Idaho outdoor activities (biking, camping, fishing, hiking, etc.)
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Hells Canyon is North America’s deepest river gorge, 8,913 feet at its deepest.
- Idaho has more river miles (3,100) than any other U.S. state.
- Idaho is the nation’s largest producer of trout.
- Soda Springs Geyser, released during drilling in 1937, is the world’s largest manmade geyser (70+ feet).
- Birds of Prey National Conservation Area has the world’s highest concentration of nesting eagles, falcons and hawks.
Like a national park
Idaho boasts resorts for relaxation, an arts and culture scene, Native American experiences and sightseeing attractions associated with the exploration and settlement of the West, but its biggest touristic draw is the great big outdoors. In other words, everything that man had nothing to do with!
One of America’s larger states (No. 13), Idaho sits in the Rockies to the west of the continental divide. The state is a neighbor to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, a fact that hints at the type of scenery found in Idaho itself.
The state’s northern panhandle is noted for green hills and numerous lakes. Central Idaho is characterized by rugged mountains, wilderness areas, as well as farmland. The Snake River Plain in the southern tier sets the stage for broader vistas, extensive farmlands and the state’s cities.
For those who rate Idaho’s outdoor choices highly, top lures start with everything watery — the lakes for boating and other still-water recreation, the rivers for whitewater rafting at all levels of difficulty and both the lakes and rivers for blue-ribbon fishing.
The landscape is equally compelling to those who like biking, camping, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding or other such activities. The state boasts more than 19,000 miles of trails for biking, cross-country skiing, hiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling.
Finally, for visitors who don’t look to shoot the rapids or climb a rock, the scenery is a key motivator. Travelers drive the scenic byways, stare at nature’s oddities, follow the autumn leaves and photograph the wildlife. Some simply inhale the scenery while on a golf course or enjoy nature another way when a guest at a hot springs resort.
Regardless of how a traveler defines an outdoorsy trip, Idaho has something for most tastes and thus it rates well with several personality types. The thinly populated state, with fewer than 2 million people, attracts more than 20 million visitors a year. An awfully lot of them come to play in the outdoors.
Things to do for Venturers
- Take a powerboat through Hells Canyon’s rapids. Or, step up the action with a multiday jetboat excursion. The boats depart from Hells Canyon Dam, Lewiston, Riggins, Salmon and White Bird.
- Go for a whitewater trip on the Lochsa, a river the Nez Perce Indians called “rough water.” Boasting Class III and IV rapids, it parallels the Lewis and Clark route. Or choose the Selway with 60 miles of Class III, IV and V rapids. Book up to a year in advance because only one launch per day is permitted here.
- Book a llama trek into the backcountry of Idaho.
- Just once, go where the crowds are, whether at a rodeo or the Mountain Brewers’ Beer Fest, both at Sandy Downs Racecourse in Idaho Falls, or the August Chief Lookingglass Powwow on the Nez Perce Reservation.
- Use some part of the 925 miles of trails in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area for backpacking, hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking. Carry packets that include insect repellent, first aid kits, snake bite kits (rattlesnakes) and poison oak lotion.
- Go off road on an ATV. Countless miles of trails and old logging roads are available in national forests and Idaho state parks.
Things to do for Centrics
- Bike or hike the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha, a former railroad bed, for one of the country’s most scenic routes. Described as relatively easy, it is not boring; it passes through or across 10 tunnels and seven high trestles in the Bitterroot Mountain Range. The so-called Taft Tunnel extends 1.66 miles in the dark.
- The Payette River offers whitewater rafting at many levels. Choose the 11-mile Cabarton Run on the North Fork for a mix of quiet floats and Class I to III rapids.
- Do your fly-fishing for trout on the Henry’s Fork or Silver Creek, among other streams.
- Go bird-watching in the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and look for the nesting eagles, falcons and hawks.
- Stay in an RV park that gives you ready access to a lake or river for boating or fishing.
- Stay at a guest ranch where you can ride the trails on horseback, or join a hayride, or maybe be involved in a cattle drive if you are comfortable enough on a horse.
Things to do for Authentics
- Get a look at the Soda Springs Geyser, which shoots its water into the air hourly, on the hour.
- In winter, ski the mountains and enjoy apres-ski comforts at a ski lodge. Or, in summer, head to a ski resort anyway — for golfing.
- Fish for North America’s largest freshwater fish, the sturgeon, in the rivers Kootenai, Salmon or Snake.
- See Craters of the Moon National Monument, which looks like something out of science fiction. That is because a volcanic episode left a ghostly plain dotted with strange formations of lava and rock.
- Drive along one of the several national scenic byways that wend their way through Idaho. Watch for highway signs pointing to designated wildlife viewing places because Idaho has a diverse and sizeable collection of animals worth looking for.
- Swim in one of the state’s hot springs. Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs at Hollister has a swimming pool fed by a 99-degree spring, a spa and hot soak pool, plus a 90-foot water slide.
For more information, consult the Idaho Division of Tourism at www.visitidaho.org