Andrea Gómez Romero
Why go in summer: Because Idaho's first whitewater park is open for business.
Water world: Most people buzz through Cascade on their way to McCall, but insiders know to stick around for the incredible lakes, rivers, and hot springs.
Take a stroll in town: The Crown Point Railroad Grade Trail (parksandrecreation.idaho.gov) winds almost 3 miles along Lake Cascade.
Or a float: Paddle sports are king here, but for a lazier float, rent an inner tube at River Gear and glide the 2½ miles from North Bridge to South Bridge.
Night life: The Roxy Theatre (114 S. Main St.; theroxyidaho.com) is now restored to its 1939 glory, when it was one of the most advanced movie theaters in the Northwest.
Reason to come back: The annual Valley County Fair & Rodeo (Aug 2-6; rodeo $10; valleycountyfair.com), where last year, a huckleberry-raspberry pie from 86-year old local baking legend Mrs. G auctioned off for $6,300.
River wild: The 3½-acre Kelly's Whitewater Park has 5 sets of rapids that stir up this otherwise quiet stretch of the Payette River--and it's all free to the public. People tackle them in kayaks, rafts, and tubes, and newbies should stick to the easier west-side rapids. Open through Sep 5; kellyswhitewaterpark.com; equipment rentals at River Gear (762 S. Main St.; 208/382-6580).
A serious soak: With 6 cascading pools filled with mineral-rich spring water ranging from warm to very hot, and ringed by mountains, Gold Fork Hot Springs requires an afternoon to do right. $8; 1026 Gold Fork Rd. in Donnelly, 6 miles from State 55; 208/890-8730.