Great outdoors trips don't happen on their own. If you're planning a river trip, you may need to apply for permits during winter. If you want a prime campsite in the Sawtooths or at Ponderosa State Park in McCall, Idaho, you may need reservations months in advance.

Summer is also a busy time for everybody, so if you want your best buddies along, you may want to block out a few weekends or vacation days now to make trips happen.

OK, maybe we're preaching to the choir a little bit, but the point is, sometimes great trips come together at the last minute, and sometimes they happen because of good trip planning.

Here are some things we're looking forward to doing:

I'm nailing down the logistics for this backpacking trip now even though no lottery permits or reservations are required.

It can be challenging to arrange a three-day weekend for several people and pick a date for this area, which might not open until mid-July and could be on fire in August.

But it's worth the effort. The 27-mile loop around the Seven Devils range has scenery that rivals the Sawtooths, and you're also on the rim of Hells Canyon.

Even if you don't go backpacking, it's worth a visit to Seven Devils. You can drive to Windy Saddle with a side trip to a fire lookout, which like all lookouts, has an incredible view. It's a short hike from a parking area to the lookout.

What also makes this area interesting is its close proximity to the Salmon River and Riggins. You get two distinct climates — high alpine terrain and a deep river canyon — within 20 miles of each other, and both accessible by roads.

The hike will be another matter. It's 27 miles of steep, rugged backcountry accessible only by trail. Throw in the high elevation and fickle weather and it should be a good adventure and a physical challenge.

I've been running rivers for decades, and there's nothing like the laid-back vibe of a river trip. A few days on a river gets you away from cellphones, computers and other trappings of civilization and lets you really relax.

My trips used to revolve around whitewater rivers, but in recent years, I've found some mellow rivers that don't cause butterflies in the stomach and white knuckles.

I'm always a little torn between my current favorites and finding a new river
or river section to float.

I really like the South Fork of the Snake in eastern Idaho, which is a beautiful float with good fly fishing.
It's a pretty easy trip logistically because it is freeway almost all the way to the launch, and you can hire South Fork Outfitters at Swan Valley for a shuttle.

It's a good three-day trip with two nights in the canyon, and freeway driving makes the ride home a pretty painless affair.

I might also head across the border into Oregon to the John Day River. I did that float years back and had a blast catching smallmouth bass on a fly rod. There's also great camping in a scenic river canyon.
It's now a permit river, so floaters have to apply on a first-come, first-served basis.

It's about the same driving time as the South Fork of the Snake, and there are commercial shuttles available so you don't have to take two vehicles. It's typically a three- or four-day trip.

If I try a new river, Zimo had a good float on the Grande Ronde River last year, and it's definitely high on my list to check out.

I rode my motorcycle through Copper Basin last year during a weeklong trip and knew I had to go back and explore it more.

The basin is ringed by 11,000-foot peaks, redrock bluffs, foothills with pine and aspen groves, and a meandering, willow-lined Star Hope Creek runs through the basin.

The combination of scenery is spectacular, and there's both developed and undeveloped camping

It looks like a great place to tow my tent trailer and spend a weekend or more hiking, fishing, mountain biking and exploring.

Or a person might just sit and bask in the views and escape the summer heat in the basin, which sits
between 7,600 feet and 8,000 feet elevation.

Getting there takes about five hours from the Treasure Valley, but it will take me longer because I will add a stopover for lunch in Sun Valley, which is always fun during summer.

There's so much to do along U.S. 12 in North Idaho — camping, hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, hot springs soaking, and more.

The scenic drive from Lowell east to the Montana state line winds along the beautiful Lochsa River.

It's a land of shady groves of giant western red cedars and silvery streams gushing over jade-green mossy rocks; stretches of foaming whitewater; blue skies with ospreys soaring at tree-top level and calling with their shrill whistles. One of the signature species of the river is silvery cutthroat trout that lurk in pools.

That's not all. The highway goes through a river canyon filled with unique geology that is rich in Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark history.

There are plenty of campsites along the highway, and you can also book a whitewater trip with a number of outfitters in the area.

It's a five-hour drive from the Treasure Valley to the Lochsa River.

You get there by driving north on Idaho 55 and/or U.S. 95 to Grangeville and taking Idaho 13 to Kooskia and U.S. 12.

For more information, go to and go to Things to Do and Scenic Byways.

I like to do this trip every two or three years to get in tune with the backcountry, and if you haven't done it, start making your plans.

And, with forest fires and the regeneration of vegetation over the years, you get to see how nature works in wilderness areas.

The historic, 101-mile, single-lane Magruder Road in northern Idaho winds along a mountain spine.
This is an adventure you have to be prepared for because it's a rough road in an extremely isolated area, but you'll find solitude for camping, hiking and fishing at alpine lakes.

The Magruder Corridor is a unique road that enables a traveler to drive between two wildernesses: the
1.2 million-acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness to the north, and the 2.3 million-acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to the south.

The road has changed little since it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.

It takes six to eight hours to go from Elk City (east of Grangeville) to Darby, Mont., but you'll want to make it a two- or three-day trip with lots of time for camping, hiking and fishing.

Go to and look under Recreation.

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes bike path follows the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Mullan to Plummer in northern Idaho.

It's paved and goes more than 71 miles along lakes and rivers and through mountain forests.

There's lots to do like camping, hiking and boating on Lake Coeur d'Alene and other lakes.

Make Heyburn State Park your base camp and head out on different activities each day. Exploring the trail on a bike will take up most of your vacation.

For more information, go to