed on Lake Cacascade, not to mention fishing, and you can rent all sorts of water craft up in the town McCall. There are 3 golf courses in the area and some really great hiking trails. River rafting and horseback riding can be had as well.
This location is also a winter destination with two major ski resorts and over 600 miles of groomed snow mobile trails. If you are into cross country skiing, snow shoeing or snow mountain biking you can get that too. Hunting can also be done in the winter.
The town of McCall, about 15 minutes north of Donnelly, was cool little town with a resort feel. Plenty of places to eat or grab a drink, cool shops and a cool ice rink (a little more on that in a bit).
There are three breweries in town and I can vouch for two of them: Mcall Brewing Company and the Salmon River Brewery. Both had great grub and brew, both different enough from each other that you could could go to one one day and go to the other the next day and not feel like you "just had that". The third, which was the Broken Horn Brewery I believe, was only open in the evening so I never got to it.
Here are the sites for the two:
McCall Brewing Company | Just another WordPress site
Salmon River Brewery ~ Restaurant & Pub in McCall, Idaho
We went horse back riding one of the days and it was an experience. Deadwood Outfitters is 50 miles from the town of Cascade and it is in a remote, yet beautiful area. It takes almost an hour and half to go those 50 miles due to the winding roads through forest, the last 15 or so miles on an unpaved road that times gets a little bumpy. The location is what is left of the old mining town of Deadwood that closed 60 or 70 years ago. Now in its place is the Deadwood Outfitters with a very nice lodge, a few cabins and stables. Like I said it is remote, no cell service, they have to get by with satellite internet and the police radio in the lodge. We got a guided ride through some pristine wilderness; through forest, across steams and rivers, ect ect. The ride was well over two hours and the people at Deadwood are great, really good with kids. After the ride the guide, who is the owner, called my three girls over to a place near the stable that had this pile of used horse shoes. He asked each one what the name of their horse had been and he found a shoe from each one and gave it to them as a souvenir. He told them about each horse and said that, with mom and dads permission, they should hang each shoe in their rooms to remember the ride. During the ride my middle daughter kept asking to go on a run with her horse and said she wanted to "feel the wind through her hair", our guide dubbed her "Wind Through Her Hair" and referred to her as that the rest of the day. At one point near the end of the ride he looked at me and winked and said "Hey, Wind Through Hair, lets ride!" and gave that short cowboy whistle and snapped the reins and ran the horses for about a 100 yards. I cannot overstate how cool the people at Deadwood are.
They also are a winter destination offering snowmobile adventures and big game hunting.
Idaho Guided Elk Hunts Idaho Hunting Outfitters, Idaho Fishing Guides, Guided Pack Trips
McCall is a hockey town. As I mentioned there is a very cool rink. Around the town they had posters to support a local girl, Tawni Mohler, who plays defense for the Northern Cyclones, a "High Performance Junior Hockey Club". You could buy a shirt at the rink to help out. So I did my duty and went to the rink to get one. I was wearing my Kings gear and the owner of the rink was sorta surprised that I, a non-local would buy the shirt and help out. I said that as a hockey fan it was my pleasure to do my part. We had a very nice chat about local hockey and then what the Kings did at the 'big level". I had had assumed that the Northern Cyclone was a team in Idaho but they are team located in New Hampshire so the town is very proud of the their girl Tawni who made the team. They are also very proud of the Idaho Junior Steelheads who split home games in Boise and McCall. he urged me to come back and catch a Steelheads game in the future.
Northern Cyclones Women powered by GOALLINE.ca
Idaho Junior Steelheads Hockey Club (Design, Hosting, Registration & Administration tools by esportsdesk.com)
To further the point of Mcall being a hockey town, while at lunch at the Salmon River Brewery they had a London vs Guelph game on.
A couple of last notes: the area, at least while I was there in summer, seemed to be a "locals" play ground. In the seven days I was there I saw less than ten out of state plates, everyone was from somewhere else in Idaho and this was their favorite "get away" spot. The locals are extremely nice, always with a wave as you pass and always ready to chat. I think some big money goes up there: I saw a Lamborghini Galardo parked in town one day and seaplanes landed on the lake about every other day. I saw more than a few houses that a boat in the driveway, hooked up to a huge luxury pick-up and wave runners sitting next to snowmobiles in the garage. But if I ever ran into to rich a bigshot they never let on, everyone was always cool.
So to sum it up this was an awesome spot to camp and do outdoorsy stuff. I have camped in a lot of cool places and this ranks at or near the top. If you can do it do yourself a favor and get to this place.