Mountains, streams, lakes and some of the nation’s most glorious scenery can be found at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch. Perfect for multi-generational family gatherings, the 900-acre ranch offers the opportunity to slow down, sit by the fire and play a game of cards with the Sawtooth Mountains in the distance. Scroll through to read all of the reasons why this should be your next family vacation spot!
The Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch is a three-hour drive from Boise and a 1.5-hour drive from the Sun Valley Airport. The drive from Boise takes you though gorgeous mountain towns and alongside rushing rivers. There are many spots to stop and pull over for a picnic. Idaho City is the last town you’ll find along the route before you reach Stanley so pick up your snacks here if you arrive via Boise.
Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch
Don’t be surprised if you drive right past the entrance to the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch as its unassuming sign blends right in. Travel up the dirt road and you’ll find yourself at the Lodge with an expansive porch filled with rocking chairs for taking in the views. The grassy area out front is perfect for playing Frisbee or letting the kids run around after the drive.
Families can stay in one of the cabins located just across the grass from the Lodge. You won’t find TVs, radios or phones in the rooms and honestly you won’t even miss them with all the outdoor activities available. Instead you’ll find the most comfy beds on the planet, cozy fireplaces and generous bathrooms. Cabin rooms come with a king bed or two twins and these can accommodate up to six people (with rollaways) when you book two adjoining cabin rooms.
Perhaps one of the best features of Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch is the food. All meals are absolutely delicious and included with your stay. Dinners vary from outdoor casual buffets with baked potatoes, local trout, pulled pork, corn bread and chocolate cake to three-course indoor meals served in the dining room. You can choose from entrees like elk, salmon and duck, with kids options also available. On select nights, kids can eat early and then the staff organizes games on the lawn, crafts and story time so that parents can enjoy a child-free meal.
Breakfasts include fresh-baked cinnamon rolls as well as hot entrees like oatmeal pancakes and Eggs Benedict. While you are having breakfast, you get to pick your salad or sandwich for your lunch which is packed in a brown bag for you to take with you on your adventures. They also provide chocolate chip cookies, chips, fruit and apricot oat bars (if you are lucky!).
Appetizers are offered in the Lodge before dinner and there’s a bar for purchasing wine, beer and other beverages.
The Ranch offers mountain bikes to borrow including a handful of kid-sized rides. Take the Ranch Trail loop to view the property top down as you ride downhill and across a cow pasture. There are loads of trails for hiking and a pond on the property where you can fly fish (catch and release only), try out stand-up paddle boarding or head out to see if you spot the resident beaver while on the pedalboat. The Ranch offers a number of guided activities for guests including hiking, fly fishing clinics and yoga. You can also book a massage appointment.
Horseback Riding with Pioneer Outfitters
We definitely recommend booking a half-day horseback ride with Pioneer Outfitters while at the Ranch. Their stables are located just across the street from the Ranch and their knowledgeable guides will take you on the trails so that you can get a bird’s-eye view of the valley. There’s nothing like seeing this gorgeous area on the back of a horse! Kids as young as six can participate in trail rides with pony rides available for the younger set.
Relax after a day of activity with a soak in the Ranch’s own hot spring pool. This steamy pool is the perfect escape and we especially recommend checking it out when the sun goes down and the bats are flying overhead. With the horses in the pasture nearby and the stars out, you’ll have the perfect end to your day.
Right next door to the hot spring pool you’ll find “The Shack”—another building on the property where the yoga classes take place. It has outdoor fireplaces as well as ping pong and shuffleboard inside, a great spot for hanging out with your family.
Explore the Ghost Towns of Bonanza and Custer
About an hour’s drive from the Ranch are the ghost towns of Bonanza and Custer. These former mining towns were once bustling operations and today are remembrances of a time past. Bonanza has a number of buildings and an old graveyard that are interesting for the kids. Custer has a bit more to see with a museum and walking tour that gives you information about the families that made Custer their home in the late 1800s. You can tour the massive Yankee Fork Gold Dredge between the two towns and learn about the area’s gold rush history.
Other Nearby Attractions
In addition to numerous spots for fly fishing and whitewater rafting, many families enjoy a day at the sandy beaches along Redfish Lake. You can rent bikes to ride around the lake, go on a hike or rent a boat to explore the water.
Between Redfish Lake and the Ranch you’ll find the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery, an interesting spot to stop and learn about their efforts to increase the fish population in this area. Tours are offered at 1:30 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Stop by the visitor center and borrow some gear for the kids to fish in the on-site pond. Then head to the spawning facility where you can learn how the facility involved in trapping, spawning and rearing of Chinook and sockeye salmon.
Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch offers an intimate gathering spot for families looking to get away from the city. The property can only accommodate 50 guests and you’ll feel like everyone on staff is there to make your experience the absolute best. It’s no surprise that families return here year after year to share the quiet with the next generation.
The Ranch is only open from mid-June through mid-September.
Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch
—story and photos by Kate Loweth
This trip was paid for by Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch but all opinions here belong to the author.