The Ultimate Idaho Road Trip

Idaho is a stunning state with beautiful sights and remarkable destinations if you know where to go. There is much more that Idaho has to offer than just the delicious potatoes. This article will take you through the ultimate Idaho Road Trip. On this trip you will, of course, learn about the potato, check out different landscapes you won’t believe they’re all found in the same state, and discover some beautiful architecture along the way.

If you start in eastern Idaho, you can learn about the great Idaho potato. In Blackfoot, Idaho there is the Idaho Potato Museum. This is an entertaining little stop where you’ll learn about the history, the growth, nutrition of the potato, and how the potato industry has changed over the decades.

From here, if you drive an hour north-west on Highway 26, then Highway 20, you’ll be led to Arco, Idaho which is home to the entrance of the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, one of Idaho’s four national parks. The park gets its name from the unique natural landscape that makes you feel like you are visiting the moon itself. The park, over 1,100 square miles, is preserving over 53,500 acres of natural volcanic formations on the earth’s surface. These lava flows were created during several eruptive periods in the area spanning from 15,000 to 2,000 years ago. The landscapes are so unique that “weird” and “funky” are the most appropriate adjectives that come to mind. You may drive through and check it out from the comfort of your vehicle, or you can get out and enjoy the many scenic trails just waiting to be explored. Because of the isolation of the park, it is also known to be a great place to visit at night because the view of the stars is incredible.

Continuing in a south-west direction on Highway 26 you’ll head toward Twin Falls. Outside of Twin Falls, along the Snake River, is another stunning natural attraction called the Shoshone Falls. For $3 per car, you can visit the park and see the spectacular views from overlooks high above the falls. The Shoshone Falls is known as “The Niagara of the West” as is often regarded as being in the top ten waterfalls in the United States. Around the falls you can find beautiful scenic paths, grassy areas and picnic tables for a full afternoon of fun and adventure.

From these beautiful falls, take the I-84 west and head towards the Bruneau Sand Dunes, just south of Mountain Home, Idaho. At these dunes, you can get in touch with both the earth and sky. This place is home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America, rising 470 feet above the ground. This park also includes many outdoor activities that allow you to explore the sandy surroundings and get in touch with nature. Also found at this park, is an observatory where you can, again, get a spectacular view of the stars above. From this park, you can head north to Idaho’s capital city.

Boise, the capital of Idaho, is home to several great attractions that are a must-visit on an Idaho road trip like this one. Hungry? At the beginning of this trip, you learned about the great potato, and now you can feast on local Idaho potatoes at the Boise Fry Company. They are known to advertise as “fries with burgers on the side.” Here, you can choose the type of potato you want to consume. You can decide between a russet, purple, gold, sweet, laura potatoes, or a yam, depending on what’s in season. You can also choose how you want your fries cut. Your choices can include regular, shoestring, curly, homestyle, or po’ balls. They always serve your fries unsalted so you can choose from the many in-house seasonings and sauces that are offered.

If architecture is something that you’re interested in, the Boise Capitol Building is a great thing to stop and see. The sandstone work and structures are remarkable. The building sits centered in front of Capitol Boulevard, giving the impression of a downtown procession leading right to the building.

One additional location that is unique to Boise is the Albertson’s Stadium, where the football team of Boise State University plays. The stadium itself may not be a unique structure, but it’s the blue turf that’s the talk of the town. In the summer of 1986, blue turf was put down in celebration of the school colors blue and orange. The “Smurf Turf” has proved to be a great advantage to the football team, since most visiting players are accustomed to a traditional green field.

At this point, if you begin to travel north about 100 miles along Highway 95, you’ll run into the cute town of McCall, Idaho. Nestled around Payette Lake this is a popular destination for summer and winter vacationers. During the summer months, you can find the lake hosting a plethora of water-sport enthusiasts who are boating, swimming, jet-skiing, wake-boarding and participating in other water-centered activities. You can also find great scenic trails, or cute local shops to visit if the water isn’t your thing. The winter-time hosts many local traditions and festivals that are known to draw a crowd. One, in particular, is the snow sculpture competition. Dozens of larger-than-life-sized snow sculptures line the main roads of McCall, drawing up to 60,000 people every year to see these amazing creations.

At the very tippy top of the state, just a couple hours south of the Canadian border is a hidden Idaho gem known as Lake Pend Oreille. It is the largest lake in Idaho at 43 miles long, and the deepest at over 1,100 feet. The landscape that surrounds this lake is nothing short of stunning. It is surrounded by pine trees and small towns. Ranging from populations of about 180 to 8,500 each of these small towns offers access to the lake for your choice of recreation.

So, from this great road trip, you can check out some amazing landscapes that are extremely different from each other, learn a bit about Idaho’s history, and eat some tasty Boise food. Next time you’re planning a vacation, consider traveling the roads of the Gem State.


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