Discover Idaho, often hailed as the planet’s breathtaking beauty, unlocks a treasure trove of natural wonders waiting to be explored. Appropriately nicknamed the “Gem State,” Idaho shines with an array of landscapes that beckons travelers to immerse themselves in a realm where tranquility and adventure intertwine. This distinct playground caters to the desires of every outdoor enthusiast, offering both exhilarating feats and serene communion with nature amidst its majestic peaks and tranquil valleys.
Whether your spirit seeks the rush of adrenaline or the solace of the untamed, Idaho’s diverse landscapes hold the key to your dream adventure. In this guide, we embark on a journey through some of the most captivating places to visit in Idaho, each ready to leave an indelible mark on your travel memoirs.
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Explore the Rockies at Sawtooth National Recreation Area
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) is a paradise for hikers and campers, offering more than 700 miles of trails that crisscross rugged mountains and crystal-clear lakes. Located in central Idaho near Sun Valley Resort and Redfish Lake Lodge, the Sawtooth NRA encompasses three distinct ecosystems. These include the sagebrush steppe of the lower valley floor, the foothill forests with ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees, and spruce-fir forests blanket higher elevations.
The alpine terrain here makes it a perfect tourist destination whether you want to trek amidst the one-of-a-kind mountain landscape or enjoy a peaceful picnic amidst serene beauty. The area has plenty of camping spots to choose from. French Creek Horse Campground, reaching an elevation of over 8,000 feet, is a perfect destination for horse lovers. Meanwhile, Iron Bog Lake Campground, surrounded by scenic views, provides excellent boating access, making it popular among water enthusiasts.
Kayak your way across Lake Coeur d’Alene.
For water enthusiasts who love paddling through vast waterscapes with their favorite kayak or paddleboard, Lake Coeur d’Alene is a must-visit destination. Formed during glacial activity more than two million years ago, this lake is close to Spokane, Washington, about a half-hour north of Idaho’s capital, Boise. It is one of America’s most picturesque natural wonders, combining woodlands, lakefronts, and a surrounding mountain city that could make anyone feel like they’re in a fairy tale.
This pristine water body in the northern Idaho Panhandle offers abundant wildlife, miles of shoreline for beachcombing, and open waters with plenty of water skiing and wakeboarding opportunities. And if you are lucky, during the right season (February – April), you can witness a magnificent bald eagle migration tour.
Heli-skiing at Sun Valley Resort
If watching from afar those world-class skiers with their wild jump lines through vast stretches of white powder has always fascinated you, or you are just looking to get that adrenaline rush, you should try heli-skiing at Sun Valley Resort. This ski resort is known for its unending snow coverage throughout late autumn to early spring, providing an ideal playground for extreme skiers.
Their privately owned helicopters will whisk you away to superb backcountry terrain, far from any crowds, allowing you an exclusive and personalized experience. Alongside professionally trained guides, they prioritize safety, setting them apart from public resort areas where safety might take a backseat amidst crowd management, especially during peak seasons.
Visit Shoshone Falls for Awe-Inspiring Scenery
Often referred to as the “Niagara Falls of the West,” these majestic falls are situated on the Snake River, just a few miles upstream from Twin Falls City. The Shoshone Falls stands at an impressive height of 212 feet, cascading across a width of up to 900 feet, creating a breathtaking spectacle amid the lush green forests surrounding the area.
From mid-April to mid-August, the dams along the river reduce irrigation flow, allowing the mist-shrouded falls to take center stage. This period is ideal for witnessing the falls in their full glory as they transform into a captivating display of overflowing cascades. This transformation makes Shoshone Falls a favorite among nature enthusiasts, photographers, and anyone captivated by its beauty, whether during the day or under the night sky, earning it the endearing nickname “The Niagara Falls of the West.”
Visit Craters of Moon National Monument & Preserve
For an extraordinary and genuinely out-of-this-world experience that deserves a spot on your bucket list, the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve should be at the top. This lunar-like landscape, over 750,000 acres, encompasses more than 60 volcanic craters and an extensive network of lava tubes.
Situated in South Central Idaho near the town of Arco, this location showcases a remarkable testament to the enduring geothermal forces that continue to shape our planet. Over centuries, molten lava has surged through the Earth’s crust, giving rise to this surreal and otherworldly grayscale terrain. It’s a natural wonder that might be hard to believe exists in your backyard.
Drive along Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
For those who adore scenic drives with stunning vistas that linger in your memory long after your journey concludes, or for those seeking the roads less traveled – the hidden gems that driving enthusiasts can proudly share stories about – the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway within the Snake River Hills delivers on all fronts.
The unobstructed panoramic view ahead, flanked by vast mountain ranges on either side, creates a surreal and awe-inspiring setting. This elevation of your road maneuvering skills is complemented by occasional stopovers at world-renowned vineyards, unique coffee shops, and charming gift shops. This comprehensive experience is simply to be noticed while exploring Idaho.
Ldaho is an unparalleled playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of adventures against its stunning natural backdrop. With something to captivate every heart, each twist and turn in this scenic wonderland unveils unexplored wonders and unique experiences waiting to be cherished. So, if adventure is on your agenda, pack your gear and set out to these captivating destinations. Whether embarking on a journey with family and friends or venturing solo, Idaho promises an exhilarating escape immersed in nature’s embrace, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.