That’s right, there is plenty more to Idaho than just being Oregon’s potato-filled neighbor. This underrated northwestern state is known as “the gem state” for good reason. From the majestic mountains to the glittering rivers, Idaho is full of breathtaking sights to add to your bucket list. We suggest that you start with these seven natural wonders.
Thousand Springs State Park
Start your adventure in the stunning Thousand Springs State Park in the state’s southern “magic valley”. Divided into seven units, this vast park is home to a variety of amazing views. Pack a picnic to enjoy in scenic Niagara Springs or cliffside in Malad Gorge overlooking the winding snake river. Bring your binoculars on a hike through Box Canyon Nature Preserve to admire the soaring bald eagles, and bask in the beauty of the waterfall. Make the most of the peace and quiet by camping out under the stars or spending the night in one of the cozy backcountry yurts.
The River of No Return
Ominously nicknamed the “River of No Return” because its quick pace and impressive rapids prevented pioneers from paddling upriver – the Salmon River is a great place for adventure. Set out from Stanley on a white water rafting trip for the whole family and keep your eyes open to spy deer, elks, ducks, and fish along the way! Spend a night at the hidden gem near Salmon – the Salmon River Lodge Resort – to enjoy backcountry hiking, horseback riding, rafting, fishing, and more!
Black Magic Canyon
No, this sinister-sounding canyon won’t curse you but the beautiful view might leave you spellbound. Just north of Shoshone, this unusual canyon has been eroded over centuries by irrigation leaving a unique trail for adventurous hikers. Head out after September and before March to avoid rattlesnakes and be sure to wear sturdy shoes – this trail calls for scrambling, squeezing, and bouldering. Before you go, always call Big Wood Canal Company who is responsible for the irrigation flooding to make sure that the coast is clear for the day, flash floods in this area can be fatal!
Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns
In Idaho’s Lemhi Valley, you will find the remains of the historical Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns. These picturesque monuments were sculpted from local clay to provide charcoal which was shipped across the valley by horse and wagon for the early settlers. These beehive-shaped ovens are a perfect subject for photography, art, or simply the backdrop for a romantic afternoon picnic.
Blue Heart Springs
If you are looking for a peaceful, scenic place to paddle try Blue Heart Springs in Hagerman Valley. Rent a kayak or paddleboard in nearby Banbury and head north, up the river. Through a few twists and turns, you will find yourself floating above the clear turquoise waters of the Blue Heart Springs. Paddle, float, and swim along in the fresh spring water and bask in the Idaho sunshine.
Goldbug Hot Springs
The Goldbug Hot Springs are notorious amongst locals for their unique multi-tiered hot spring pools overlooking the valley of the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Find your way there from Salmon, and be prepared for a stunning 4 mile (round-trip) hike to bring you to the natural pools. If you are as smitten with the view as we are, you may want to stay the night. Camping is free here in the designated campsites 500meters from the waterfalls and hot spring.
Craters of The Moon National Monument
Created by volcanic activity, the Craters of the Moon National Monument’s ethereal landscape will leave you awestruck. This strange and unfamiliar landscape will give you the feeling of walking along with an alien planet. Peer into the vents of miniature volcanoes at the Spatter Cones, climb the steep hillside of the Cinder Cone, and stroll through the “Devil’s orchard”. You can even explore the caverns created by lava tunnels, burrowing through the countryside.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories