Naturalist Journeys, LLC - Small Group Birding and Natural History Tours

Idaho: Rockies and Rivers, A Nature Adventure Tour
Active Nature Adventure Tours by Naturalist Journeys
July 7-15, 2013

Guide: Peg Abbott


For our 2013 Reunion Trip, Naturalist Journeys is offering a NEW trip to Idaho. It’s surprising that we have not yet featured this fabulous western state as one of our Idahodestinations. Idaho is the 7th least populous state (a boon for nature lovers) andcontains dramatic geographic features, including large lakes, expansive prairies and the rugged Sawtooth Mountains. It is there that we will spend four nights of our journey, at a lovely guest ranch perfect for a reunion trip, where enjoying each other is key. Spend time in a beautiful setting, with options to hike, ride, raft, or just seek some R and R in view of the mountains. With a great reputation for fine food and hospitality, our time at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch is sure to be rejuvenating.

As this will be a first trip to Idaho for many, the first four nights of the tour are designed to provide us a sample of what the state has to offer. We drive the length of the state, beginning in Spokane, and ending in Boise (though those driving are welcome to return with our drivers to pick up vehicles in Spokane).

IdahoCoeur D’Alene, perched on its namesake lake, is surrounded by nature. Enjoy a cruise on the lake, sample local nature trails, and enjoy the quaint downtown with fun restaurants and galleries. The city lights reflect on the lake at night; during the day we watch Osprey diving for fish.

From there, we drive to McCall, a drive of several hours punctuated with a stop at the Appaloosa Horse Museum in Moscow. McCall sits on the shore of Payette Lake, where we find great hiking at a state park. During free time, some may wish to rent a kayak or canoe, or make an appointment at a lavish lakeside spa.  

We then move on to the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch. Snow-capped mountains decorate the views, and the Salmon River meanders nearby. Horseback riding and hiking await, both escorted by local guides. With comfortable accommodations, well-crafted cuisine, and western ambiance, this promises to be a memorable stay.



Sun., July 7 Arrivals in Spokane / Drive to Coeur d’Alene
IdahoPlease arrive at the Spokane International Airport (SIA) by 2PM.  Once we have our group assembled, it’s about a forty minute drive over to Coeur d’Alene, where we settle in to our accommodations.  Some may wish to stretch their legs on a 2-mile walk on the local Tubb Hill Nature Trail, but you can also explore the town, or just rest up from your travels.  Enjoy a welcome dinner as we sample one of this popular resort town’s fine restaurants.
Accommodations downtown, at the Flamingo Motel (D)

Mon., July 8 Coeur d’Alene
Mountain Bluebird
Enjoy time this morning to walk and look for wildlife in a nearby nature reserve.   After a picnic lunch, enjoy a two-hour cruise on 25-mile long Lake Coeur d’Alene. We’ll leave some of the afternoon free for you to enjoy local shops and galleries, and tonight’s dinner is at leisure for you to select one of the many fine eateries.  With luck there may be a concert or summer theatre performance you can elect to attend this evening (closer to the trip we’ll watch the schedule and advise for advance tickets).
Accommodations at the Flamingo Motel (B,L)

Idaho - pineTues., July 9 Appaloosa Horse Museum/ Moscow / McCall and Payette Lake
Today we travel through a wonderful mix of habitats, including some expansive prairies and lands home to the Nez Pearce people.  We’ll make several stops as the total drive today is about five hours – Idaho is a big state!  As we travel the landscape, we focus on geology and history.  Plan on lunch, and time at the Appaloosa Horse Museum as we pass through Moscow, home of the University of Idaho.  We also tour the local Camas Prairie Winery, a solar-powered facility established in 1983 (Idaho’s oldest production winery).  They produce 24 wines from locally grown grapes, fruit and honey and received notable awards. Those tasting can enjoy a nap as we continue on! 

We arrive in McCall with time to settle in, and to enjoy a walk in the pines for several hours this afternoon. Ponderosa State Park covers most of a 1,000-acre peninsula that juts into beautiful Payette Lake, with several trails to choose from. 
Accommodations at The Shore Lodge (B,L,D)

RavenWed., July 10 McCall
We have the full day to explore and enjoy glacier-carved Payette Lake and all it has to offer.  We plan to do another hike at Ponderosa State Park, with a picnic lunch.  In the afternoon, those who want to be on the water can choose a canoe or kayak to paddle a quiet cove.  Adjacent to our lodge is a fabulous, lakeside spa facility called the Cove.  Pamper yourself today and book a massage, facial, the immersion pools or other treatment ahead of your journey if you wish to do so – enjoy!  Dinner is at your leisure tonight, at the hotel or in the town of McCall, known for its many good restaurants.
Accommodations at The Shore Lodge (B,L)

Thurs., July 11 to Mon., July 15 Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch
Idaho Rocky Mountain RanchToday we head for the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, which describes itself as an “oasis of understated comfort and civilization.”  We agree!  The beautiful log and stone architecture, western furnishings, fabulous porch with views of the Sawtooth Mountains, and natural hot springs swimming pool – someone has to enjoy them and why not our most compatible Naturalist Journeys reunion group?

We leave in the morning for a three and a half hour drive south passing Lake Cascade, and then east through Boise National Forest.  We have lunch in Stanley, and give you an hour or so to explore this quaint town.  Meet back at a local ice-cream and coffee shop for treats, and off we go to the ranch, south of town.

Idaho Rocky Mountain RanchThursday afternoon we settle in, explore the grounds, and just enjoy the ranch with its 1930’s original lodge and cabins.  All meals are included with our stay, and each one is memorable – dining is offered with gracious attention to detail!  Their innovative chef is Jordan Boutry.  Each evening, we are invited to gather ahead of dinner in the Great Room for appetizers. 

Friday, Saturday and Sunday we have opportunities to hike with the local experts, Sawtooth Mountain guides, or to ride horseback with Pioneer Outfitters, located there at the ranch.  Peg will of course lead some birding outings, and walk the ranch area in search of the wonderful array of mountain wildflowers that decorate the sage in July.  Interpretation of the landscape is a strong element of our stay.

One day, we include as part of our itinerary a three hour scenic river float on a quiet stretch of river, with wildlife and great views. 
Accommodations at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch (B,L,D, all days)

Red SquirrelMon., July 15 Departures
We have to tear ourselves away today, after one last filling breakfast at the Ranch.  We have a three hour drive back to Boise, arriving 11:00-11:30 depending on traffic, so please make plans for flights out after 1:00PM.  (B)

Please note, if you wish to extend your adventure, we’ve timed this so you can join a whitewater raft trip on the Salmon River, either the Main (remember the movie, River of No Return?), or Middle Fork (considered by many to be the best wilderness raft trip of the West).  We see that two companies have launches for 4-6 day trips starting on July 16th on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River – note these are
popular and fill fast, so contact us for help selecting and booking this option.

Pronghorn Deer

Stellar's Jay

Cow Elk

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

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Cost of the journey is $3590.00, based on double occupancy, from Spokane, WA, departing Boise, ID. This nine-day tour cost includes accommodations for 8 nights, most meals as specified in the itinerary (all but two free night dinners), professional guide services, other park and program entrance fees and miscellaneous program expenses. At the ranch it includes the suggested gratuities (15%), a three-hour scenic float trip, guided hiking with nature interpretation, and one hour and a half horseback ride at the ranch.  Additional riding (optional) – rates are $TBA for 1.5hr, $TBA for 3 hour, and $TBA for all day with lunch. Single supplement $895.00.

Cost does not include: round-trip airfare to and from Spokane/Boise, items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar; or gratuities for luggage handling or personal services. With fewer than 6 participants, a small-group surcharge (typically $100-300 per participant) may apply, or we may request that you pick up the cost of a few additional dinners in lieu of that surcharge.

The airport for this tour is Spokane International Airport Spokane, Washington (SIA).  Plan to arrive by 2:00PM on or before July 7th, 2013 and plan to depart from Boise Airport, Boise, Idaho (BOI) after 1:00PM on July 15th onwards. If you are considering adding on a 4-6 day raft trip, this requires advance planning, but you can meet the group in Stanley and they will transfer you back to Boise; ask Naturalist Journeys for more details. 

Naturalist Journeys, LLC is an equal opportunity service provider and committed to the goal of ensuring equal opportunity for all in employment and program delivery.  

Photo Credits:
All ranch photos, and triplet photo on Introduction section courtesy of Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch.  Other photos by Peg Abbott.

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