Courtesy of South Fork Inn

Fly-fishing, hiking, biking and more out West.

April 21, 2013

The West is still wild for weekend adventures in eastern Idaho’s Swan Valley. Located just 45 minutes from Jackson Hole, WY, the 65-mile stretch of the Snake River known as the South Fork has long been hailed as one of the best fly-fishing destinations in the country. But cottonwood forests, high-sided canyons, and granite spires also make the scenic valley a playground for hikers, bikers, and rafting enthusiasts alike. Tip: rent a car from Jackson Hole or Idaho Falls to take full advantage of the area’s rugged, small-town charms.

Grand Teton National Park

While it’s typically less crowded than its neighbor, Yellowstone, Grand Teton is no less impressive. Keep a camera on hand for bear, moose, and bald eagle sightings, or stick to the scenery: nearly 310,000 acres of snowcapped crags, clear mountain lakes, and meadows dotted with wild flowers. Located on the shores of Phelps Lake near the park’s southern tip, the LEED Platinum Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is the base for eightmiles of additional trails, part of a $20 million endowment from the Rockefeller family, which opened in 2008.

South Fork Lodge

Situated just feet from the river, South Fork Lodge is a favorite among the fly-fishing set, offering a range of accommodation options, including 18 suites, three low-key fisherman’s cabins, and an elegant four-bedroom river house. South Fork’s new Great American Safari program takes notes from the classic African model: former Abercrombie & Kent guides lead guests—by riverboat and horseback—in search of the Big Five (think grizzlies, elk, and gray wolves), with stays at timber-floored luxury tented camps, a sunset cocktail hour, and meals like Snake River Farm rib eye with Cognac butter, prepared in advance by the lodge’s executive chef.

Museum of Idaho

Set in the former 1916 Andrew Carnegie Library in Idaho Falls, the museum’s diverse collection includes everything from dinosaur bones and ancient Egyptian artifacts to a Louis and Clark exhibit, chronicling the explorers’ time with the native Shoshone people in Idaho.

Yellowstone Bear World

Meet bottle-fed bear cubs at this drive-through wildlife park, petting zoo, and preserve in Rexburg, where visitors can get up close and personal with American bison, mule deer, and moose on curated tours of the park’s 120 acres.

Victor Emporium Soda Shop

Slurp down one of the famous handpicked huckleberry milkshakes at this Victor, ID, soda shop, a local favorite for more than 50 years.

Palisades Creek Trail

One of Swan Valley’s most popular hiking and biking trails, the Palisades Creek Trail is well maintained and offers some of the best views around. Follow the 6.32-mile path toward Upper Palisades Lake, where the blue crystal waters team with native cutthroat trout, and scan for mountain goats, navigating the surrounding peaks.

Pendl’s Bakery & Café

It’s a slice of Kitzbühel at the base of the Tetons at this quaint red pastry shop in Driggs, where Martha Pendl continues her Austrian father’s tradition of serving flaky, handmade pastries such as raspberry linzertorte, a crowd favorite, to appreciative locals.

Fitzgerald’s Bicycles

For 10 years, this friendly bike shop has been fulfilling the needs of Jackson Hole, WY, and Victor, ID’s avid cycling communities, offering repairs, rentals, and guided tours of the Teton Valley. Fuel up for your ride at Fitzgerald’s Nine Bar coffee shop, which features organic, drip-brewed DOMA beans from Post Falls, ID, and a selection of hearty breakfast burritos.

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