Idaho is a beautiful state and has so many places to visit in Idaho, composed of endless mountains, rivers, and giant green hillsides! If taking a step back from big city life to enjoy all that nature has to offer sounds appealing, then you should give the “Gem State” a shot.
Idaho is your ticket to outdoor fun and thrills. This stunning state’s collection of rivers and jagged peaks means residents have more than enough options to stay active – from skiing and snowboarding at Sun Valley, an official training site for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Nordic ski teams, to whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Salmon River to hiking through one of its 25 state parks. Below we’ll cover a number of the best places to visit in Idaho.
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1. Yellowstone National Park
America’s most-loved park, Yellowstone, is not only America’s first national park but the first national park in the world. It’s a wonderful place to visit, with spectacular scenery and plenty of geothermal activity (don’t miss seeing Old Faithful erupt).
Located in southwest Idaho, Boise is not only the state’s largest city but also its capital. Part of Idaho’s Treasure Valley, Boise (pronounced “BOY-see”) was a stop along the Oregon Trail. The city’s 8th Street through downtown is now a pedestrian zone.
3. Sun Valley
Sun Valley is Idaho’s premier ski and summer vacation resort, with many celebrities owning homes in the area. Located in central Idaho, Sun Valley is nestled among mountains that provide great skiing, ice skating, and snowboarding in the winter, and golf, horseback riding, hiking, and fly fishing in the summer. It is a year-round family tourist destination.
4. Craters of the Moon National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument is an eerie place in southern Idaho. The lava formations make it appear desolate; it is one of the best-preserved basalt flood areas in the Lower 48 states. Thought to resemble the Moon’s surface, NASA astronauts trained at the lava field as they prepared for their moon landing.
5. Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho. The waterfalls on the Snake River drop 212 feet (65 meters), Niagara only falls 167 feet (51 meters). Still, Shoshone Falls are sometimes called the “Niagara of the West.” The falls were an important fishing and trading spot for Native Americans, including the Shoshone for which they’re named.
6. Coeur d’Alene
Just 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington, Coeur d’Alene rules the Idaho Panhandle. The largest city in northern Idaho, the city sits on the shores of the scenic Lake Coeur d’Alene. If you’re a golfer, you might want to play a few rounds at the Coeur d’Alene Resort course that’s famous for its 14th Hole, a green that sits in the lake, floating along on an underwater cable.
7. Idaho Falls
The falls at Idaho Falls may not be very deep, but they’re plenty wide. The falls in downtown Idaho Falls only drop 22 feet (7 meters), but they stretch 600 feet (180 meters) across the Snake River. They’re best viewed from the Snake River Greenbelt, a six-mile round trip over a paved path.
8. Hells Canyon Recreational Area
Many travelers look at Hells Canyon National Recreation Area that divides Idaho and Oregon as a scenic and recreation area. That it is, no doubt about it: At nearly 8,000 feet deep, Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America and can be explored on countless hiking trails.
9. Lava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs is a popular vacation resort in Southern Idaho situated near Pocatello on the old Oregon Trail route. The town isn’t very big – a tad over 500 souls – making it a good place to chill out away from the crowds. “Chill out,” however, may be a misnomer as you’ll find five hot springs pools here.
Sandpoint may have less than 8,000 residents, but it’s a major economic hub in northern Idaho. Two national businesses, women’s wear retailer Coldwater Creek and salad dressing manufacturer Lighthouse Foods have their national headquarters here.
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