The Ultimate Idaho Adventurer’s Guide Because It’s Not Just Potatoes

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Sure, you’ll find plenty of potatoes there, but in reality Idaho is an incredibly beautiful state with plenty to do for the avid adventurer.

Idaho is one of the twenty least visited places in the United States, and it’s time to change that grim reality. From top to bottom, the aptly named “Gem State” is full of unique and diverse treasures waiting to be explored by all types of adventurers. From desert oases to snow-capped mountain ranges, from lush forests to raging rivers, the remarkable landscapes provide the perfect environment for a wide range of outdoor activities.


9 Backpack through the desert of the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

As part of the Great Basin’s largest desert, the grounds of the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in south-central Idaho is truly out of this world. Formed over millions of years by lava flows, the area is an arena of jagged boulders, volcanic ash cones and desert wildflowers. There are over 1,100 square miles encompassed within the reserve, making it the perfect place for backpackers. Only a small number of hikers are granted backcountry hiking permits each year, making a trek through the reserve an admirable experience for adventurers.

Related: 20 Photos (Shared By Travelers) That Show What The Hike Really Looks Like

8 Climb the City Of Rocks National Preserve

Two miles north of the Utah border, the City of Rocks National Preserve does not disappoint. High rocky spiers reach the sky. The granite surfaces are ideal for climbers, who head to the area to climb a mix of traditional and sporty routes with different levels of difficulty. Crack climbers will be in Heaven climbing cracks in the rock with only their fingers (and harnesses) for support. Climbers looking to stay closer to the ground have a variety of bouldering issues to choose from, but make sure you don’t forget your crash pad.

7 Raft down the Selway River

The Selway River flows through the northern enclave of Idaho. The name of the river is a bit misleading. Meaning “fresh water,” rafting the Selway is not a lazy stroll on the river. Adrenaline junkies looking for an aquatic adventure can spend an entire working week covering the entire 47 mile course. Less experienced rafters can take an express tour with a guide on a smaller portion.

6 Soak in hot springs

People generally associate hot springs in the United States with places like Arkansas and Oregon, but Idaho is home to more soaking hot springs than any other state. There are over a hundred springs to soak, spread over 5 distinct regions. They all have in common the beautiful surrounding landscapes. Each of these is a wonderful place to soothe sore muscles that you are sure to get from the most physically demanding activities in Idaho.

5 Sandboard at Bruneau Dunes State Park

It might be hard to believe, but there is a lot of surf, sand, and sun in Idaho. Bruneau Dunes State Park has the tallest free-standing sand dunes in North America. Gigantic mounds dominate the surrounding desert, but the strenuous hikes are worth the gentle descents. Sandboard rentals are available for $ 15 / day at the Visitor Center, and the unique experience is definitely worth every grain of sand in your shoes.

4 Paddle at Redfish Lake

A long time ago, Redfish Lake got its name from the fact that so many sockeye salmon inhabited its waters that the entire lake was tinged with red. While the fish are not as plentiful as they were in the past, the lake is still home to abundant aquatic life that hopes not to get caught. For those who prefer to be at one with the fish, paddleboarding is a great option. The surrounding mountains create an unbeatable serenity. When your arms get tired from rowing, lie back on the paddleboard and look up to the sky to spot birds of prey hunting for their next meal.

3 Dive into Fall Creek Falls

That’s right – hot springs, dunes, and waterfalls. Most travelers opt for a view of Fall Creek Falls from above due to the difficult hike to its base. The descent is short but gentle, colored by thick meadows of poplars and an array of wild flowers. The mist from the falls on the way down is refreshing, but the short run to the main pool is even better.

2 Stargazing in the Sawtooth Mountains

With all of Idaho’s undeveloped land, almost any place is a good place to see some stars. But what could be better than a view of the Milky Way complemented by the dark silhouette of a mountain range? The Sawtooth Mountains offer otherworldly stargazing all year round, and they don’t look too bad during the day, either.

Related: Stargazing Tips That Will Change The Way You See the Sky

1 Hike to the top of Mount Borah

How many people can say they’ve been to the top of Idaho’s tallest mountain? Considered by experienced hikers to be a sort of rite of passage, climbing the summit of Mount Borah increases elevation by over 5,000 feet in less than four miles. The climb seems almost vertical at times, and in some seasons it is highly recommended that you bring trekking poles to navigate the rocky terrain. Mount Borah rises to 12,668 feet. It’s almost two and a half miles above sea level! It’s a long way to the top, but the view from the top and the laudable accomplishment is worth the impending Epsom salt baths. This trek is not for beginners, so be sure to prepare.

Next: 10 Things To Do In Idaho

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