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Can’t-Miss Destinations

Idaho’s odd shape allows for diversity in not only temperature and terrain, but also activities and experiences. Travelling from top to bottom, start with a visit to Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene for water recreation, including canoeing, kayaking, boating and lake cruises. Continuing south through the Palouse agricultural region, plan a stop to learn about the Nez Perce American Indians. Then, embark on a thrilling jet boat tour through Hells Canyon on the Snake River – North America’s deepest river-carved gorge – to see striking scenery, historic sites and wildlife. The small town of Riggins in the Salmon River Canyon is well known for river rafting and fishing, while the lakeside community of McCall is a basecamp for more water sports, hiking, hot springs and winter recreation. Boise, in the southwest corner of the state, is packed with locally owned restaurants, craft breweries and wine tasting rooms, as well as arts, culture and entertainment. Turning east, the communities of Ketchum, Sun Valley and Stanley offer skiing, hot springs and fly-fishing, accented by stunning views. Explore ancient lava fields at Craters of the Moon National Monument as your journey continues eastward. Eastern Idaho also has a number of hot springs, trout streams and waterfalls, and is a popular location for snowmobiling in the winter.

 

Four Seasons of Adrenaline

Idaho also has more whitewater than any other state in the continental USA. In the spring and summer, book a half- or full-day adventure on the Payette River just north of Boise, or half-to multi-day trips on the Salmon River in central Idaho. Fall is the ideal season for mountain biking and hiking. Local Idahoans relish the lower temperatures, clear skies and fall colors that signal the coming winter. Idaho’s 18 ski areas offer skiing the way it ought to be – on fresh powder, with short lines and under bluebird skies. Destination resorts such as Schweitzer Mountain, Sun Valley and Grand Targhee, as well as local ski areas, including Lookout Pass, Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area and Tamarack Resort, welcome winter travelers. Activities include alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoe trails, tubing hills, fat-tire biking, cat- and heli-skiing, and snowmobile tours. State parks also open their trails in the winter for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing.

 

Bright Stars and Dark Skies

Idaho’s beauty doesn’t end when the sun goes down. The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, which includes the communities of Ketchum, Sun Valley and Stanley, and the Sawtooth Mountains, was designated in December 2017 and is one of only 13 Dark Sky Reserves in the world, and the only one in the United States. Idaho’s low population base coupled with its rural landscape and wilderness lands makes it easy to find dark skies. Set up camp in the Dark Sky Reserve, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Bruneau Dunes State Park, or just about anywhere in Idaho’s rural or wilderness areas, and marvel at the unbelievably brilliant, starry sky. Treat yourself to an out-of-this-world experience you won’t soon forget.

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Fun Fact

Manhole cover representing the ‘Center of the Universe’ in Wallace, Idaho
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The city of Wallace proclaimed their community the Center of the Universe in 2004. Today, a manhole cover represents the spot said to be the exact Center of the Universe; it is celebrated yearly by residents of the city.

Photo: Visit Idaho

The epic sand dune at Bruneau Dunes State Park in Idaho
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Bruneau Dunes State Park contains North America's tallest single-structured sand dune – at 143 meters high.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Stunning view over Idaho’s Shoshone Falls
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Shoshone Falls on the Snake River is known as The Niagara of the West. Spilling over a 65-meter drop near Twin Falls, the falls are actually higher than Niagara Falls.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Must see places

Boise River Greenbelt

This 40-kilometer bicycle and pedestrian path along the Boise River connects 340 hectares of wilderness and 15 city parks. Spend an afternoon birdwatching, swimming in the natatorium pool, picnicking or playing golf. 

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Volcanoes and other intense geologic activity formed this dramatic park over the past 15,000 years. Visitors can hike, go caving, explore lava tubes and camp on a lava field.

 

Aerial view of the Lava Hot Springs pool at the resort

Lava Hot Springs

Steaming hot mineral water bubbles up from deep within the earth into the five pools at the springs, where visitors can relax and rejuvenate. Families love the water slides, Kiddie Cove and Olympic-size pool.

Snake River

Snake River

The Snake River forms much of Idaho’s western border. Go hiking at Snake River Canyon Rim Trails, cast a fly-fishing line at Henry’s Fork, visit Shoshone Falls or go jet boating at Hells Canyon.

Interacting with incredible animals at the World Center for Birds of Prey

World Center for Birds of Prey

See eagles, owls, hawks, condors, falcons and other endangered birds of prey from around the world at this breeding and education center in Boise. Watch live demonstrations and visit the interpretive center.

Paragliding over Sun Valley

Sun Valley

It’s known as a premier ski area, but Sun Valley draws outdoors enthusiasts, art lovers and foodies all year round. In addition to multiple ski resorts, find golf courses, bike trails, craft breweries and art galleries.

Silverwood Theme Park

The Northwest’s largest outdoor amusement park, Silverwood has 70-plus rides, shows, attractions and a water park. Open from May through September, this park in Athol is a great place for family fun.

Clear waters and blue skies at Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake

Go boating and hiking in the summer and ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter at the “Caribbean of the Rockies” that straddles the Idaho-Utah border. Keep your eyes open for deer, moose, cougars and cranes.
 

Family cycling along the Route of the Hiawatha near Wallace Idaho

Route of the Hiawatha

Along this 24-kilometer rail trail near the Idaho-Montana border, find 10 train tunnels and seven trestles spanning canyons and forests in the Bitterroot Mountains. Bring your own bicycle or rent one at Lookout Pass Ski Area.

Taking a boat tour of Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Dramatic vistas await those exploring the USA’s deepest river gorge that forms the Idaho-Oregon border. Drive the scenic byway, go on a contemplative hike or take a thrilling tour of the Snake River aboard a jet boat.

Canoeing on the North Fork of the Payette River in Idaho
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Experience Idaho