If you have ever wanted to check out the beautiful countryside of one of the nation’s most amazing states, then this list is for you. Today we have 16 places and things here in Idaho that you must check out over your next few trips to Idaho. You see, Idaho is not all agriculture and football. Idaho is home to many outdoor recreation areas, vacation destinations, and much more. So, be sure to book your next vacation to Idaho so you can experience all 16 of these must-see places.
#1 - The Palisades
Let’s start this list off with one of our personal favorites: the Palisades. The Palisades Dam and Reservoir are located in eastern Idaho where they provide irrigation, power, and fun to the local area. The Palisades Reservoir is a gorgeous sheet of blue water that stretches as far as the eye can see providing you with hours of fun fishing, boating, swimming, wading, or just enjoying a picnic.
#2 - Redfish Lake
Redfish Lake is located in central Idaho in the midst of the Sawtooth Mountain range. It is a natural lake, unlike the Palisades that is a reservoir, and it is beautiful beyond belief. It draws many people to it every year from both inside and outside of Idaho. It is nearly 5 miles long and almost 4 hundred feet deep. It has campgrounds, boat ramps, and marinas all along the shore making it the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of regular life.
#3 - Bruneau Sand Dunes
There are few places as fun and mesmerizing as Bruneau Sand Dunes. These sandy hills are located south of Mountain Home in southern Idaho and are a fun place to camp and have a good time. The largest of the dunes is over 400 feet tall which makes it the tallest dune in North America. You can not only hike up them, sled down them, and camp near them, but you can also they also serve as a great photography opportunity.
#4 - Lake Pend Oreille
This lake is one of Idaho’s most beautiful water features. It is located in Northern Idaho next to the gorgeous city of Sandpoint. It is a large and deep lake that has been around for a long, long time. There is even a local legend that there is a monster, like the Loch Ness Monster, living in the depths of the lake. We don’t know if this is true, however, we do know that the lake is one of the most exciting in Idaho when it comes to boating and other aquatic adventures.
#5 - Lake Alturas
When you see a beautiful picture of Idaho, there is a high likelihood that you can find a similar scene around Alturas Lake. Alturas is the quintessential Idaho lake. It has wildlife, it has beautiful scenery, gorgeous blue waters, and so much more. The camping is great there as well, so you should definitely take some time to venture up that way this year!
#6 - The Winter Carnival of McCall
McCall’s Winter Carnival is definitely one of the must-see sights of Idaho. It is a fun and energetic festival that spans the end of January through the beginning of February offering its visitors parades, fireworks, food, and all sorts of fun activities. It combines the beauty and fun of a normal street fair, but in McCall, it is done on the frosty shore of the frozen Payette Lake. However, the main reason to go to the Winter Carnival is to see the detailed ice sculptures. These eccentric pieces of art are scattered up and down Main Street in McCall and they bring thousands of people to the city every year.
#7 - The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness
At first the name sounds a bit over the top, but after you remember how large and rugged the terrain of the Frank Church wilderness, it becomes clear why never returning might be an issue for visitors. The wilderness is one of Idaho’s largest and most isolated mountain terrains with miles upon miles of trails and rivers to explore and enjoy. It is a great place for camping, hunting, fishing, and so much more. However, it is also home to many large and dangerous animals as well, so it is best to go with someone who knows the way and has had experience in these areas.
#8 - Shoshone Falls
This piece of Idaho landscape is one for the record books. It is a breathtaking waterfall located in Twin Falls down in southern Idaho and is said to be taller than Niagara Falls. A beautiful break from its desert surroundings, Shoshone Falls is the perfect place for a picnic, a hike, or any other sort of activity. You can even enjoy the water down below the falls with boats and possible swimming (depend on local rules). To get to the falls, it costs $3 a car.
#9 - Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Millions of years ago, there was tons of volcanic activity all along southern Idaho. That volcanic activity is now beneath Yellowstone National Park, but as it made its way through Idaho there was one spot on the eastern half of the state where a large amount of magma broke through the surface. This place is the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is thousands of acres in size and covered in black rock. It is such a stark landmark that it is even visible from space. There are miles upon miles of trails that take you around and through giant fields of lava rock as well as an educational center where you can learn all about the geological wonder it is.
#10 - Bear Lake
Bear Lake is a pretty popular place to go if you like to be on the water. People from both Utah and Idaho gather there to enjoy boating, swimming, camping, and so much more. It is also great for fishing, photography, and so on and so forth. You can find more information about Bear Lake on the Idaho State Park website.
#11 - Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest
As with all of Idaho’s other forests, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is a wonderful place to go if you want to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and experience the adventure of the Idaho backcountry. There are hundreds of campgrounds, fishing spots, picturesque views, and so much more. There will be some restrictions that apply here that don’t apply to other forests since it is both a national forest and part of a Native American reservation.
#12 - Hells Canyon
If you like the Grand Canyon, then you will like Hells Canyon. It is a beautiful part of Idaho’s landscape that showcases the power of a little water and a whole lot of patience. It is the deepest river canyon in the whole United States offering breathtaking views. It is located 4 hours north of Boise on the Idaho-Oregon border.
#13 - Lake Coeur d’Alene
This lake is one of the most popular lakes in all of Idaho. Coeur d’Alene Lake is one that is not only beautiful and fun but is also the sight of Iron Man Triathlons. The lake is right next to the city of Coeur d’Alene Idaho which is a scenic destination that many go to for vacations.
#14 - Idaho’s Hot Springs
Whether you are at Gold Fork in McCall or Givens southwest of Boise, there are a lot of ways to have fun in Idaho’s hot springs. Idaho’s large number of hot springs is due to the volcanic activity we were talking about earlier. Though the large pockets of magma may have moved on to Yellowstone, there is still enough residual energy to fuel Idaho’s many hot springs.
#15 - Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark
Well, if you didn’t think there was any way you could make a waterpark more fun, then you haven’t seen Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark. This waterpark resort is a fun place to visit, offering slides, indoor surfing, and so much more. It should definitely be on everyone’s list of places to visit. Currently, it is only $32 a person making it a very affordable option for a winter getaway if you are tired of the cold and the snow.
#16 - Sun Valley
Whether you like to ski, camp, hike, or just enjoy a scenic town with great food, then you are going to love Sun Valley. Located in central Idaho Sun Valley is a gorgeous place with many fun outdoor activities to enjoy. It is such a special place that there are even many celebrities that have bought second homes up there so they can enjoy some time away in the beautiful mountains.
Now, there is a lot more to see and experience in Idaho than just these 16 things we have listed here. There are sights, parks, museums, and so much more waiting for you here in the Great Potato State. Now, we are sure you are looking at flights to Idaho right now, but before you start your journey over be sure to call us at the Hughes Group. We would love to help you out in any way we can. We’ll answer any of your Idaho questions and help you find out how you can make this awesome place your new home!