The State of Idaho might be a little far from the big-hitting, popular, states of California or New York but that doesn’t mean it’s not incredible! You see, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Idaho dotted all across the state. Which, if I’m honest, is really easy to visit on a wider road trip to places like Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons.
Trust me, Idaho has a lot more going on than just potatoes! After visiting Idaho, I wanted to share some of my favourite stops to see whilst you’re visiting. Now, some are a little off-the-beaten-track whilst others are really easy to find; whatever the case, there’s a good few gems that I’m hoping you’ll take a gander at when exploring Idaho.
Take a peek, below, at some of the best things to do in Idaho when you visit. Have the best trip.
1. Yellowstone National Park
Okay, the vast majority of the incredible Yellowstone National Park is in neighbouring Wyoming. That being said, there are still a few epic spots to visit when exploring the east of Idaho and well worth visiting in the state.
You see, just on the border with Idaho is the Bechler Ranger Station area that’s almost a forgotten entry to Yellowstone. It’s significantly quieter than the popular routes and gives some pretty easy access to the backcountry trails that crisscross the area. Now, one thing to note is that the road here does end up not being tarmacked but it’s totally accessible in good weather as they maintain the gravel route.
After arriving, pop on the Cave Falls trail that’s totally gorgeous. As always, stick to the routes, always hike responsibly and watch out for bears in the area.
Oh yeah, and let’s not create any boundaries on visiting Yellowstone, weave in and out of both Wyoming, Montana and Idaho when exploring the national park! It’s incredible.
2.) Craters of the Moon
Visiting the Craters of the Moon National Monument is one of the best things to do in Idaho if you want to explore the epic diversity of the state. You see, the Craters of the Moon is like a massive ocean of ancient lava flows and huge cinder cones that look like you’re on another planet. Well, hence the name I suppose!
Once here, pop on The Loop Drive which gets you into the beating heart of this national monument. Oh, and if you fancy stretching your legs, head out on the North Crater Flow Loop Trail. Just be sure to stick to the trails, there’s a fragile ecosystem in this area and you really don’t want to leave a trace.
It’s easy to visit for a day trip from Twin Falls (100-minutes away by car), too.
3.) Shoshone Falls
Nestled on the Snake River, right down in Southern Idaho, Shoshone Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Idaho to visit. It’s totally stunning and it’s so incredible to see the power behind these falls.
After viewing the Falls, taking a walk on the Snake River Canyon and learn about the history of the site. You see, the site also played a valuable role in Native American and First Nation trade routes, too.
Visiting the falls is one of the best things to do in Idaho if you want to see a totally different side to the state. It’s almost as if nature has made a Niagara Falls, here.
4.) Hells Canyon
Don’t be put off by the name, Hells Canyon is a whopping 16-km canyon is the country’s deepest river gorge carved out by the Snake River. It’s the kind of place you visit to brush up on your outdoor skills, too. You see, you can try your hand at white water rafting, fishing and hiking, too.
Honestly, if you love the outdoors you’ll easily find a visit to Hells Canyon is one of the best things to do in Idaho.
5.) Minidoka National Historic Site
Located in the Magic Valley of southern Idaho, Minidoka acts as a reminder of the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese immigrants during World War II.
Visit the Minidoka Internment Monument to reflect on the history it represents, explore the nearby town of Jerome or go for a hike on the nearby trails. It’s a great little stop (for 45-minutes) as part of a wider road trip around Idaho.
6.) Old Idaho State Penitentiary
Don’t worry, you won’t be locked up at this former State Penitentiary in the city of Boise.
Instead, you can take a historical tour of the building to explore Idaho prison life and the history of incarceration in Idaho. The prison functioned for over 100 years and finally was shut down due to a fire caused by riots. Yikes!
It might seem a little macabre, but it’s no different than visiting spots like Alcatraz or Clink Alley in London, I suppose.
7.) Idaho State Museum
Located in Boise, the Idaho State Museum offers a variety of artefacts, history and exhibits to help you learn everything Idaho. Their collections are gorgeous.
Here, you can learn everything about Idaho and the development of the state, the penitentiary and Native American history, too.
Plus, it’s one of the best things to do in Idaho when the weather takes a turn for the worst as it’s mainly inside.
8.) Hagerman Fossil Beds
On the main driving route between Boise and Twin Falls, Hagerman Fossil Beds is one of the best places in Idaho to explore if you want to take a peek at the Pliocene fossils.
Perched in Hagerman in Southern Idaho, it’s an area where horses are said to have evolved. You can even check out the fossils of a prehistoric horse.
Though, don’t stress if horses not your thing! They’ve also discovered; mastodons, camels, prehistoric dogs and sabre tooth cats, too. You’ll have to head to the Visitor Centre to find most of these but it’s another lovely little stop on your route around Idaho.
Afterwards, pop over to the Thousand Springs state park which is a really quick detour from the I-84 and a must-see! The gorge is totally beautiful.
9.) Sawtooth Mountains and lakes
Part of the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, the Sawtooth Mountains are totally huge and so dramatic to see on your trip through Idaho. Now, it’s really easy to spot the Sawtooth Mountains and visit some of the trails around this vast area when heading to Alice Lake, too.
From here, you can head out kayaking, spot El Capitan peak and follow parts of Trail 095 if you’re looking for some lovely views.
Also, depending on how much time you’re spending in the area, you can head spend some other days over on the Redfish Lake to Saddleback Lake trail that’s around 15-20km long.
It’s not the easiest hike (it gets harder the further along you go) and you will need to be experienced to head on this, but the views are worth it.
Plus, you’ll get to see The Elephant’s Perch, too.
Just be sure to plan your trip before you head out, after all, you’re heading quite far away from the nearest big towns.
10.) City of Rocks
Visiting the national reserve might just be one of the best things to do in Idaho if you want to see the diverse landscape that this state has.
Trust me, Idaho’s landscapes have a bit of everything; it’s so unique.
Once here, be sure to the hundreds of arches, panholes and huge joints that jut up from the earth. For a longer ramble, pop on the North Fork Circle Creek.
Though, if you’re short on time, pop on the Flaming Rock Trai that’s short but a pretty intense workout.
Around 80-km from the fringes of Yellowstone, Rexburg is a relatively small city to visit on your trip around Idaho.
Now, you’re not going to need longer than a few hours, here but it’s a great place to stop off, stretch your legs and grab a bite before heading towards Yellowstone.
After arriving, be sure to see the Rexburg Temple, pop into the Legacy Flight Museum or head on the Cress Creek Nature Trail. For a huge lunch, pop into Big Jud’s who serve up a ‘Big Jud Special’! This is a whopping, 1lb double burger filled with cheese and pickles. It’s massive.