When you think of rural Idaho, you might have a few preconceived notions – desolate mountains, raging rivers and potatoes as far as the eye can see. While that was certainly what I had in mind when I boarded my flight to Sun Valley this month, what I found there was pleasantly surprising.
In my role as founder of the photo community Naked Planet, I’ve traveled all over the globe and have encountered some breathtaking vistas, amazing food and warm and genuine locals. During my four days in Idaho, I experienced all of that and more. In Stanley, Idaho I had some of the best food – including the freshest potatoes – I’ve ever encountered during my travels.
Maybe because it has a population of fewer than 70 people, but everyone I met in Stanley was friendly and sat down with me to share a conversation or a local beer (in particular, Grand Teton’s Ale 208 – a fantastic local offering sourced, brewed and available only in Idaho). Stanley was anything but desolate.
And the rest of my time navigating the roads and rivers of the Sawtooth Mountains was equally amazing:
- Kayaking down the breathtakingly beautiful Salmon River,
- Rising well before dawn to hike up Mount Borah,
- Getting an amazing view of the Milky Way from the balcony of my bed and breakfast.
Importantly, I never had to worry about not being connected to home. Whether I was in a ski gondola in Sun Valley or driving to and climbing Mount Borah at 10,000 feet, the 4G LTE networks of Verizon and their rural partner Custer Wireless had me covered.
Nearly every local I encountered, from the river guides to those working the front desk at my B&B noted that unless you have Verizon out there, you may as well not have a phone at all. Thanks again to Verizon and Custer Wireless for making this trip possible.
I hope my photos and videos connect you to the true essence of rural Idaho.
Stephen Valido is the co-founder of the travel photography site Naked Planet, a content hub, bringing together travelers through photo and video-based content. Through photography and film Stephen and his team seek to capture the aspects of nature, wildlife, and human culture as they blend to create the world we live in.