Planning a trip to Idaho this year? Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Idaho. These stunning sights and destinations are sure to take your breath away.
Nestled in the mountainous landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, Idaho is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. From vast lakes and tumbling waterfalls to sprawling sand dunes and mesmerizing hot springs, Idaho promises to satiate your wanderlust. It truly earns its place among the most beautiful places in the country.
With natural wonders scattered across the state, there are many best places to visit in Idaho, each offering its unique charms. Discover quaint towns like Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint nestled along the edge of sparkling lakes. And step into the wild at places like Craters of the Moon National Monument and Hell’s Canyon which highlight Idaho’s remarkable geological features.
These most scenic places in Idaho extend an invitation to adventurers and tranquility-seekers alike. Go white water rafting in the Salmon River, and take a quiet stroll through Idaho Botanical Garden. Revel in the grandeur of Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Each corner unfolds a story, making Idaho one of the most beautiful states to visit.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a history buff, a foodie, or a culture vulture. Idaho will surprise and delight you at every turn. So, pack your bags, fuel up your car, and get ready to unravel the best places in Idaho. As we embark on a journey through this captivating state.
There’s more to this state than just potatoes. Here’s your guide to the most beautiful places in Idaho to add to your bucket list.
The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Idaho
Prepared to delve into all the most attractive locations in Idaho? As mentioned, there’s something for everyone in this slice of the Northwest. Keep reading to uncover the magnificent scenery of Idaho.
Are you seeking picturesque city and cultural attractions? Or perhaps you’re after a peaceful retreat in the heart of nature? Regardless of your plans, Idaho is ready to cater to your desires. Here are all the must-visit spots in ID that you should consider:
1. Shoshone Falls
When you’re discussing the most beautiful places in Idaho, you simply can’t overlook the breathtaking spectacle of Shoshone Falls. Often touted as the ‘Niagara of the West,’ this waterfall on the Snake River is a sight to behold, particularly in the spring when the water is at its highest.
Dropping a staggering 212 feet, Shoshone Falls is, in fact, higher than Niagara Falls. It’s an awe-inspiring sight as millions of gallons of water cascade down the rugged cliff faces. Creating a misty spectacle that’s a feast for the eyes.
There’s more to this must-see in Idaho than just the falls, though. The surrounding park area offers a picnic area, a swimming area, hiking trails, and viewpoints. It is a fantastic place for a day trip. You can enjoy a picnic while gazing at the waterfall, and hike through the trails to enjoy the beauty. Simply sit and admire the power and beauty of the falls.
Shoshone Falls is not just a testament to the powerful natural forces that have shaped the landscape of Idaho. It’s also a perfect spot to start your journey through the state. With every spray of the mist, you’ll feel a deeper connection with the wild, untouched beauty of Idaho, reminding you of why you decided to visit this incredible state in the first place.
2. Coeur d’Alene
Coeur d’Alene is a sparkling jewel in Idaho’s crown, one of the most beautiful cities in Idaho.
A top destination for both residents and visitors alike. Named after a tribe of Native Americans who lived along the rivers and lakes of the region. This city offers a rich blend of cultural history and outdoor activities.
The focal point of the city is the beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene, a water haven that offers a wide variety of recreational activities. Here, you can engage in everything from paddleboarding, kayaking, to sailing. If you’re a fan of fishing, you’ll find the lake stocked with several species of trout and bass.
Beyond the lake, you can explore the city’s vibrant downtown area, complete with delightful eateries, charming boutiques, and a thriving arts scene. The Art Spirit Gallery is a must-visit for art enthusiasts, featuring rotating exhibits of contemporary art.
Don’t forget to take a stroll in the world’s longest floating boardwalk at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. With stunning views of the lake and mountains, it’s no wonder that Coeur d’Alene has made our list of pretty places in Idaho. From its stunning natural landscapes to its bustling downtown scene, Coeur d’Alene truly embodies the spirit of Idaho.
3. Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Spread across a whopping 756,000 acres, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is indeed a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Undeniably one of the most beautiful places in Idaho. This area is home to the iconic Sawtooth Mountains, over 300 high-alpine lakes, and a diverse range of wildlife.
The rugged peaks of the Sawtooth Range offer a dramatic backdrop to a landscape dotted with clear, cold rivers, and wildflower-filled meadows. It’s a picture-perfect scene that nature lovers will fall head over heels for.
Whether you enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area offers a host of activities to indulge in. For hikers, the 115 miles long Sawtooth Trail provides an unforgettable trek through the wilderness. Offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
Don’t miss the opportunity to stargaze here either. On clear nights, the lack of light pollution opens up an incredible view of the cosmos that will leave you breathless.
Exploring the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is an unforgettable adventure. A unique place to visit in Idaho where you can immerse yourself in nature and experience Idaho’s wilderness at its best.
4. Sun Valley
As one of the best places in Idaho for winter sports, Sun Valley has earned a reputation as a premier ski destination. But the charm of this resort city goes beyond its snow-covered slopes, making it a must-visit destination year-round.
During winter, skiing enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Sun Valley to enjoy its world-class slopes. The two major ski areas, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain, cater to different skill levels, ensuring everyone from beginners to experienced skiers can enjoy the thrill of the sport.
But don’t pack away your suitcase when the snow melts. The warmer months transform Sun Valley into a green paradise ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Explore the well-marked trails, including the stunning White Clouds Trail. Try your hand at fly-fishing in the sparkling waters of the Big Wood River.
Downtown Sun Valley is no less appealing. With its upscale boutiques, fine dining restaurants, and cultural sites like the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. It’s a buzzing hub of activity.
Whether you’re seeking thrilling outdoor adventures or relaxing in a sophisticated mountain resort, Sun Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Idaho.
5. Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area
As the deepest river gorge in North America, Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area is a testament to Idaho’s extraordinary geological features.
It is one of the most scenic places in Idaho. At its deepest point, Hell’s Canyon plummets an astounding 7,993 feet, making it even deeper than the Grand Canyon.
The Snake River winds its way through the canyon, providing an array of recreational opportunities. Whitewater rafting is a popular activity, with the river offering both tame and challenging rapids, perfect for beginners and seasoned rafters. Anglers, too, will enjoy world-class fishing for Steelhead trout and Pacific salmon.
For land lovers, the recreation area is home to more than 900 miles of hiking trails, each providing unique viewpoints of the dramatic canyon and the surrounding landscapes. The Heavens Gate Overlook offers a spectacular panoramic view of the canyon that will take your breath away.
Wildlife is abundant in Hell’s Canyon. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of Rocky Mountain elk, big horn sheep, and even the occasional black bear.
Visiting Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area is more than just a journey. It’s also an experience that encapsulates the wild and rugged beauty of Idaho.
6. Boise River Greenbelt
No list of the most beautiful places in Idaho would be complete without mentioning the Boise River Greenbelt. Stretching for 25 miles along the banks of the Boise River, this greenway provides a serene escape in the heart of the state’s capital city.
Whether you’re jogging, cycling, or just going for a stroll, the Greenbelt offers a peaceful respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. Along the way, you’ll pass through picturesque parks, vibrant downtown areas, and some of the city’s top cultural attractions. This includes the fascinating Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, the tranquil Kathryn Albertson Park, and the wildlife-rich Morrison Knudsen Nature Center.
Keep an eye out for the variety of birds that make their home along the river, including geese, ducks, and even herons. If you’re lucky, you might spot a deer or a fox in the more secluded areas.
The Boise River Greenbelt is a shining example of urban planning harmonizing with nature. A visit here is a must when you’re visiting Idaho. It truly offers a charming blend of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and cultural attractions.
7. City of Rocks National Reserve
Known affectionately as the ‘Silent City of Rocks,’ the City of Rocks National Reserve is a rock climber’s paradise and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Idaho.
The reserve is home to an impressive collection of granite formations that rise dramatically from the earth, creating a city-like landscape of towering rocks.
With more than 600 routes, rock climbers of all levels will find a challenge that suits their abilities. Whether you’re a beginner learning the ropes or a seasoned pro looking for your next test, the City of Rocks has a climb for you. But you don’t have to be a climber to enjoy the area. The reserve also offers excellent hiking, bird-watching, and even stargazing opportunities.
In addition to its natural beauty, the City of Rocks National Reserve is rich in history. The California Trail, once a major overland route for emigrants traveling to California in the mid-1800s, runs through the park, and you can still see the old wagon ruts and inscriptions left by pioneers.
From the rugged beauty of its rock formations to its unique history, a visit to the City of Rocks is like stepping into another world, making it one of the most unique places to visit in Idaho.
8. Bruneau Dunes State Park
Imagine an oasis in the middle of the desert where towering dunes meet sparkling lakes and star-filled skies. Welcome to Bruneau Dunes State Park, one of the most beautiful places in Idaho and a marvel of the natural world.
Home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America. Which reaches an impressive 470 feet, the park provides a desert playground for adventurers. Here, you can rent a sandboard and surf down the dunes. Hike to the top for breathtaking views, or explore the surrounding trails teeming with wildlife.
Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit! The park’s lakes offer the perfect place to cool off, with opportunities for swimming, fishing, and bird-watching.
But the wonders of Bruneau Dunes extend beyond daylight hours. At night, the park transforms into an astronomer’s paradise. The on-site observatory offers high-powered telescopes and frequent stargazing events. It is a beautiful place in Idaho to witness the grandeur of the cosmos.
From its sand dunes to its star-filled skies, Bruneau Dunes State Park offers a unique and unforgettable Idaho experience.
9. Redfish Lake
Located in the heart of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Redfish Lake is a glimmering gem amidst the rugged mountains. It is one of the most scenic places in Idaho.
Named after the brilliant sockeye salmon that used to return to the lake in large numbers. Redfish Lake is a tranquil haven of natural beauty.
The lake offers a variety of water-based activities, including fishing, boating, and swimming. With a surface area of over 1,500 acres, there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the crystal-clear waters. For the more adventurous, renting a kayak or stand-up paddleboard provides a unique way to explore the lake and its stunning surroundings.
Surrounded by the Sawtooth Mountains, the area around Redfish Lake is a hiker’s paradise. Numerous trails lead from the lake into the wilderness, including the challenging but rewarding trail to the summit of Mount Heyburn.
When the day winds down, there’s no better place to watch the sunset than from the shores of Redfish Lake. The sight of the sun setting behind the mountains, its light reflecting off the mirror-like surface of the lake. It is a scene you won’t soon forget.
Whether it’s for a weekend of camping or a day trip, Redfish Lake is one of the prettiest places in Idaho. It offers an idyllic retreat in the midst of Idaho’s spectacular wilderness.
10. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Idaho’s landscape takes a turn for the otherworldly at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Known as the ‘Moon on Earth,’ this surreal landscape of lava fields, volcanic cones, and tunnels is one of the most unique places to visit in Idaho. A testament to the region’s volcanic past, the park features a stark, yet beautiful, landscape molded by ancient eruptions.
You’ll find rugged lava fields, spatter cones, and the stunning Big Craters and Inferno Cone, which offer panoramic views of the park. Don’t miss exploring the lava tubes like Indian Tunnel and Beauty Cave — a flashlight and sturdy shoes are a must!
Although it may seem inhospitable, the park is teeming with life. Hardy plants and animals have adapted to thrive in this harsh environment, and spring brings a burst of color as wildflowers bloom across the lava fields.
After a day of exploration, stick around for the night. Designated as an International Dark Sky Park, Craters of the Moon offers superb stargazing opportunities, rounding out your lunar-like adventure.
From the intriguing landscapes to the resilient wildlife, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve truly is a must-see when visiting Idaho.
11. Boise – The capital of Idaho
Nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lies Boise is undoubtedly one of the state’s most beautiful cities in Idaho. Often dubbed the “City of Trees,” Boise stands as a harmonious blend of urban sophistication and outdoor splendor. It’s the capital, but you wouldn’t know it with all its greenery!
Upon first glance, the city’s skyline is framed by the rolling Boise Mountains, setting a picturesque backdrop that hints at the natural wonders nearby. The Boise River, a shimmering ribbon of blue, winds its way through the heart of the city, offering a haven for kayakers, fishermen, and those looking to enjoy a peaceful riverside stroll.
But Boise’s beauty isn’t just skin-deep. Venture beyond its surface, and you’ll discover a vibrant downtown brimming with historic architecture, innovative eateries, and chic boutiques. The streets come alive with festivals, farmer’s markets, and art events that highlight the city’s rich culture and community spirit.
One cannot mention Boise without praising its vast green spaces. The city’s beloved Boise Greenbelt is a testament to this, with its 25-mile tree-lined pathway that offers idyllic views and access to several parks. A stone’s throw away, the Boise National Forest beckons with its rugged landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, and trails that cater to adventurers of all kinds.
Equally alluring is Boise’s commitment to arts and history. With institutions like the Boise Art Museum and the Idaho State Historical Museum, visitors can delve deep into the region’s heritage and evolving artistic landscape.
For travelers seeking a destination that marries nature’s tranquility with urban allure, Boise shines as Idaho’s radiant gem. It’s a city where every visit feels like rediscovering beauty anew.
12. Lake Coeur d’Alene
Finishing off our list is the dazzling Lake Coeur d’Alene, one of the most beautiful places in Idaho. Nestled in the Idaho Panhandle, this lake is famed for its pristine waters, lush scenery, and an array of outdoor activities that make it a perfect year-round destination.
During the summer, the lake is a haven for water enthusiasts. Enjoy swimming in the cool, clear waters, rent a boat for a day on the lake, or try your hand at waterskiing or paddleboarding. The surrounding forests and hills also provide excellent hiking, cycling, and wildlife spotting opportunities.
The fun doesn’t stop when winter comes. The lake region transforms into a winter wonderland with activities like snowboarding, skiing, and even eagle watching. From December to February, hundreds of bald eagles migrate to the lake, offering a unique wildlife spectacle.
Not to be missed is the Coeur d’Alene Resort’s Holiday Light Show, recognized as one of the best in the country, turning the lake into a twinkling fairy-tale scene during the holiday season.
With its outstanding natural beauty and plentiful activities, Lake Coeur d’Alene undoubtedly ranks among the best places in Michigan and is a fitting finale to your Idaho adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Visiting the Beautiful Places in Idaho
Interested in deepening your knowledge about the most beautiful places in Idaho? Here are some recurring questions I frequently encounter about the best attractions and activities in Idaho.
What is the prettiest area of Idaho?
Idaho boasts numerous beautiful areas, each with its own unique charm. However, one of the most frequently celebrated for its breathtaking beauty is the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, encompassing the Sawtooth Wilderness, is a vast expanse of over 750,000 acres in central Idaho. It’s dominated by the jagged peaks of the Sawtooth Range, which give the area its name. The landscape here is truly mesmerizing, with over 400 crystal-clear alpine lakes reflecting the majestic mountains, dense forests, and meandering rivers such as the Salmon River, known as the “River of No Return.”
Hiking, camping, fishing, and photography are popular activities in this pristine wilderness. The area provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, wolves, and mountain goats, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re exploring the scenic byways, backpacking through the wilderness, or simply gazing at a starlit sky free from light pollution, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area captures the wild, rugged beauty that Idaho is renowned for.
While there are other stunning places in Idaho, like Coeur d’Alene, the Seven Devils Mountains, and the Shoshone Falls, the Sawtooths often top the list due to their iconic, untouched beauty.
What is the best time to visit Idaho?
Idaho is a year-round destination, offering different experiences throughout the seasons. The summer months of June to August are the most popular for outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and camping. For winter sports enthusiasts, December through February is the best time to visit.
Is Idaho a good place for a family vacation?
Absolutely! Idaho is filled with family-friendly activities. From exploring the unique landscape of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve to sandboarding at Bruneau Dunes State Park, there’s something for everyone. Plus, the state’s abundance of wildlife and natural beauty make it a great place for an educational and fun-filled family vacation.
What is Idaho most famous for?
While Idaho is famous for its potatoes, it’s also known for its stunning natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and rich history. With its rugged mountains, beautiful lakes, and unique geological formations, it’s a dream destination for nature lovers and adventurers alike.
What is the prettiest place in Idaho?
With so many stunning locations, it’s hard to pick just one. However, many would argue that the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, with its jagged peaks, alpine lakes, and wildflower-filled meadows makes it one of the prettiest places in Idaho.
What is the most scenic town in Idaho?
Coeur d’Alene, with its beautiful lake, charming downtown, and close proximity to outdoor adventures, is often touted as one of the most scenic towns in Idaho.
Idaho’s beauty lies in its vast and diverse landscapes. The state boasts a unique blend of geographies – from high desert landscapes to dense forests, rugged mountains, sparkling lakes, and even lava fields. Each different terrain comes with its own unique ecosystem and wildlife, adding to the state’s natural allure.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Beautiful Places in Idaho
From the tranquil shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene to the otherworldly landscape of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
The beauty of Idaho is as diverse as it is breathtaking.
Each location, with its own unique charm, invites exploration and admiration, making the Gem State a treasure trove of natural wonders.
Whether you’re a lover of the great outdoors, a history buff, or someone who simply appreciates stunning landscapes, Idaho offers something for everyone.
The state’s blend of wilderness, wildlife, and outdoor adventure opportunities is second to none, proving that it’s not just potatoes that Idaho does well.
So, pack your bags, put on your adventurer’s hat, and get ready to discover the most beautiful places in Idaho. It’s a journey you won’t forget!