FROM THE RAZOR-EDGE PEAKS of the Sawtooths to Bruneau’s 400 ft sand dunes, eerie lava plateaus to sage-covered desert and rushing whitewater rivers — Idaho’s one diverse state.

Wild to its very core, with 37 million acres of public lands open to explore, even the average photographer seems to come back from the Gem State wielding Ansel Adams-level shots. Here are 25 photos of Idaho we can’t stop looking at.


Goldbug Hot Springs

It might take two miles of steep switchbacks to get here, but the reward is bathing in these incredible pools with a view. Set in the Lemhi Range between the towns of Challis and Salmon, the remoteness of these waterfall-fed springs means most folks go without their suits. But in summer, at least wear a hat—that high-desert sun can be brutal.
Photo: Leah Grunzke


Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Ketchum

Every October, 1,500 woolies strut their stuff down Ketchum's Main Street in the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival. This five-day fest pays homage to the West's ranching heritage (and specifically to the region's Basque ties) with a ton of events including sheepdog competitions, cooking classes, wool workshops, dancing, music, and storytelling.
Photo: Michael Edminster


Pioneer Cabin, Sun Valley

Originally built in 1937 as a ski shelter, today Pioneer Cabin marks the 9,500ft summit of one of Sun Valley’s most popular hikes. Famous for its views out to the western front of the Pioneer Range, the 7.5-mile trail takes hikers through wildflower meadows.
Photo: Ray J. Gadd


Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Covering over 1,117 square miles, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the Lower 48. Despite receiving only about 10-16 inches of precipitation a year, 375 plant species (including these pink monkeyflowers) grow here.
Photo: Bureau of Land Management


Mountain bikes and hot springs

Slipping into a backcountry pool after cruising around on a mountain bike all day is a pretty great experience. This shot was taken on the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route, which passes by a number of designated wilderness areas including the Frank Church-River of No Return and the Selway-Bitterroot. Cycling by such remote scenery means you'll get plenty of chances to spot megafauna—look out for elk and deer.
Photo: Casey Greene


Barbecue on the Middle Fork

You won't find electricity or cell service when you go out on a multi-day rafting trip along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, one of the most remote areas in the contiguous US. But go with a local outfitter like Solitude River Trips and you will get open-grill barbecues on the beach, drinks on ice, your tent set up for you, and 106 miles of world-class rafting through a guaranteed 300 rapids. Adrenaline junkies should check out the river in June—that's when those Class III and IV sections are at their gnarliest.
Photo: Solitude River Trips


Looking out over the South Fork of the Snake River

126 bird species make their home along the South Fork of the Snake River, including 21 kinds of raptor. The National Audubon Society has designated the South Fork as an Important Bird Area. It's also pretty damn scenic.
Photo: mypubliclands


Paragliding, Sun Valley

Sun Valley's Bald Mountain may be famous for its ski slopes, but it's also a 3,200 ft-high launchpad for paragliders. If you fancy your chances, grab the chairlift to the top and then soar off the crown of Baldy on a tandem flight with local outfitter Fly Sun Valley. They're experts at searching out those summer thermals.
Photo: Fly Sun Valley


Boise Union Pacific Depot

Built in the colonial Spanish style by the Union Pacific Railroad and opened to great fanfare in 1925, today the Boise Depot is a public meeting space that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Boise itself proves that Idaho has long shaken off its ‘nothing more than potato fields and farmers’ stereotype. Known for its microbreweries and rocking local music scene, one of the sweetest things about the state capital is the Greenbelt—a tree-lined 25-mile bike path and walking trail that follows the river through the heart of the city.
Photo: Charles Knowles


Backpacking the Centennial Trail

Idaho's 900-mile Centennial Trail is the place to unplug—no cell service, no wifi, just pure, uninterrupted hiking through Idaho’s backcountry. Running from the state's southern border with Nevada to its meeting point with British Columbia, thru-hikers normally start in the south in early June, when the snow levels are beginning to melt, with the hopes of finishing the hike by September / early October.
Photo: Miguel Vieira


Fly fishing at Silver Creek

Forty miles south of Sun Valley, Silver Creek is often hailed as the “crown jewel” of the Rockies’ spring creeks. The upper section is the spot to test your skills (and patience) as you cast to rainbows and brown trout.
Photo: Ray J. Gadd


Hells Canyon

Carved by the Snake River, at its highest point Hells Canyon descends 7,993 feet to the valley floor. The deepest canyon in the US—yes, deeper even than the Grand Canyon—it acts as a natural border between the states of Idaho and Oregon.
Photo: Todd Fahrner


Little Redfish Lake

The Sawtooth area is home to hundreds of lakes, including Little Redfish and its big brother upstream, which are created by melted alpine glaciers. The biggest include Alturas Lake, Pettit Lake, Yellow Belly Lake, Stanley Lake, and Sawtooth Lake.
Photo: Charles Knowles


Hells Canyon fishing

The Snake River provides world-class fishing, but there's plenty going on above the canyon walls as well. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area has 900 miles of hiking trails, and the Seven Devils Mountains reach 9,393 feet at their tallest. Then there’s the Hells Canyon Wilderness—it covers 216,981 acres across Oregon and Idaho.
Photo: Nan Palmero


Pastoral Idaho

There’s more to Idaho’s landscape than mountains and rivers. Agriculture represents a substantial portion of the state’s economy and is responsible for more than 100,000 jobs...all of which equates to rural scenes like this.
Photo: Loren Kerns


Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

Supporting one of the world’s densest concentrations of nesting birds of prey, the Snake River Birds of Prey NCA was established in 1993 to support the falcons, eagles, hawks, and owls that make this area their home.
Photo: mypubliclands


Sunrise at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Named after the camas flowers pictured above, Camas Prairie is near Hill City in southwestern Idaho. The flowers, which bloom in early spring, were an important food staple for Native Americans and settlers in the Old West, and contributed to the survival of the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In fall, the bulbs would be boiled or pit-roasted. When roasted, the camas bulbs are said to taste like an especially sweet yam.
Photo: The Knowles Gallery


Perrine Bridge BASE jumper

Four miles from the town of Twin Falls, the Perrine Bridge sees BASE jumpers come from all over the world to legally freefall 486 feet into the Snake River Canyon. Unless you’ve got a ton of BASE jumping experience under your belt, though, taking your first leap alone isn't recommended. Tandem BASE will help you make the jump safely.
Photo: Chris McNaught


Frank Church Wilderness Area

Covering 2,366,907 acres of untamed land, the Frank Church Wilderness Area is the Lower 48’s largest single wilderness area. The canyons and crystal clear water of the river draw adventure-seeking rafters and kayakers who come to paddle one of the longest stretches of undammed water in the country.
Photo: Ray J. Gadd


Sawtooth National Recreation Area

The 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area is arguably more wild than any national park—precisely because it’s not one. Idaho’s most famous mountain range is known for its big wall climbing and mountaineering. Its tallest peaks are Thompson Peak (10,751 feet) and Mount Cramer (10,716 feet).
Photo: Sawtooth Mountain Guides


Bruneau Dunes State Park

Bruneau Dunes State Park is home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in the US. Climbing the 470 ft dune’s spine to its peak is no small feat, but the reward is sandboarding all the way back down. You can rent boards for $15 a day at the park visitor center.
Photo: Charles Knowles


Bathing at the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

From fly fishing to whitewater rafting through the roaring gorges that cut through the Rockies, Idaho’s famous for its cold waters. But there are also some 340 hot springs dotted across the state, and 130 hit just the right temperature for bathing—that’s a higher concentration than anywhere else in the country.


Tower Creek Pyramids

Twelve miles from the town of Salmon on the banks of Tower Creek, these geologic formations can be seen in an old homestead’s apple orchard. The pyramids’ name was coined by the Lewis and Clark expedition when they visited the location in 1805.
Photo: mypubliclands


Wildflowers in Coeur d'Alene

The county seat of Kootenai County and a popular holiday destination, CDA's a pretty lakeside city that's home to the largest population of ospreys in the western US. Bald eagles can also be seen here, but the city's perhaps most famous for the Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course—it hosts the only free-floating island green in the world.
Photo: Steven Leonti


The South Fork of the Snake River

Flowing 66 miles through the valleys, canyons, and floodplains of southeastern Idaho to its confluence with Henrys Fork, the South Fork of the Snake River supports the West's largest riparian cottonwood gallery forest. In autumn, it looks like a painting.
Photo: mypubliclands