The great state of Idaho is famous for its plethora of fun outdoor activities and its mountainous landscapes. Every season brings something new and beautiful to the table to enjoy! Whether it’s snowboarding your way down a steep slope or taking a dip in one of the state’s many lakes to cool off in the summer, the landscape gives you so many activities to choose from. But what is the weather in Idaho really like?
In order to fully prepare for and plan your trip or move to Idaho, you’ll need to gain an understanding of the weather patterns and seasons. We’ve got the inside scoop on how Idaho’s seasons change if there are any sudden weather occurrences, and how to prepare for the changes in temperature you may experience.
Idaho’s climate varies by region and is affected by the Pacific Ocean. The northern part of the state is colder throughout the year, while the southern part has hotter summer months. Idaho’s capital city of Boise may not get very much precipitation throughout the year, while eastern Idaho may get snow and cold weather towards the end of the year. Spring and fall are notoriously cool months where it’s not too hot and not too cold. The seasons change quarterly, and the year’s weather is usually very well-rounded.
Wildflowers grow throughout the state in the spring and summer, peppering the landscape with color. In the fall, the leaves change color quite beautifully, turning the foliage vibrant shades of orange and red. These are the ideal months for going on a nice stroll through the forest or taking a day trip. Regions located in higher elevations will always be windier in the spring and fall than the lower areas of elevation.
The summer months can reach hot temperatures of up to 100 degrees on some days, but that usually doesn’t last very long. Much of Idaho is comprised of fields and desert areas with little shade aside from the forests. Prepare for any lack of shade in the summer with ample sun protection and good hydration. Expect the heat to be very dry as opposed to most of the eastern U.S., which tends to have more humid summers. This makes the summers in Idaho more bearable and less sweaty!
Winter vary depending on where in Idaho you are moving to. In some areas, temperatures will drop into the negatives in the dead of winter. There is usually a good amount of snowfall in the southeastern part of Idaho, whereas, in the north, snow is heavy and sticks around for a while. If you find yourself in a city or town with a lake nearby, the weather there will be even more unpredictable due to the lake’s own ecosystem.
The Gem State offers many winter sports and activities for outdoor enthusiasts to take part in. During this time of year, some Idahoans like to rent out cabins for the weekends to sit by a warm fire, drink hot cocoa, and surf the powdery slopes during the day.
Unpredictable Weather Phenomena
Again, depending on which area of Idaho you are in, you will experience something different. Because the north is so...well, north, you can always expect snow during winter. Central and western Idaho are generally more temperate throughout the year with evenly distributed seasonal shifts. When talking about eastern Idaho’s weather, we come to a different story entirely.
Eastern Idaho has seen it all. Occasionally in June or July, there will be brief, random bouts of hail that will seem very peculiar for that time of year. In early 2017, Idaho witnessed a record-breaking year for snowfall. Snow plows shoved all the snow into compacted walls on the sides of the road that were sometimes over five feet tall. Eastern Idaho underwent a sudden torrential downpour in the middle of the summer of 2014 that flooded the streets and buildings enough that people were literally canoeing home.
So why would you even want to live in eastern Idaho if the weather is so unpredictable? It’s an area just as scenic and worthwhile as the rest of Idaho! If you drive only an hour or so west from most places in eastern Idaho, you’ll make it to America’s first national park, the infamous Yellowstone. Grand Teton National Park isn’t too far from there either. With so much to do and so much to take in, there isn’t a piece of Idaho that shouldn’t be explored.
In the summers, be prepared to experience a few smoky days. Wildfires happen basically every summer in some forested area somewhere in Idaho. They aren’t usually a huge problem and are subdued within a few days. The smoke gets trapped in the valleys in central and east Idaho and can cloud your view of the sky for a couple days.
What Do You Think?
Idaho is a complete heaven for outdoor enthusiasts all over the country. People flock there to take part in the abundant fish and game scene, to take advantage of the permanently snowy peaks and mountains, and to camp under the clear, starry skies that are largely unaffected by light pollution. For the locals, the sheer beauty and well-preserved landscapes give them a sweet spot for their home state. Proud of their gorgeous state, residents sometimes affectionately refer to Idaho as their “Idahome”.
When you visit or move to Idaho, make sure you pick the right season according to the type of experience you’d like to have. The weather there may be wild and unpredictable at times, but it never lasts. Pleasant, enjoyable weather is always on the horizon. Having seasons that rotate so evenly is a huge determining factor for many people that decide to call Idaho their permanent home. The changing of the seasons consistently ushers in new activities to try and always proves to be an exciting time to explore Idaho.