Things to do in Idaho

Amazing Things to Do In Idaho For First Time Visitors

Idaho, located in the Northwest of the United States of America, is a state where you can expect to experience the unexpected. Idaho is brimming with opportunities for great adventures that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world, much less America. 

Many travelers seem to miss out on experiencing the true beauty and thrill of Idaho. They prefer their trips abroad or to more famous American states. Idaho is a state full of unforgettable adventures and experiences that you can access all year round. It has something amazing that you can do or some breathtaking place you can visit irrespective of the level of mercury. 

In the summer, Idaho will offer you magnificent hiking trails. The trails are accompanied by mesmerizing views of the insanely scenic terrain. Winter in Idaho brings the mighty mountains alive. Idaho is home to some of America’s best ski resorts, and you cannot afford to miss out if you love snow. 

It offers so much more to explore in its naturally blessed landscapes and geography. You cannot go wrong with visiting Idaho if you are someone who loves exploring nature’s bounties. Idaho is home to the mighty Sawtooth Range of the Rocky Mountains. It also has hot springs, sparkling glacial lakes in the panhandle, otherworldly and mind-boggling landscapes, and much more. 

Idaho is also home to some of the friendliest communities and extremely rich heritage. Idaho is more than just the Potato State of America. It is a celebration of nature and cultural inspiration. 

You can start planning your next vacation to Idaho. Book your vacation home rental, chalk out a plan and get ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. A vacation in Idaho will help you relieve stress and create lifelong memories of fun-filled adventures. It is a perfect place for a vacation with your family. 

If you are ready to experience Idaho, you need to go through this article to get a better idea of what is in store for you.

You Can’t Miss Out On These Nature’s Jewels When In Idaho

Among the things to do in Idaho, admiring its natural beauty should top your itinerary. There is plenty to see in the incredibly varied landscape of Idaho. It boasts majestic mountains, sage-covered deserts, volcanic fields, whitewater rivers, alpine lakes, spectacular canyons, and much more. 

Idaho’s breathtaking natural jewels make it nature’s wonderland. You can roam in the wilderness, ski in the snow, hike on trails with views to remember for a lifetime, and go on road trips accompanied by its glorious geography. 

You have so many places to add to your list when you decide to take a trip to this state, resting comfortably in nature’s lap. You can find the list of natural wonders you cannot miss out on in Idaho here:

  1. Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon National Monument gets its name from its landscape mimicking the lunar surface. It is located in southeastern Idaho, South of Arco. Its captivating landscape is the result of lava flow from great volcanic eruptions between 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. 

The entire area is geologically active but has seen no eruptions in more than 2000 years. It is one of the best places to visit on your trip to Idaho. It is a testament to the mind-boggling diversity of the state. Its huge cinder cones and massive ocean-like ancient lava flows transport your senses to an extraterrestrial world. 

You can take The Loop drive in its heart or go on a hike on the North Crater Flow Loop Trail. It is a fragile and thriving ecosystem, and you should not wander too far from the trails to help preserve it.

You can visit the craters from Twin Falls by taking a car ride of fewer than two hours. 

  1. Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area

Don’t be fooled by its ominous name Hell’s Canyon is an absolute delight for outdoor enthusiasts. It is located in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, northern Idaho. It is America’s deepest river gorge spanning a gigantic 16-km area. It has been carved by the wild waters of the Snake River.

There are many outdoor activities that you can experience when you visit this marvelous canyon. You can choose to go on hikes with beautiful views, catch fish in the Snake River, go on horseback trails, and also experience white water rafting. You will need a permit for rafting activities. 

It offers a wonderful getaway in winters as well. It transforms into an abode for skiing and snowmobile enthusiasts, along with the national forest surrounding it.

  1. Hagerman Fossil Beds
Hagerman Fossil Beds

Hagerman Fossil Beds fall on the driving route connecting the state capital Boise and Twin Falls. It is a hotbed for fossils from the Pliocene epoch. You can peek at a slice of the history of our planet through abundant fossils found here. 

Here, you will find fossils of camels, mastodons, saber-tooth cats, prehistoric dogs, and more. The area is said to be the place where modern horses evolved. You can find clear remnants of prehistoric horses. These fossils are housed in the Visitor Centre.

  1. City of Rocks 
City of Rocks

City of Rocks is an enormous granite rock formation in south-central Idaho. This natural wonder is world-renowned among rock-climbing enthusiasts. They enjoy great popularity among bikers, hikers, photographers, and bird watchers as well. 

This national reserve is an excellent site for a camping trip on your Idaho visit. It has a dedicated campground for this purpose. The campground provides access to clean vault toilets and drinking water to make your camping experience hassle-free.

  1. Lake Coeur d’Alene
Lake Coeur d’Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene is a 25 miles long lake surrounded by forests and scenic hiking trails. It originated in the last Ice age as a result of glacial deposits. It’s covered by a ring of mountains that enhance its natural beauty. 

You can experience some popular activities on the lake in the summer. These include sailing, fishing, and boating. You can also hike on the surrounding hiking trails to enjoy its scenic beauty from a distance.

  1. Enjoy Skiing At Sun Valley Resort On The Bald Mountain
Sun Valley Resort On The Bald Mountain

Bald Mountain in southern Idaho is home to the very popular Sun Valley Resort. It boasts a magnificent infrastructure for tourists and winter sports enthusiasts. Some of its noteworthy features include 2000 acres of skiable terrain and chairlifts. 

It is a haven for skiers and snow-loving tourists in the winter months. Come summer it is packed with mountain bikers and hikers. If you are looking for breathtaking views, great hospitality, and outdoor adventures, this is the place to be when you plan your vacation in Idaho. Interestingly, here you can enjoy skiing all year long. 

  1. Salmon River
Salmon River

Idaho is enriched with plenty of spectacular waterways, but the Salmon River is one of the best ones. It courses through jaw-dropping natural landscapes and offers an excellent route for river rafting. There are many stretches of this otherwise wild river where you can enjoy self-sustained or guided rafting. 

It is also called the River of No Return because it cuts through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. It has a rich place in American history & culture, and you can learn about it as you sit on its banks, taking in the incredible view.

  1. Lava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs

Lava Hot Springs, located in southeastern Idaho, is a city that has earned fame after the discovery of natural hot springs. It has natural hot water pools that attract visitors all year round. They have different areas, each serving water heated to different temperatures. You can choose to dip in the most suitable part of the pools. 

It is surrounded by a mountainous region and offers hiking trails, water parks, and golf courses. The pools provide a breathtaking view of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. The pools are heated by the lava ground beneath them. 

  1. Lake Pend Oreille 
Lake Pend Oreille 

Idaho’s northern panhandle is blessed with the largest lake in the state. Lake Pend Oreille spans a staggering 43 miles. It is a glacial lake formed by ice that moves south from Canada. It is the 5th deepest lake in all of America, with some of its deepest points going as deep as 1100 feet. Its depth gives it some properties of the open ocean, which in itself makes it a natural marvel.

Its water is crystal clear and makes you appreciate its beauty even more. It houses the Albeni Falls Dam, which increases its size in some areas. In addition to its natural beauty, it is a landmark in US history. Its shores are home to the Navy’s submarine research center at Bayview. You can go boating in its clear water near Bayview and Sandpoint. 


Make The Best Of The Drive To Yellowstone National Park In Idaho

Yellowstone National Park is a world-renowned tourist attraction and spans three states in the US. It also falls in Idaho in addition to Wyoming and Montana. It is one of the top parks in America. It is an excellent place for outdoor recreational activities. 

It is home to numerous natural landmarks that you must see once in your lifetime. Some popular ones include Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone Caldera, Old Faithful geyser, and more. 

It is surrounded by a thriving landscape of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and mighty canyons. It’s famous for being one of the most active geothermal areas on the planet. Thus, it has plenty of geysers and other volcanic phenomena. 

While many visitors directly fly into Idaho Falls, Idaho to visit this natural wonder, we recommend a drive to the park. The drive takes about seven hours, but the route is worth it. You start your drive-to-remember from Idaho’s capital Boise. The route is full of pit stops that you will cherish once you go back. 

You have a lot to see and experience on your car ride to Yellowstone. We have curated a list of recommended things to do in Idaho as you cruise towards the fascinating Yellowstone Park.

  1. Enjoy Sledding At Bruneau Dunes State Park 
Dunes State Park

You cannot skip the largest freestanding dunes in North America as you cruise towards Yellowstone. You will find it in the southeast of Boise. You can stop for a quick hike through the mighty dunes of Bruneau Dunes State Park. 

You may even decide to camp here in one of the designated campsites. You can then enjoy the dune experience on foot or on a sandboard. You can rent sleds from the park or bring your wax-covered cardboard. Sledding down the dunes is a fun experience. Avoid the stop if you’re traveling on an exceptionally hot day. 

  1. Go On A Hike At Hell’s Half Acre 
Hell’s Half Acre 

It’s highly recommended that you take a rest stop at Hell’s Half Acre. It is located near Idaho Falls. You can take a break from driving and go on a short hike across the lava tubes. These are lava rock formations and are guaranteed to inspire awe. 

The lava tubes are a reminder of nature’s power and beauty amid the chaos. You can finish your hike/walk within half an hour if you take the Lower Loop of the tubes. The only thing you would need is some comfortable shoes.

  1. Take The Tree Lined Walk At Boise River Greenbelt

Boise River Greenbelt is a paved recreational pathway that passes through the riverside city parks in the heart of Boise. You can take to its beautiful tree-lined route for a scenic walk in a naturally rich environment. You can probably enjoy this urban marvel before embarking on your road trip from Boise to Yellowstone. 

  1. Don’t Forget To Make A Stop At Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls

You cannot afford to miss out on witnessing the stunning Shoshone Falls on your way to Yellowstone National Park. These incredible falls are located on the mighty Snake River. They are also known as the Niagara Falls of the West.

The sheer power of flowing water behind these walls is a breathtaking experience. You can get the best view of the falls in summer and spring. All you need to do is get to a good vantage point. Witness the cascading Snake River by following one of the short hiking trails surrounding this natural beauty.

Central Idaho: See The Mountains And Lakes In The Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Idaho is home to the Sawtooth Mountains, a part of the Rocky mountain range. Combined with some other notable landmarks like the Salmon River and Stanley Lake, this majestic nature’s slice is designated as the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. 

It is a part of the Sawtooth National Park and serves as one of the prime tourist attractions in Idaho for outdoor recreational activities. It is a crown jewel of Central Idaho and boasts of a diverse landscape. The geographical landscape of this area has been shaped by ancient glacier activity. 

It is an unbelievable culmination of majestic rivers, scenic lakes, mighty Sawtooth mountains, plains, and many more natural landscapes. You can visit the park and stay in designated campgrounds for a few days to experience it in the best way possible. You can take the trail that takes you to the famous Alice Lake. From here, you can spot El Capitan peak, go for a thrilling kayaking adventure, and enjoy some extraordinary views. 

You can enjoy a range of outdoor activities like rock climbing, hiking, white-water rafting, and more. The area is also home to exquisite wildlife, including an abundance of wolves, bears, lynx, and many more wild animals. Hunting and fishing are allowed inside the recreational area because of an abundant wildlife reserve. 

You can spend some time on the hike from Redfish Lake to Saddleback Lake Trail. It’s not an easy hike, but the result is well worth the effort — you will be greeted by breathtaking scenery. We recommend that you also add the majestic Elephant’s Perch to your itinerary.

Take The Road Less Travelled: Idaho Means Road trips

If there’s any place where you need to take a car out on the road and enjoy the spectacular scenery, it is Idaho for sure. Idaho’s richly vast landscapes and an endless network of back-country roads make for a perfect road trip setting. 

You don’t even need to think too much as every other road you take will take you on a beautiful adventure. The panhandled state offers countless unique excursions to choose from. The state is truly a slice of paradise, and you should include at least one road trip in your vacation itinerary when you visit Idaho. 

You will find historical landmarks, national parks, lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, cultural avenues, and much more on most of the road trips in Idaho. Whichever route you choose, you must break it down into parts and stop on the way for rest. Some notable road trip routes include:

  • The Fall Foliage Road Trip 
  • The Magruder Corridor Exploration
  • Taking the Road to Nowhere
  • The International Selkirk Loop Road trip
  • The Southern Idaho Waterfalls Road Trip
  • The Eastern Idaho Waterfalls Road Trip
  • The Mullan Road Exploration
  • The Central Idaho Waterfalls Road Trip
  • The Northern Idaho Waterfalls Road Trip

Experience Idaho: Learn About Idaho Through Its History & Culture

You cannot experience Idaho in its entirety without learning about its history and culture. Here, we are listing some of the major tourist attractions where you can learn about Idaho’s historical and cultural background. 

  1. Experience The Old Idaho State Penitentiary
The Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Old Pen, as it is often referred to, has a 100-year long history of housing prisoners. It ran from 1872 to 1973 before being closed down due to a fire caused by riots. It housed some of the most notorious criminals in Idaho’s history. 

Now it has been converted into a museum where visitors can learn about the history of incarceration in Idaho. It showcases the heritage of the prison from the perspective of inmates and guards. Visitors can view gallows, solitary confinement, and cell blocks. 

  1. Tour The Idaho State Museum
The Idaho State Museum

You can learn everything about Idaho at the Idaho State Museum in Boise. It is home to a huge number of artifacts and historical elements. It has some beautiful exhibits and an exquisite collection of rare artifacts of Idaho’s eventful history. Here, you will learn about Native American History, the development of Idaho as a state, and its cultural evolution with time. 

  1. Visit The Idaho Potato Museum
Idaho Potato Museum

The Idaho Potato Museum is a fitting tribute to the state of Idaho. Idaho is world-renowned for its potatoes, and this museum celebrates this extraordinarily versatile vegetable. We recommend making a stop here and clicking a selfie with the famous giant baked potato at its entrance. 

  1. Add Rexburg To Your Itinerary
Rexburg

Rexburg, a small city some 80-km from Yellowstone, is a great place to unwind and enjoy a meal while on your way to the national park. Here, you can visit the Legacy Flight Museum or the Rexburg Temple. You can also follow the Cress Creek Nature Trail for a quick hike. You can interact with the friendly locals and learn about the town’s history and its culture. 

  1. Reflect On History At The Minidoka National Historic Site

The historic site is located in the Magic Valley, southern Idaho. It is also called the Minidoka Internment Monument because of its historical significance in the second world war. 

It serves as a reminder of the internment of thousands of Japanese immigrants during the second great war. You can visit Minidoka to feel a part of a chapter of history that should not be forgotten. The idea is to reflect on the tumultuous period of history it represents. 

When In Idaho You Cannot Miss Out On An Adventurous Day At Silverwood Theme Park

Silverwood Theme Park resides near the gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene and should be on your list of places to visit when in Idaho. It is touted to be one of the biggest amusement parks in America and the biggest in all of the American Northwest. It is spread in a sprawling 220-acres and contains everything from rollercoasters to water rides. 

It is undoubtedly the most fun theme and water park in the region. It opened its doors in 1988 and slowly became a huge success. It has many thrilling rides like big roller coasters and other large-scale mechanical rides. Its water park area is quite massive and has some really fun water rides. It also houses Boulder Beach to engage all members of your family. 

You can make your family vacation to Idaho a big success by including a trip to Silverwood. The kids will love the ambiance, and you will also get to relax and enjoy yourself. A trip to Silverwood will also allow you to visit the nearby city of Coeur d’Alene. 

FAQs

What is the funnest thing to do in Idaho?

Idaho offers countless fun opportunities. You can choose from a range of outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, and adventure sports. You can visit breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. You can also visit the largest theme park in the US northwest.  

Is there anything worth seeing in Idaho?

Idaho has so much to see that you can’t cover a fraction of it in a single trip. It lies in the lap of nature and is home to some unbelievable landscapes, including gorgeous lakes, mighty mountains, dense forests, monumental national parks, hot springs, waterfalls, lunar-like structures, dunes, and much more. 

What is Idaho famous for?

Idaho is famous for its potatoes. It is also famous for trout, rugged and unspoiled landscapes, and precious stones. 

What is the prettiest part of Idaho?

Idaho’s prettiest part is its natural beauty. It is a treasure trove of nature’s bounty. Its lakes, white-water rivers, national parks, beautiful hike trails, waterfalls, and scenic country roads make it a pretty place to be at. 

Conclusion 

Idaho is guaranteed to take your breath away because of its gorgeous natural beauty. It has so much to do for everyone, from kids to adults, families to solo travelers, and adventurers to laid-back travelers. You can plan your vacation to Idaho and make your itinerary based on the tourist attractions we have talked about.

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