en
en es

Idaho comes alive in the summer. Wildflowers bloom, the rivers run fast and cold, campgrounds open their gates. It’s the season to get outside and fill these long, golden days with a variety of adventures. Lucky for us, Idaho is home to wildly different landscapes to explore — from high mountain lakes to desert canyons and everything in between.

Whether you’re looking to whitewater raft, rock climb, paddle board, or explore more of Idaho’s rich history and culture, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a diverse mix of adventure options from around the state.

This guide is proudly produced in partnership with Visit Idaho.

Northern Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
Idaho’s panhandle may not be very wide, but it’s dense in its natural beauty. The northern region of the state is home to the thickest forests and deepest lakes, and is best seen while hiking or biking — or from the water.

Hike among giants in the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars

Thirteen miles north of Nordman, there’s a pristine grove of old-growth cedars...

Visit

Hike among giants in the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars

Thirteen miles north of Nordman, there’s a pristine grove of old-growth cedars with trees that are estimated to be between 800 and 3,000 years old. And if the awe-inspiring giant trees aren’t enough (12 feet in diameter and 150 feet tall!), a one-mile loop trail leads you past Upper and Lower Granite Falls.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Paddle Priest Lake

Hiding below the crest of the Selkirk Mountains, the massive and incredibly scenic Priest Lake...

Visit

Paddle Priest Lake

Hiding below the crest of the Selkirk Mountains, the massive and incredibly scenic Priest Lake is fringed by forests of cedar, fir, and tamarack. The best way to experience the lake’s quiet coves and corners is by canoe or kayak. While you're at it, make sure to follow the 2.5-mile clear-bottom thoroughfare that connects the lake's northern tip to remote Upper Priest Lake, a serene spot only accessible by boat and trail, with lots of secret beaches to swim and rest on (you can also camp).

Photo: Visit Idaho

Bike the most spectacular trails

Northern Idaho is home to two notable cycling trails...

Visit

Bike the most spectacular trails

Northern Idaho is home to two notable cycling trails that are both hailed as some of the most spectacular rail-to-trail rides in the country. The Route of the Hiawatha is 15+ miles of converted railroad track that’s now a family-friendly downhill coast, passing through ten tunnels and over seven trestle bridges (up to 230 feet high!). For something longer, try the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a 72-mile paved route that runs through the panhandle's hills, historic towns, and farmlands, connecting the towns of Mullan and Plummer.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Soak up the sun at City Beach in Sandpoint

Grassy lawns, swimming areas, boating, picnicking, basketball courts...

Visit

Soak up the sun at City Beach in Sandpoint

Grassy lawns, swimming areas, boating, picnicking, basketball courts — no matter how you want to spend a summer day, City Beach is the place to be in Sandpoint. Gaze out over the waters of Lake Pend Oreille to the mountains of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness beyond. If you have time, check out the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, a 33-mile route that starts in Sandpoint and showcases the area's epic glacial history — and the beauty of the Kaniksu National Forest.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Take a walk back in time at the Center of the Universe

Wallace, Idaho, declared itself the Center of the Universe...

Visit

Take a walk back in time at the Center of the Universe

The town of Wallace, Idaho, declared itself the Center of the Universe in 2004. Along with its quirky claim to intergalactic fame, Wallace is also the “Silver Capital of the World,” and the entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Walking the main drag transports you back to the late 1800s, thanks to its historical architecture and museums that celebrate the town’s heritage.

Photo: Visit Idaho

North Central Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
Below the panhandle, the state borders begin to widen, as do the valleys. North Central Idaho features a dramatic landscape shaped by some of the most scenic rivers in the country.

Explore Indigenous history at Nez Perce National Historical Park

Nez Perce National Historical Park tells the story of the Niimiipuu people...

Visit

Explore Indigenous history at Nez Perce National Historical Park

Nez Perce National Historical Park tells the story of the Niimíipuu people, commonly known as the Nez Perce Tribe, native to the Columbia River Plateau in what is now Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The visitor center in Spalding is the place to learn about the conflicts the Niimíipuu faced and how they’ve adapted to change, but make sure to also tour at least some of the historical park itself, which comprises 38 sites scattered over four states, with much to see and discover.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Raft the mighty Salmon River...with the whole family

A trip on the Lower Salmon is the ultimate escape...

Visit

Raft the mighty Salmon River...with the whole family

A family rafting trip on the Lower Salmon encompasses so much — you'll paddle through spectacular canyons, have a chance to see Native American pictographs and other historic sites, and get ample opportunity to jump in and cool off in the calmer sections. Not only are there legitimate roller coaster rapids (that the kids can safely tackle with trained guides at hand), the river is also bordered by white sand beaches that are perfect for camping.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Camp out at Hells Gate

This state park south of Lewiston is the downstream entrance to Hells Canyon...

Visit

Camp out at Hells Gate

This state park south of Lewiston is the downstream entrance to Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in America (yep, sorry Grand Canyon), coming in at 7,993 feet. Despite its dark name, Hells Gate is a natural oasis on the banks of the Snake River. There's indigenous history here, too — the site was once a Niimíipuu (Nez Perce) village, and the remains of pit houses are visible.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Southwest Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
The region of Southwest Idaho runs from the sagebrush steppe in the corner of the state up through river valleys, past the capital city of Boise, and on into mountains and rocky canyons. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot going on here.

Jet boat Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon is America’s deepest river gorge — deeper even than the Grand Canyon...

Visit

Jet boat Hells Canyon

In case you clicked straight through that last section and missed it, Hells Canyon is America’s deepest river gorge — deeper than the Grand Canyon by nearly 2,000 feet. The landscape is wildly dramatic here, and taking it in from the water will provide a memorable perspective. A jet boat is a thrilling (dare we say the best?) way to cruise the canyon and navigate up and down this famous river.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Sip your way through Idaho wine country

The wine scene in Idaho is flourishing...

Visit

Sip your way through Idaho wine country

The wine scene in Idaho is flourishing thanks to the hot days, cool nights, and rich volcanic soil of the western Snake River Valley. There are tasting rooms in Boise and Garden City, and just 45 minutes from Boise you’ll find vineyards like Ste. Chapelle Winery, Williamson Orchards & Vineyards, and Sawtooth Winery also offer tours and tastings onsite, so you can see right where the grapes are grown. (Note: If you're thinking "Wine scene? Idaho?" you're out of the loop. Google it. It's a big deal.)

Photo: Visit Idaho

Shoot the Staircase on the South Fork

If you’re looking for a wild rush of whitewater, the South Fork of the Payette...

Visit

Shoot the Staircase on the South Fork

If you’re looking for a wild rush of whitewater, the South Fork of the Payette is one of the most popular runs in the state, for good reason. It’s got a mix of class III and IV rapids (including the epic Staircase) and incredible scenery — try a nearly endless ponderosa forest. The adrenaline rush does come with a side of risk, though, so be sure your whitewater adventure is with a licensed guide on this wild stretch of water.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Sandboard the tallest freestanding dune in North America

Brunea Dunes State Park has a thrill you won't find in many other places...

Visit

Sandboard the tallest freestanding dune in North America

Bruneau Dunes State Park is an awesome place to hike, camp, and fish, but it's the dunes themselves that offer the greatest adventure. Hike up 400+ feet — remember, it's sand, so it's a slog — and then sled or sandboard down for a thrill. And then, if you have it in you, repeat. (Note: Idaho's only public observatory is located right here, so stick around when the sun goes down.)

Photo: Visit Idaho

South Central Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
Beyond the farms and fields this region is known for, there are cliffs, canyons, and caverns galore. You might get dirty, you’ll almost definitely get wet, and it will all be 100% worth it for the adventures in store.

Climb the Creekside Towers

City of Rocks is the pinnacle of rock-climbing in Southern Idaho — literally...

Visit

Climb the Creekside Towers

City of Rocks National Reserve is home to rock spires, turrets, fins, and domes that climbers from around the world come to scale. The Creekside Towers are some of the most popular routes here, and they'll have you feeling like you've climbed a castle tower (with a view of the Idaho wilderness). The hiking is awesome, too — check out Bath Rock, Window Arch, and South Fork Circle Creek trails, and don't forget the camera.

Photo: Visit Idaho

SUP to Shoshone Falls

The falls known as the Niagara of the West are impressive to witness...

Visit

SUP to Shoshone Falls

Are you seeing this photo? The falls known as the Niagara of the West are impressive to witness from the canyon viewpoint (or even on a screen), but it’s far cooler to see the water up close.  For a full day's adventure (and a solid arm workout), take a SUP or kayak on the Snake River from Waterfront Centennial Park in Twin Falls and paddle up the canyon to bathe in the rainbow mist of the falls. Sure beats paying $20 and cramming onto a 300-person boat (sorry, Niagara)!

Photo: Visit Idaho

Say hello to the Hagerman Horse

Idaho’s state fossil is the first true horse...

Visit

Say hello to the Hagerman Horse

Idaho’s state fossil is the first true horse. It’s a small animal that looks more like a zebra than the horses we know today, but the scientifically significant species originated right here in North America. At Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, you can see the Hagerman Horse as well as other fossils from the Pliocene, like the saber-toothed cat, mastodon, camel, and ground sloth.

Photo: Courtesy of the NPS

Explore water features at Thousand Springs

The amount of water that flows as if from nowhere is mind boggling...

Visit

Explore water features at Thousand Springs

The abundance of water that covers the area around Thousand Springs State Park, rising as if from nowhere, must have been mind boggling to the first European explorers. Thousands of gallons of water flow from an underground aquifer to form countless waterfalls, springs, slot canyons, wildly blue pools, and wetlands, all protected by this state park that comprises multiple units and has so much to explore.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Southeast Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
This part of the state feels like a deep breath and an exhale. Maybe it’s the mineral springs, the big skies, or the wildlife, but something in the air here feels powerfully peaceful — and also a little quirky. This is the land of Napoleon Dynamite, after all.

Swim in turquoise waters

Known as the Caribbean of the Rockies because its water is a stunning turquoise...

Visit

Swim in turquoise waters

Known as the "Caribbean of the Rockies" because its water is a stunning turquoise hue, Bear Lake is split equally between Idaho and Utah. It's 109 square miles, 250,000 years old, and slowly — slowly — getting even deeper than it already is. On the Idaho side, Bear Lake State Park is home to campgrounds, hiking trails, and swimming areas that let you bathe in the calcium-rich, azure waters. Or swim. Or scuba dive. Take your pick.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Relax in world-famous hot pools

The city of Lava Hot Springs was built around pools of warm geothermal springs...

Visit

Relax in world-famous hot pools

The city of Lava Hot Springs was built around warm geothermal springs with luxuriously smooth water that doesn’t have that sulfur scent of other natural springs. Take a soak in these world-famous hot pools, or enjoy speed slides at the Olympic Swimming Complex. If that’s not enough excitement, you can hop on an inner tube and float the Portneuf River before returning to the steaming pools to relax.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Explore Minnetonka Cave

Spelunking is the perfect retreat from a hot summer day...

Visit

Explore Minnetonka Cave

Spelunking is the perfect retreat from a hot summer day. Underground in the cool labyrinth of Minnetonka Cave, you’ll find an enormous limestone cave with nine rooms full of stalactites, stalagmites, and branded travertine. (Notes: Guided tours are offered from mid-June through Labor Day. There are 444 stairs in total, and the deeper you go, the colder it gets. Bring a jacket!)

Photo: Visit Idaho

Uncover spuds (of knowledge) at the Idaho Potato Museum

In the small town of Blackfoot, you can learn all about everyone's favorite root vegetable...

Visit

Uncover spuds (of knowledge) at the Idaho Potato Museum

In the small town of Blackfoot, you can learn all about everyone's favorite root vegetable at the Idaho Potato Museum. Soak up knowledge about Idaho's most notable crop with tater trivia and pose for a photo next to the museum's giant baked potato — and, obviously, grab some french fries or a hot baked potato from the Potation Station Cafe. (There's nothing not great about this place.)

Photo: Visit Idaho

Hike to a hidden lake

At the end of a half-mile trail, Bloomington Lake is a bright jewel...

Visit

Hike to a hidden lake

At the end of a half-mile trail (and a 12-mile drive down a dirt road), Bloomington Lake is a bright jewel set against a backdrop of the jagged striations and layered cliffs of the Bear Lake Valley (it's near Bear Lake, so pop on over when you're in the area). This "hidden" lake is a great place for an afternoon swim after a short hike. Don't miss the rope swing!

Photo: Visit Idaho

Eastern Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
Thick forests, impossibly tall mountains, moose, bison, and bears. Is this Alaska? Nope, just good ‘ol Eastern Idaho. The Teton Range and the Yellowstone Caldera define this region of the state with their grandeur. Things feel big here.

Perfect your cast in the caldera

Henry’s Fork in Island Park is one of the most famous trout fishing streams in the U.S....

Visit

Perfect your cast in the caldera

Henry's Fork in Island Park is one of the most famous trout-fishing streams in the United States. Anglers from around the world come to fly-fish these abundant "blue-ribbon" waters. The scenery of Island Park is just as spectacular, so even if the fish aren't biting, there aren't many better places to enjoy a summer afternoon. This is one of the biggest calderas on Earth — and it's the only one that's plainly visible.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Hike to Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls in Swan Valley is a picture-perfect waterfall...

Visit

Hike to Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls in Swan Valley is a picture-perfect waterfall that appears suddenly and cascades 60 feet from a lush hillside into the Snake River. The hike is short (well under 100 feet) but requires sturdy water-friendly shoes and a careful eye on kids — there are no guardrails. (Tip: Tear your eyes away from the water to check for bald eagles and moose.)

Photo: Visit Idaho

Saddle up at Linn Canyon Ranch

You might as well experience cowboy country from the saddle...

Visit

Saddle up at Linn Canyon Ranch

You might as well experience Cowboy Country from the saddle, right? Linn Canyon Ranch hosts horseback riding in the western foothills of the Tetons, where you get to see miles and miles of this big country — mountains, fields of wildflowers, glowing aspen groves — at the easy pace of a horse’s gait. If the schedule allows, a sunset dinner ride is the way to go.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Cruise the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

This spectacular scenic drive just outside of Yellowstone National Park...

Visit

Cruise the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

This spectacular 29-mile scenic drive just outside of Yellowstone National Park leads to two of Idaho’s most gorgeous waterfalls on the Snake River: Upper and Lower Mesa Falls. Apart from the stunning falls, the Teton Mountains rise tall in the east, and there’s a good chance you’ll spot wildlife (like bald eagles) as you approach Harriman State Park. The route takes you up to the aforementioned — and amazing — Island Park area.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Central Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
Central Idaho has hundreds of alpine lakes, the largest contiguous designated wilderness in the Lower 48, and an impressive concentration of geothermal hot springs studding the mountainous landscape. Good luck seeing it all!

Soak up a sunrise at Sawtooth Lake

The Sawtooth Mountain Range is Idaho at its best...

Visit

Soak up a sunrise at Sawtooth Lake

A condensed arm of the Rockies, the Sawtooth Mountain Range is Idaho at its best — and it's the ultimate spot to catch a sunrise. The pink-hued granite peaks are sublime at dawn, especially when they're reflected in a mirror-calm alpine lake. Sawtooth Lake is a great day hike, but you'll need to make it an overnighter to catch sun-up. It's a 10-mile round-trip trek from the Iron Creek trailhead.

Photo: Shutterstock/JK Floyd

Dig into Idaho's mining history

It makes sense that the Gem State would have a tremendous mining heritage...

Visit

Dig into Idaho's mining history

It makes sense that the Gem State would have a tremendous mining heritage. In the mountains of Central Idaho near Challis, the ghost towns of Bayhorse, Custer, and Bonanza are cool spots to get close to gold dredges and other ephemera left behind from the rush. Together, they're protected in Land of the Yankee Fork State Park, which has an awesome trail system that makes it easy to navigate.

Photo: Visit Idaho

Make it a multi-day on the Middle Fork of the Salmon

Rafting in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness is the most off-grid adventure possible...

Visit

Make it a multi-day on the Middle Fork of the Salmon

Rafting in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness is pretty much the most off-grid adventure possible these days. It's a wilderness area so big and wild you'd need multiple days to see even a fraction of the incredible landscape — at well over two million acres, it's the largest contiguous wilderness area in the continental U.S. A guided trip is your best bet for comfort and safety through the rapids and river bends. 

Photo: Dusty Klein

Take your taste buds on a trip in the Wood River Valley

The culinary scenes of the towns of Ketchum and Hailey hide dining adventures...

Visit

Take your taste buds on a trip in the Wood River Valley

This area of Idaho may be more famous for its ski resort (we're talking about Sun Valley), but the culinary scenes in the neighboring towns of Ketchum and Hailey are worth visiting year-round for dining adventures. There's a huge variety of local fare, including a distillery, gourmet vegan, and intimate spots with experimental menus. Shout out to Perry's french toast and Warfield's No Return Gin, both in Ketchum. 

Photo: Visit Idaho

Stargaze from the Moon

Not only is Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve an otherworldly landscape...

Visit

Stargaze from the Moon

Not only is Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve an otherworldly landscape to explore during the day (hello, incredible lava fields), at night you get to experience galaxies of stars, too. It was recently designated an International Dark Sky Park, so you know that as long as there aren’t clouds in the sky, the view will be out-of-this-world. Kind of like the landscape.

Photo: Visit Idaho


This guide is proudly produced in partnership with Visit Idaho.
We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. For more information on how we use cookies consult our revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Disable Cookies I accept