Idaho is a state that many are just now starting to become more and more familiar with. Idaho, not to be confused with Iowa or Ohio, has a multilayered reputation, or in other words, is known for many different reasons; anywhere from being one of the country’s largest producers of potatoes, and therefore fueling American’s French Fry hankering, to being the passing mention in a growing number of blockbuster films in the past few years (think La La Land), to being perhaps one of the smallest states, population-wise, in the entire country. Idaho is steadily growing in popularity, however, due to these and a multitude of other reasons, including one, important reason, perhaps the most important of all.
Idaho Road Trip – The Gem State
Idaho’s official state nickname is, “the Gem State”, which although is, in part, a reference to the number of precious ores and metals that can be found all across the state, in broader terms can also relate to Idaho being a real “gem” of a state. Idaho is, arguably, a “gem” in a number of ways, but one of the most prominent of those being the sheer beauty of the Idaho outdoors. Idaho is one of the largest states in terms of area, being 14th largest, but with a population of just under 2 million, the state remains largely untamed and in its natural state, with few exceptions. This allows for a staggering amount of opportunities to immerse oneself into the wild, escaping the day to day grind of civilization and embracing the natural beauty of the state. As such, outdoor activities such as camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, and so many more are easily accessible and quite popular amongst many of Idaho’s residents. One such activity that, at first glance, may not seem to come to mind when one thinks of outdoor activities, but could very well be put in that category, is one that Idaho, in all its splendor, is absolutely perfect for Road trips.
Idaho Road Trip – The Stops
As there are quite a number of fantastic and easily accessible road trip destinations in Idaho, this article will only contain a few, listed in no particular order. With that in mind, here are a few places in Idaho that definitely need to be your road trip hot spots:
The Panhandle of Idaho
Located in what’s referred to as the “panhandle” of Idaho (not to be confused with the Florida panhandle), is the scenic town of Coeur d’Alene, and beside it, the aptly named Lake Coeur d’Alene. According to one website, Lake Coeur d’Alene “spans 26 miles and boasts more than 135 miles of shoreline.” Of Coeur d’Alene itself, the same website states, “This international resort destination is home to the Coeur d’Alene Resort, Silverwood Theme Park (the Northwest’s largest theme park), and a never-ending list of outdoor activities.” The area in and around Coeur d’Alene itself is arguably one of the most beautiful in Idaho, loved by many and frequented often by people all around the country, and as previously stated, from around the world. Definitely a heavy hitter as far as travel destinations are concerned, depending on the time of year Coeur d’Alene can be fairly busy for a small town, giving you the best of both an escape from the world and the comforts of modern life.
Another fixed road trip destination is that of Stanley, Idaho. One author described Stanley in this way: “At the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains, the tiny town of Stanley (population 63) is one of the last remaining holdouts of the Idaho frontier. Scenically located, pristinely untouched, this town feels a little like stepping into the past. With access to nearly any type of outdoor recreation you can possibly imagine, Stanley serves as a gateway to an entire world of Idaho adventures.” At just a little over two hours outside the capital city of Boise, Stanley is one of those communities in Idaho where one can truly escape to. Perhaps not as popular as other resort-like towns in the state, but arguably just as beautiful, Stanley’s small population and proximity to some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Idaho makes Stanley a true getaway from just about anything, and anyone. With great hiking trails, horseback riding services and comfortable lodging, it would be hard not to fall in love with such a remarkable place as Stanley.
Craters of the Moon National Monument
If you’re looking for a particularly otherworldly experience, the aptly named Craters of the Moon is where you need to be. A spectacle for many years, the Craters of the Moon got its name from its supposed resemblance to the Moon’s surface, so much so that during the days of the Apollo astronauts (the first men on the Moon) would complete part of their training there. Created by volcanic activity uncounted years ago, Craters of the Moon “spans 750,000 acres, roughly the same size as the state of Rhode Island. This vast ocean of lava-coated terrain includes lava tubes, cinder cones, and fissures.” Craters of the Moon is pretty easy to get to, being just a little over 3 hours outside of the capital city, just far enough to make it a good day trip. Overall, Craters of the Moon is one of the most unique destinations in all of southern Idaho, and a must-see for any visitor or resident alike.
While you’re in southern Idaho, another fantastic destination is Twin Falls. Of Twin Falls, or just “Twin” as some residents refer to it as, and some of the attractions nearby, was described this way by another author, “Located along the dramatic cliffs of the Snake River Canyon, the city of Twin Falls has a high desert climate but tons of outdoor water recreation. Walk, run, or bike along the spectacularly scenic Snake River Canyon Rim Trail. The rim trail can be picked up from the northern terminus of Washington Street, next to the Visitor Center, or in Shoshone Park. Venture out to the famed Evil Knievel jump site, watch BASE jumpers leap from Perrine Bridge, or grab a drink at Elevation 486 and watch the sunset over the canyon….. (Perrine-Coulee Falls) drops nearly 200 feet down into the Snake River Canyon, creating a continuous ribbon of water as it falls. Unlike most waterfalls, Perrine-Coulee Falls actually increases in strength during the summer because water used for irrigation spills over into the Coulee River. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, there’s even trail that leads behind the falls.”