2004 Sports & Recreation Reader's Choices

Readers' Picks

BEST RECREATIONAL DESTINATION

Boise River Float

Barber Park experienced some big changes this year, including increased police patrols along the river to flush out beer-drinking miscreants and a bigger trash haul than ever. Despite the rowdies and litterbugs, floating the river is still the city's favorite pastime. Just minutes from our doorstep, this inner-city adventure offers a two- to three-hour respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life without ever having to leave the city limits. Our recommendation to the powers that be: Get more ports of call along the banks with trash and waste disposal points. Then we won't have to bathe in warmer water by the time we get out, if you know what we mean.

2. Greenbelt

3. Bogus Basin

BEST LOCAL SPORTS TEAM

Idaho Steelheads

The rumble tumble world of hockey has taken Boise by storm. Fans are all about the rituals and getting rowdy. As the 2003-2004 Kelly Cup Champions, the Steelheads are not disappointing the locals. Get ready for the 2004-2005 season: the ice is in and the puck gets unleashed October 22.

2. Boise State Broncos

3. Boise Hawks

BEST HOT SPRINGS

Bonneville

Actually, the number one response was, "It's a secret."

2. Lava Hot Springs

3. Burgdorf Hot Springs

BEST FAMILY RECREATION DESTINATION

Bogus Basin

Next to Aspen, Breckenridge, Sun Valley and Big Bear, Bogus Basin may not look like much-to the kinds of fur-lined, one-piece wearing snow bunnies who cruise the lodge for wealthy divorcees. Bogus is a hill for "real" skiers, the kind who get off work early (or don't go to work at all) to hit the slopes. With plenty of groomed beginner and intermediate runs for all you mogul mites and an endless supply of expert terrain (think powder, jump trails and steep chutes), Bogus has something for everyone. They even have two fully equipped lodges for the bunnies, a pit-stop burger joint at the bottom of Superior Chair and a lift ticket that doesn't cost more than your skis.

2. McCall

3. Roaring Springs

BEST GYM

YMCA

There's so much to do: lift weights, spin, shoot hoops, climb, swim, soak in a tub, sauna, run on a treadmill or even relax with a tub of sugar-infused sports drink. We are always finding different stuff to try and new nooks and crannies where muscles get taut and lungs limber. Best of all, it's nestled in the heart of downtown, making it easy for corporate types to work out on their lunch breaks, soccer moms to pump iron between games and regular folks to entertain their kids and reclaim their youth with some shenanigans around the pool.

2. Gold's Gym

3. Idaho Athletic Club

BEST GOLF COURSE

Warm Springs

It may just be a Greenbelt traffic jam to non-golfers (keep listening for that "Fore!"), but Warm Springs has survived all the new 45-hole championship-caliber fads and vogue technology to remain the heart and soul of Boise golf. Falcon Crest? Please! Titanium? Shite-anium! It takes stronger stuff than can be made by the hand of man to defeat this Idaho institution.

2. Quail Hollow

3. Shadow Valley

BEST BOARD SHOP

Newt & Harold's

Looking for that perfect plank to put some wheels on? How about some inline skates? The hottest shoes and shirt to blend in with the uber-cool skate kids at the park? Look no further than the swimming dude on Broadway Avenue. Newt & Harold's not only carries killer gear and a great selection of boards, they also employ people who are into the sport, making them knowledgeable, down-to-earth and able to council both the experienced boarder and the wandering newbie.

2. The Board Room

3. McU Sports

BEST CAMPING SPOT

Redfish Lake

A Switzerland-esque lake with the jagged Sawtooths as a dramatic backdrop, Redfish offers the definitive Idaho experience. Crystal clear cold water, sandy beaches, pined forests, rustic lodge and bar, swimming, kayaking, water skiing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, make for a great adventure.

2. It's a secret

3. Sawtooths

BEST SPORTS EVENT OF THE YEAR

Boise State football games ... especially against the Vandals

Let's face, Boise loves its Broncos. Last season, under coach Dan Hawkins, the Broncos played some of the most exciting games local ever, ending up with the highest national ranking they've ever earned-numero 17 in the country. With so many loyal fans cheering them on, it seems the Broncos just can't lose on the Smurf Turf. From the tailgate parties, to the pre-show entertainment, to the beer now available in the stadium (hallelujah), a Bronco game is howling good time.

2. Idaho Steelheads Playoffs

3. Twilight Criterion

BEST BIKE SHOP

George's Cycles

With two Boise locations, knowledgeable staff, excellent selection of top-of-the-line gear, and serving as information central for cycling races and events, it's no wonder George's received the nod for Best Bike Shop.

2. Idaho Mountain Touring

3. Bob's Cycles

BEST REC GEAR SHOP

REI

REI is one those stores in which it is impossible to leave without buying something, even if it's just a carabiner keychain or a collapsible camp pillow. In addition to offering a vast array of gear, REI scores big points for donating some of its proceeds to conservation and environmental groups, for offering members a dividend check every year based on purchases made and for having an in-store climbing wall.

2. Idaho Mountain Touring

3. Sportsman's Warehouse

BEST DAY TRIP

McCall

A good day trip allows for a pleasant morning journey, a welcome stay over lunch with afternoon activities and a sublime sunset drive home. The two-hour drive to McCall gives you all of that. We recommend an early start to avoid traffic on that "goat track" up the Payette River. Stop for a coffee and scrumptious pastry in Donnelly at the Flight of Fancy. Head up to McCall and rent a boat or visit the galleries. Have lunch at Bistro 45 or My Father's Place, and if you have some time, stop at Gold Fork Hot Springs on the way back.

2. Stanley

3. Sun Valley

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