Best Weekend Destinations


Best Weekend Getaways

Visiting the state of Idaho with a focus mainly on the state's parks, mountains, ghost towns, narrow glacial valleys, wilderness with thundering waterfalls, historic cities, steep canyons, and alpine lakes await visitors from all over the world. How powerful could a day or weekend exploring the Rocky Mountains become if it meant traversing one of the many hiking trails surrounded by aspen groves, wildlife, and opportunities to fly fish?

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Idaho is home to over 3,700 alpine lakes, a few with natural trails systems, camping accommodations, and opportunities for nearby amenities. Discover locations with hidden caves, secluded beaches, spectacular overlooks, with the option of a staycation, glamping, or the ideal remote weekend getaway. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area would easily be one of the top destinations to visit within the state.

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area makes getting away to a remote alpine lake for a day of prime fishing just the place to be. Popular species reported have been known to include the arctic grayling and trout. Whatever visitors find most appealing about taking time off to enjoy the vast array of state territory, there is undoubtedly something to do for everyone. Redfish Lake Visitor Center or the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Headquarter offers a variety of area maps, neat information about historic structures, accommodation information, and further details that may help make any trip more exciting. Many of the attractions are seasonal destinations and will require planning, especially if seeking to obtain overnight accommodations. Waterfalls destinations within this wilderness area include Lady Face Falls, Goat Falls, Smith Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

Adjacent to the Sawtooth National Wilderness sits the White Cloud Range, home to the famous Cast Peak. Castle Peak may not reach the heights of any of the state's 12ers, though the trek is said to be equally impressive and challenging to climb. Visit the 28.20-mile loop in the spring season for incredibly scenic views as visitors are likely to come across fields filled to the brim with the Wyethia helianthoides, otherwise known as the White Mules-ears, which resembles the Leucanthemum vulgare, commonly referred to as the daisy. The area is known to house meadows with the mountain shooting star, elephant heads (purple louseworts), and the beautiful western columbine flower.

Exploring the broader region, folks may choose to head out for the day to check out the historic ghost town of Bonanza, located in Custer County. There is no fee to visit the city or tour the nearby Yankee Fork Gold Dredge located a few miles up the road in the direction of Custer. Continuing up the road to the ghost town of Custer provides a stark difference between the two establishments and how a few miles makes all the difference. The ghost town of Custer, Idaho, boasts a handful of remaining structures including the post office, mercantile, and a few personal residences. As with most ghost towns within the state, the ghost town of Custer was established as a mining community, though it quickly lost its popularity when the mine failed to produce. Land of the Yankee Fork State Park, with Bayhorse Ghost Town a few miles from this destination.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area -

Known as the deepest river gorge in North America and reaching 7,993 feet, taking time to experience the scenery, nature, and outdoor activity opportunities at Hells Canyon is sure to delight. The finer aspect of this area is that, by comparison, the canyon is more profound than the more commonly known Grand Canyon of Arizona. Idaho offers gorges paramount to most, including Bruneau Canyon, Snake River Canyon, Black Magic Canyon, Owyhee Canyonlands, and Box Canyon Spring Nature Preserve. What makes Hells Canyon unique from the others are the opportunities and amenities. Discover jet boat opportunities, area trails, boating and fishing options, equestrian trails, white water rafting adventures, photography and nature treks, camping and RVing parks, and more! When packing for a trip to the recreation area, fun things to remember might include a camera, binoculars, a portable telescope, a field guide to plant and wildlife identification, car games, and select comfort items.

The Hells Canyon Creek Visitors Center makes for an excellent starting point for any adventure as it provides a wealth of information about the area, its history, and the drive to the center offers remarkable scenic views. Depending on the time of year, typically, spring will be ideal for maximum vibrant hues; travelers may notice abundant area greenery, wildlife viewing opportunities, and waterfalls lining the canyon walls. Through the early months of the year, there are around 350 species known to reside part or full time within the recreation area's habitat. Specific species that travelers may discover along their journeys may include mountain goats, turkeys, elk, sheep, deer, and chukar, to name a few. Birding is a popular activity at this location due to the incredible birds of prey that call this area home. The visitors center is typically open from spring through the latter portion of summer, though check before heading over to this destination. Admiring the tremendous amount of work that created the dam goes without saying; please observe posted signage.

The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, along U.S. 95, near Riggins, is classified as a dry-summer subtropical climate, with temperatures typically ranging from highs of around 46° to 24° in the month of March and 71° to 41° in the month of June according to the NOAA. Despite the name, the area boasts ideal temperatures for water activities and outdoor enjoyment. The temperatures will generally rise to around 81° in July and August, with lows into the mid to high 40s range. Tent camping during the summer months may be an excellent opportunity to enjoy the warmer weather and the opportunities to check out the night sky. Warmer weather and water are the ideal mix for an array of early evening flies, gnats, mosquitos, and much more. When packing for a trip to the area, folks may consider packing extra water, sunscreen, and accommodations for pest deterrents for maximum comfort.


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