Since I spent a lot of my childhood near Coeur d' Alene (core-duh-lane) Lake in Idaho I was fortunate to be able to take in some sailing and canoeing. The lake is well-suited for sailing since the low hills to the southwest permit steady winds from the Palouse. There is nowhere prettier than the Northwest when the sun shines, but when it doesn't you'd rather be elsewhere.
At the south end of Lake Coeur d' Alene is the inlet from the St. Joe River. This scenic river provides a wonderful canoe trip through basically class 1 water. For the adventurous one can put in at Avery some 50 miles above the lake.
The lower navigable stretches of the river meander for 38 miles and are referred to as "the Shadowy St. Joe." It's not as much fun canoeing here as upstream and the mosquitos love you in the evening.
I started hiking with some friends in Idaho using real food and old boyscout backpacks. When I got to college we began exploring theCascades with dryfood and better equipment. You can't camp at Image Lake any more (top left), but it used to provide a glorious view of Glacier Peak in the morning.
This is the entrance to the Enchantments Basin, a series of lakes set in granite basins. Dragontail peak is in the background.
This is the approach to Cathedral Pass near the Canadian border and 11 miles from the road in the Pasayten Wilderness.
Though Hurrican Ridge is in the Olympic Mountains to the west. This seems as good a place as any for a view of the area.
The classic whitewater adventure goes through the Grand Canyon. It takes a week in a 26 foot motorized raft. This a big water trip which is colder than you would expect, though, there are a number of side streams to swim in.
Another great rafting river is the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho. Lots of hot springs along the trip to relax in. The trip begins in pine and fir forest and transitions to a rocky, dry landscape. It is amazing how much of the Salmon River forest has been burned.
I tried canoeing and rafting in a few other places. The Shuswap River in central British Columbia is an amazing feature. Water temperatures must be near 80 in the summer. This is where I found that you can canoe upstream.
The Klamath River in northern California provides a "big water" experience not too unlike the main Salmon. Lots of gold dredges floating in the river at various places. Ishi Pishi falls about half way to the coast I'm told is a class 6 which means you likely won't come through it as a whole person. I viewed it from the road and would tend to agree. The river flows around and under house-size boulders.