There’s something about the western United States that calls to every outdoorsman. It could be the wild and rugged landscapes that are the original stomping grounds of cowboys and outlaws. Maybe it’s the rich and abundant wildlife offering the challenge of a hard hunt or long fishing line. Or perhaps it’s the dream of blazing a trail through untouched wilderness to lay your claim on a soaring mountain peak.
If the West is calling your name, one great way to answer is with an epic western road trip through Utah, Idaho, and Oregon. Your trip will take you to some of the best places in the area for outdoor adventure, from towering mountaintops to flowing rivers full of trophy-size trout and across the many miles between.
Grab your gear, plug in some destinations, and get ready to begin your epic western road trip on a high note in the magnificent mountains of Southern Utah.
Stop One: Brian Head, Utah
As a hub of mountainous adventure, Brian Head offers the ultimate Southern Utah experience for any outdoor enthusiast. Known as the highest resort town in America, it’s 9,800 ft elevation makes it perfect for all types of slope-shredding, from skiing to mountain biking to hiking and more.
During your stay, head to the famed Brian Head Resort to test every inch of its two connected mountains (and your nerve). During the winter, you can ski, snowboard, and tube down 71 distinct runs coated with a fresh powder of the Greatest Snow on Earth®. In the warmer months, the resort offers activities like mountain biking, hiking, avalanche tubing, and even archery.
For a bigger taste of all Brian Head has to offer, make time to explore some of the area’s most iconic scenes at Zion National Park or blaze a trail through the Dixie National Forest before heading to I-15 north towards Idaho.
Stop Two: Swan Valley, Idaho
Where To Stay: #2 Brook Trout, a cozy rental in the historic Snake River Roadhouse offering great amenities like dining, a full bar, and nightly entertainment.
After days of high mountain fun, a trip down to a riverside valley is the perfect change of pace. Swan Valley, Idaho sits snugly on the South Fork of the Snake River, a legendary stretch of shoreline rated as the best wild trout fishery in the lower 48 states. If you’re not looking to catch a trophy trout, it’s also a popular spot for flat water rafting, canoeing, and kayaking – but be careful that you don’t confuse its calm surface for deeper depths.
If you want other ways to catch a good time, you’re in luck – Swan Valley’s prime location offers endless opportunities for outdoor pursuits. It’s surrounded on three sides by dramatic mountain ranges that provide year-round activities like hiking, ATV’ing, and hunting. You’re also close to some great gems like Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Jackson Hole.
After exploring your fill, it’s time to head west on US-20 towards Oregon.
Stop Three: Sisters, Oregon
Finish your trip by returning to a time when being an outdoorsman was the only option – the Old West. This western-themed town in Central Oregon feels straight out of a simpler time thanks to historic architecture, miles of high desert wilderness, and a slow-and-steady lifestyle.
Speaking of slow-and-steady, it’s the pace you’ll want to take when climbing the volcanic and basalt cliffs at Smith Rock State Park. It’s known as the birthplace of U.S. Sport Climbing and offers close to 2000 routes of all lengths and difficulties. At the summit, set up a slackline to test your balance as you walk unassisted across a steep canyon gorge. If you can’t handle the height, you can also hike, bike, or horseback ride through the park’s 650 acres of dramatic desert scenes.
Back on solid ground, rest your shaking knees by exploring some of the more scenic Sisters spots. Explore the vibrant downtown district, hike the nearby trail systems, or check out one of the town’s unique summer festivals like the Sisters Rodeo.