You know what you want from a country retreat: a good view, a big fireplace, comfort without needless luxury. Too few get the equation exactly right, so when you find the one you happily return over the years. That’s the case with the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, which is situated 50 miles north of Ketchum along the Salmon River. The main building was built in 1930 and is on the National Historic Registry, and it’s a classic.
The ranch looks across the dramatic Sawtooth Mountains, and it has exactly what you want. Settle in to a straightforward cabin (with hickory furniture and its own fireplace) and then get down to business. The area is full of terrific hikes (the staff is eager to direct you), whether you want an something intense or low-key the scenery is fantastic. It’s also a reminder of how good life is away from the television (the rooms don’t have any).
Anglers should plan their trips for July or August (water is too high for most rivers earlier in the season). You can float the Salmon or wade the Big Wood near Ketchum in pursuit of native Cutthroat trout. If you want to test your skills against the gold standard of clear water then head two hours south to Silver Creek where you’ll see many many large trout. Of course, they’ll see you too—it’s incredibly technical fishing and is not for amateurs. To regain your pride try the stocked pond on the grounds. Regardless of where you fish, Verlon Herndon is your man. A guide of discretion and expertise, he’s the angling equivalent of a wartime consigliere.
There’s more: A hot springs swimming pool (typical temperature: 103), and horseback riding for those so inclined. You’re at good altitude—around 6200 feet—so it approaches freezing every night. It’s an incredible drive across the Continental Divide on Hwy 93 from Montana, but most people fly to Boise and drive to the ranch in less than three hours. As you increase in elevation you feel like you’re on the right path. And you are. -DAVID COGGINS