Highlights of upcoming expeditions in Idaho with outfitters Far and Away Adventures include a selection of luxury Middle Fork trips with safari-style camping on riverbanks, guided backcountry adventures, solar-powered showers and gourmet meals with fine stemware, wines and chef-prepared cuisine. Six-day, five-night itineraries with a maximum of 22 participants include new “sweep boats” fitted with swivel seats, wooden decks and wine cellars. From Aug. 11–16, a themed Bourbon on the Middle Fork trip includes whitewater rafting, fishing and luxury camping with evening bourbon tastings and seminars covering trends, tastes and techniques. Personalized charters are also available that include handpicked menus, great wines and guest-chosen activities.
About 2.5 hours from Denver near the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Colorado, new luxury cabins and glamping tents are part of Echo Canyon River Expeditions. Nine Royal Gorge Cabins provide luxury accommodations in six 800-square-foot, two-story, two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom loft cabins; and three one-bedroom, one-bath, 600-square -oot king cabins. Loft cabin living areas include galley kitchens and other features such as flat-screen televisions, granite bars and double-sided gas fireplaces. Glamping tents are fitted with comfy beds and can accommodate up to four in two queen-sized beds fitted with soft linens. The tents also include screened windows, private porches, picnic tables, fire rings and complimentary WiFi (but no private bathrooms). A wide variety of seasonal rafting adventures on the Arkansas River are also offered, from peaceful floats with your family to heart-pounding whitewater adventures. Afterwards, you can rehash the high points of your day over a meal or a Colorado beer at the 8 Mile Bar & Grill.
By Debra Bokur – March 11, 2017
1. Visit a national park. You may already have a favorite, or perhaps you yearn to visit Yosemite or Glacier. This year, the list of possibilities got longer with the addition of seven new parks in eight states plus the District of Columbia.
While several of the newbies await land acquisitions or design approvals, others are ready for your arrival.
Check out the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park in Massachusetts for river rafting, canoeing, kayaking and cycling. You’ll also get the chance to honor the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. The area hosted the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning factory, a symbol of the nation’s transition from farm to factory. Ask about adventure packs to help youngsters explore the region.
2. Raft a river. Find your way to Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness and commit to an unplugged week on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. As you float, fish and splash through 100 miles of spectacular scenery, you’ll be treated to unexpected luxuries. Relish the fresh air of morning as your crew delivers hot coffee or cocoa to your cozy tent. Later, warm up in a hot spring, dine on organic, seasonal specialties and plan for the next day’s adventure under a starry sky.
3. Hike the Rockies. Make a plan to take on a trek that will reward your clan with stunning vistas, wildflowers and a sense of accomplishment. The 12-mile trail between Crested Butte and Aspen crosses over the Maroon Bells pass (12,500 feet) and through splendid scenery.
A package created by Crested Butte’s Nordic Inn and the Limelight in Aspen simplifies logistics for travelers. It offers a comfortable night’s sleep, breakfast and assistance in transport to and from the trail heads. Your complimentary use of a satellite-assisted device makes it possible to track your progress, enabling an easy pickup at the end of the hike (and SOS capability in the off chance things go awry).
Contact: nordicinncb.com; limelighthotel.com; visitcolorado.com
4. Consider a farm stay. A stay at the Flint Hill Farm, which is on 28 acres in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh County, means you and your family will learn about country life dating back to 1850.
Find out what it means to run a certified raw cow and goat milk dairy and how artisan cheese, butter and yogurt are made. Collect eggs for breakfast and then, if you like, assist with feeding and handling the horses, chickens, pigs and sheep.
Contact: farmstayus.com; flinthill-farmag.org
5. Camp under the stars. Keep your carbon footprint low by setting up your tent close to home. Teach the kids what it means to “take only pictures and leave only footprints.” Bring reusable utensils and containers and leave the campsite better than you found it.
While exploring, discuss the importance of staying on marked trails to protect fragile ecosystems.
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BY: Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
The Dallas Morning News
Teens can be a picky lot. But they’re at an age when they will remember family vacations, and great memories can be made. Here are some teen traits and how to accommodate or battle them on your next trip
Your teen may suffer from FOMO
That’s Fear of Missing Out. Sure, there’s the big game on Saturday, Heather’s birthday party and Jason’s gathering to consider. But won’t there always be some can’t-miss event on your teen’s calendar?
The flip side is they’ll have plenty to share on social media after the family boards a high-tech über-ship like Royal Cabibbean’s Anthem of the Seas for an island-hopping cruise through the sunny Caribbean.
Or perhaps your son or daughter would prefer exploring Alaska’s Inside Passage. Expect photo ops on ziplines or while dog-sledding across icy glaciers.
Your teen may relish the rewards of unplugging
You won’t know for sure until you try. But once there is no Snapchat to send or sports scores to check, the conversation may flow.
So buckle up your personal flotation devices and share the thrill of a trip down Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River with Far and Away Adventures, where trout are plentiful, hot springs provide a welcome warm-up and frothy rapids get the adrenaline pumping.
Share stories around the campfire and catch the star-filled show overhead.
Your teen may be stressed
It’s a complicated world. And then there are colleges and careers to consider. So, for now, why not relax, old-school style?
Head to southern Maine’s Migis Lodge on the shores of Lake Saranac, where families have been bonding since 1916. Swim, paddle, float, ski or sail by day.
Then, gather your clan for a lobster or clambake before a settling in for a fireside game night in your cozy cottage.
Your teen is curious
So why not explore someplace new together?
A textured city such as New Orleans offers rich cultural, historical and adventurous outings. Check out the spooky vampire and haunted house tours and visit compelling movie sets.
Sample new styles of music in all-age venues like House of Blues and Preservation Hall. Stir up some spice-filled fun in a Cajun cooking class before testing your skills in an Audubon Institute ropes course.
Your teen will be gone before you know it
You’ll be moving your fledgling adult into a dorm or apartment in no time. So for now, pack your suits and sunscreen and enjoy quality island time.
In Hawaii, explore torch-lit paths, indigenous birds and flora, and a world-famous luau at the Big Island’s Hilton Waikoloa Village. Dig in for toes-in-the-sand dining and hula dancing on Kauai, snorkel on Maui, or surf and swim while relaxing on Oahu.wa
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By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
The Dallas Morning News (TNS)
River guide Sparky Easom yells out commands as the paddle raft with six passengers pinballs through Cave Rapid, one of the first Class IV (expert) rapids on Idaho’s remote Bruneau River.
A raft on the Bruneau River is framed by steep canyon walls few people see. Paddle raft guide Sparky Easom’s eyes are focused on roaring whitewater downstream on the Bruneau River. “Paddles ready,” he says to his passengers. “It’s a place of wonder,” river guide Jessie Jarvis said about the wilderness canyon southeast of Boise. Guides Sadie Grossbaum and Jessie Jarvis prepare a dinner at camp on the Bruneau River. It’s easy to relish the lunch spots on the Bruneau River. Loaded with rafting gear, a Far and Away Adventures truck creaks its way down the last steep and rocky segment of the road to the Bruneau River canyon. A raft on the Bruneau River is framed by steep canyon walls few people see. Paddle raft guide Sparky Easom’s eyes are focused on roaring whitewater downstream on the Bruneau River. “Paddles ready,” he says to his passengers.
Easom coordinates the forward and back paddling of the passengers, and the raft zig-zags through a maze of boulders that need the expertise of a veteran river runner.
“Easy does it. Take a break.”
It’s late May and the Bruneau’s flows, after four years of low water and canceling trips, are perfect for the 40-mile wilderness whitewater run in a pristine, 1,200-foot canyon known for being hard to float, hard to reach and hard to predict.
That’s right. You have to catch the Bruneau River while you can, and for many, it’s a bucket list expedition they want to catch.
Desert roads that tend to be greasy wet have to be passable. River flows have to be just right where they can be run in kayaks and rafts — not too high and not too low. The running season can be months, a few weeks or mere days. The season can be anywhere from April to mid-June, depending on snowpack in the 10,500-foot Jarbidge Mountains on the Idaho-Nevada border, which feeds the river.
Contemplating all the variables, a time can come when all conditions are perfect, and then a desert downpour gums up roads and makes river flows too high to run.
Steve Lentz, who owns Far and Away Adventures out of Sun Valley with his wife, Annie, was watching the river, roads and weather all spring trying to bet on the best days to launch. “You basically roll the dice,” he said.
He picked the fourth week in May. Several of his guides scouted the river in the preceding weeks. Anticipating guests got emails that it was a go.
Still, just days before the trip, certain sections of the roughly 50 miles of desert roads leading to the launch site turned into axle-deep quicksand. Back roads going into the Bruneau Canyon can turn into a greasy frying pan of infamous Owyhee gumbo from one freak desert storm. Owyhee gumbo is an extremely sticky goo that results when rain hits the talcum powder dirt. Just add water and it’s like Elmer’s Glue on tires.
At the last minute, it was a definite go, but still with hesitations on what the rafting convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles loaded with rafts, raft frames, coolers, food and other gear would find.
In the end, the expedition gets to the launch site on the Bruneau downstream from the confluence of the Jarbidge and West Fork of the Bruneau rivers. The river “put-in” is a gateway into an ancient lava rock canyon of orange-brown, black, gray and seemingly blue colored walls, red cliffs and Christmas tree like junipers. Around each bend are spire-like hoodoos shooting hundreds of feet skyward, deep dark caves and pastel-gray volcanic columns.
The canyon is the home of a variety of wildlife, such as bighorn sheep, songbirds, hawks, redband trout and river otters. Western tanagers escort rafters downstream — yellow flashes flittering from juniper to juniper. The south-north canyon is a migration highway for them in spring as they head to Central Idaho’s high country.
All this is hidden from most people.
The Bruneau is a secret canyon in Southwest Idaho’s sagebrush plain, located between 90 and 120 miles southeast of Boise. Look across the sage flatlands as you leave the farming town of Bruneau and you don’t even know there’s a river canyon out there. Miles and miles of sage go by and still no canyon. Then, suddenly there is a gash in the earth and the river appears like a tiny mocha-colored ribbon in the distance.
The Bruneau gets its life-blood flows from fresh snowmelt in the Jarbidge Mountains of northern Nevada and drains north through an area called the Owyhee Uplands. It eventually ends up in the Snake River, one of Idaho’s major rivers.
Despite the struggles of putting together such an expedition on a remote river, Far and Away Adventures, a wilderness river outfitter, serves up a luxury trip. For the average person who is not an expert river runner, the best way to experience the Bruneau is on an outfitted trip.
On the river, wetsuits, lifejackets and helmets are provided along with the expertise of guides who have PhDs in whitewater.
Off the river and in camp, guides provide gourmet meals and fine wine; huge, spacious tents and cots with sleeping bags lined with flannel; and plenty of waterproof bags for personal gear. Guides set up camp tents as guests take a hike or relax in lawn chairs taking in the grandiose scenery.
After a day of paddling, it’s so relaxing to sit in a lawn chair and anticipate an exquisite dinner. How river guides can get all the fixings for a dinner is a wonder: caprese skewers with balsamic reduction drizzle; spring spinach salad with strawberries; candied nuts and feta cheese and citrus dressing; grilled Basque lamb lolipops in a cabernet, soy ginger garlic marinade; grilled lemon peppered asparagus spears; and sweet potato casserole with pecan crumble.
And, after a day of vigorous paddling, there’s still room for dessert — Dutch oven whole-baked cinnamon apples with handed whipped cream topping.
Relaxing after dinner with daylight fading and a fire burning in a fire pan, it’s easy to reminisce on the river, the road coming in and the canyon’s mystery. With all its inaccessibility and hard work to get to, the wonder of the Bruneau River never grows old. Just ask guides who know the river up close and personal.
“The Bruneau creates curiosity in me. It’s a place of wonder,” says river guide Jessie Jarvis, who rows one of the large gear rafts. She and fellow guide Sadie Grossbaum clean up after dinner and talk about how special the canyon is to them.
“The Bruneau Canyon is a different planet,” said Grossbaum, who never knew it was here while growing up in Idaho.
For many, the Bruneau River is on a bucket list. “I had one guy who had done 17 rivers. After doing the Bruneau, it was at the top of the list,” Lentz said.
It’s also an incredible trip for whitewater newcomers. Michael Scott of Sun Valley had only done day trips on whitewater rivers. The Bruneau was his first multi-day trip. “It is a fantastic journey, an amazing run. The Bruneau is definitely worth the wait,” he said after a day of whitewater and canyon scenery.
Luckily, the wonders of the Bruneau are preserved forever. Congress designated the 89,820-acre Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness in 2009 and the canyon as protected rim to rim. The area is so unique that visitors joke if it was in another state, say like Kansas, it would probably be a national park.
It’s the last morning on the Bruneau River and nature’s alarm clock goes off. It’s a symphony of birds greeting the first faint rays of daylight.
It’s an orchestra of chirps, squawks, chatters and tweets, much like the sounds of trumpets, flutes, clarinets and bassoons reverberating off the canyon walls. The background accompaniment is the percussion sounds of the river.
It’s also the final leg of the river with an infamous section called Five Mile Rapids. In the mix are Boneyard, Nemesis and Wild Burro thundering up ahead and raring to bounce, buck and douse paddlers.
Luckily, we have paddle guide Sparky Easom calling out commands.
DETAILS ON THE BRUNEAU RIVER
STORY BY PETE ZIMOWSKY
Special to the Idaho Statesman
Traditional camping is great, but if you’ve ever wanted to add a little luxury – a little glam – to your rugged backcountry experience, Idaho has got you covered…literally. Whether sleeping on a rocky tent pad or struggling to stay warm during Idaho’s chilly summer nights isn’t your idea of fun, or you’re just looking for a more romantic getaway, these “glampgrounds” offer queen-sized beds, wifi, heated rooms, and extra amenities to transform an ordinary wilderness trip into something, well, a little more first class. Check it out!
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If you like your bourbon on the rocks, go white-water rafting. Bourbon lovers and neophytes will learn a lot about the American whiskey this summer while being immersed in nature on Idaho’s Salmon River.
Idaho-based operator Far and Away Adventures specializes in what it calls “wilderness luxury.” It has crafted a six-day trip, Aug. 27-Sept. 1, called Bourbon on the Middle Fork that combines rafting and catch-and-release fishing with daily bourbon tastings and Bourbon 101 tutorials.
During the trip, participants sip and compare different types of bourbon, then sample changes in flavor when they’re served “neat, cut and on ice.” Discussions center on topics such as new techniques in bourbon making (barrel storage, blending, etc.) and how bourbon fares in cocktails.
“Emphasis will be placed on tasting protocol and influences as well as common vocabulary and how to taste and enjoy bourbon,” a trip description says.
If it sounds a bit hedonistic, relax. Part of your trip cost will support an organization devoted to protecting the state’s Sawtooth National Recreation Area. (The nonprofit organization is ponying up two pros to provide the bourbon content of the trip.)
By day, participants can expect to run the river on the Salmon River, which was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1968.
The cost is $2,950 per person, plus $120 for the flight to the Middle Fork and a 3% National Forest Service fee. It covers all ground transportation, rafts, guides, meals and, of course, the bourbon.
Info: Far and Away Adventures, (800) 232-8588
Annie and Steve….
What a perfect way to celebrate our 50th!!! We thoroughly enjoyed the terrific team you have put together…everybody in the family echoes this feeling….could not have been better experience! We all have great memories which will be talked about at family gatherings to come.
Here are the watercolors, now finished, for your use and sharing with the crew.
Far and Away was named as the outfitter to travel with in their selection of 25 TRIPS OF A LIFETIME. It includes the Middle Fork of the Salmon as one of the three initial American adventures.
“Our vision is to embody the Outside spirit and tradition of seeking out and unearthing travel experiences that truly matter. To set an intention that inspires travelers to create awesome stories of their own, to become nothing less than simply the coolest adventure-travel company in the world.”
25 TRIPS OF A LIFETIME
Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon
This is our premier wilderness luxury experience. Guests travel from around the world to experience the Middle Fork. Nearly 100 miles of adrenaline-pumping rapids, tranquil pools, and relaxing riffle. Enjoy the remote beauty and diversity in ecosystems from high alpine to desert canyon to blue-ribbon trout fishing and abundant wildlife. Six days and five night of getting away from it all – and getting re-centered in a way that’s nearly impossible in the modern world
The Jarbidge/Bruneau River
A narrow crack opens itself in the southwestern Idaho desert and reveals a river canyon of extraordinary beauty and character. These smaller-volume rivers, typically floatable in late spring and early summer, feature spectacular whitewater and are high on the “must-do” lists of adventurers. This is one of the best kept secrets in river-running.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone’s serene side is not too far off the beaten track. Far & Away Adventures offers a leisurely kayak adventure on deep blue water, where wildlife and elbow room are plentiful. This is a Yellowstone little changed from the time mountain man John Colter first explored more than 200 years ago. The adventure begins with a half-hour cabin cruiser ride across Yellowstone Lake (the nation’s largest lake at over 7,500 feet above sea level) to a secluded dock. From there, a short sea kayak or canoe paddle transports you to a private camp hidden among one of the one hundred and ten miles of pristine shorelines that comprise the massive lake. Perfect for the family who wants to truly “unplug” and enjoy Yellowstone (minus the masses), this trip offers plenty of relaxation and adventure.