Few places exemplify the idea of getting away from it all like Garden Valley. Roughly an hour's drive from Boise, the small mountain communities are favorite escapes for those looking to avoid the heat of summer in the Treasure Valley or as a home base for winter adventures.
From Boise, take Highway 55, which winds along the main Payette River. Hang a right on the Banks-Lowman Road, which follows the South Fork of the Payette River, where whitewater rafters and kayakers come from all over the world to experience the thrill of world-class rapids. Anglers come to the area as well, in search of a tale of the one that didn't get away.
You'll find Crouch, the commercial center of Garden Valley, about one mile off the Banks-Lowman Road. Crouch is known for its outrageous Fourth of July party, in part because it's a popular destination for city slickers who own or rent cabins as quick weekend getaways. Floating the Middle Fork of the Payette is a popular summer pastime, as is a trip up to the natural hot springs pool Silver Creek Plunge (silvercreekplunge.com). Trails crisscrossing the valley provide outdoor options for hikers and bikers in the summer and in the winter, snowmobile routes are as fun as they are essential for getting around. Even the duffers among us can take in the fresh scent of pine at the popular course at Terrace Lakes Resort (terracelakes.com)—just keep an eye out for wildlife.
If you're spending some time in Crouch, take in a show at the outdoor Starlight Mountain Theatre (starlightmountaintheatre.com) and then bounce between the town's two bars: the Dirty Shame Saloon (843 Middlefork Road) and the Longhorn (1049 Old Crouch Road). Wild Bill's Coffee and Bistro (592 Middlefork Road) is your coffee stop come morning.
Regardless of the season, the Garden Valley area has a host of natural hot springs pools. Some, like the ever popular Skinny Dipper Hot Springs on the Banks-Lowman Road, are partially developed, while others are just as nature created them. We won't tell you where those are though ... finding them is half the fun.