Spend a day on the water in this exciting town full of awe-inspiring lakes, rivers, and hot springs
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.
Feel like Peter Pan: At Tamarack Canopy Zipline Tours, 8 ziplines swoop and switchback over 4,000 feet of mountain terrain, giving you incredible views of the valley below. You can reach speeds up to 45 mph--fast enough to make you want to kiss your safety-oriented guides. From $99; tamarackzipline.com
Hit the lake, cast a line: Just ¼ mile outside of town, Lake Cascade's 86 miles of shoreline are studded with white-sand beaches made for swimming, sunning, and fishing. If you aren't catching anything, head to Horsethief Reservoir, 8 miles away, which is brimming with trout. 208/634-8137; fishing licenses from $13/nonresident at Tackle Tom's (304 N. Main St.; 208/382-4367).
Dinner and a view: Lakefront Steakhouse lives up to its name with a panoramic view of Lake Cascade. A new seasonal menu, with dishes like filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, is just the cherry on top. $$; 119 Lakeshore Dr.; 208/382-2974.
Take it home: Score huckleberry jam, Finnish knives, wooden toys, and sweets like sassafras at the old-timey Roseberry General Store, 20 minutes north of town. Farm to Market Rd. at E. Roseberry Rd., Roseberry, 208/325-5000.