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  • Taking a jet boat tour on Hells Canyon in Southwest Idaho
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    Hells Canyon: Scenic Beauty, Authentic West

  • Strolling around Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho
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    McCall: A Taste of Small-town Idaho

  • Hiking the White Cloud Trails near Sun Valley Resort in Idaho
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    Sun Valley: An All-season Resort Getaway

  • Scenic overlook over Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho
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    Twin Falls: Natural Wonders & Waterfalls in Southern Idaho

  • Al fresco dining at Fork Restaurant in downtown Boise, Idaho
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    Boise: Time for Food, Drink and Festivities

Overlooking the Snake River Canyon in Southern Idaho
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Idaho Road Trip: Authentic Western Adventure Full of Surprises

By Idoia Gkikas

  • Route distance:
    1050.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

This winding, scenic route through Idaho traces a loop through Western heritage, natural wonders and fun and charming towns.

The gorgeous views seem to never end in Idaho. Neither does the outdoor recreation in this four-season state that features frontier heritage, charming towns and unexpected wonders, including the deepest river gorge in North America. On this road trip, experience a one-of-a-kind itinerary designed to highlight all that Idaho has to offer.

01
Taking a jet boat tour on Hells Canyon in Southwest Idaho
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Hells Canyon: Scenic Beauty, Authentic West

After flying into Boise Airport (BOI), start your journey at Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America, where natural Idaho is at its best. Marvel at this untamed landscape of mountain crests, plunging valleys and wildlife, and take advantage of a plethora of outdoor adventures to soak it all in. Outfitters such as Hells Canyon Adventures offer heart-pounding jet boat tours in the rapids of the Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia River that carves out Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon Adventures’ lodge is conveniently located on the river for fishing and whitewater rafting, too – the best in the state. You can stay here for the night, or get even closer to nature and the western lifestyle at the Seven Devils Lodge in nearby Council. This guest ranch features rugged activities including archery, skeet shooting and horseback riding led by master horse ranchers. At sunset, soak in the dramatic views with dinner at an altitude of 2,400 meters and a campfire under the stars.

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135 km
2 hours by car
02
Strolling around Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho
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McCall: A Taste of Small-town Idaho

Continuing your journey through Southwest Idaho, you’ll be treated to impressive mountain views all the way to McCall. This resort town is hugely popular for skiing in winter and water recreation on Payette Lake in the warmer months. Hop on a boat cruise and have your camera ready for shots of the surrounding peaks of Payette National Forest. You can also enjoy fishing, swimming, picnicking and sun bathing. Stroll through quaint downtown McCall to look for souvenirs and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine at Bistro 45 (grab a table outside if the weather is nice). Satisfy your sweet tooth at Ice Cream Alley, a summertime must. Locals like to stroll along the lake with the famously huge scoops of homemade ice cream.

352 km
4.25 hours by car
03
Hiking the White Cloud Trails near Sun Valley Resort in Idaho
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Sun Valley: An All-season Resort Getaway

As a historic stop on the Union Pacific Railroad and the final resting place of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway, Sun Valley is full of history and charm, but it’s also a popular resort town with something for the whole family. For outdoorsy types, Sun Valley Resort offers year-round activities on two mountains, as well as trails for horseback riding, trail running, hiking and mountain biking. Spend time exploring the rolling, scenic White Cloud Trails across the street from Sun Valley Lodge. Later, stroll the shops and restaurants of the Sun Valley Village, or catch a movie at the historic Opera House. Finish the day with a craft beer and classic American fare at the Village Station, taking in the décor inspired by Sun Valley’s Union Pacific roots and looking forward to another day of adventures in the Wild West.

134 km
1.75 hours by car
04
Scenic overlook over Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho
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Twin Falls: Natural Wonders & Waterfalls in Southern Idaho

Take a detour along Thousand Springs Scenic Byway (Highway 30), showcasing the astounding geological features of the Snake River Canyon, the Thousand Springs Waterfall that cascades from canyon walls and natural hot springs at Miracle & Banbury Hot Springs. You can grab a bite to eat at the Snake River Grill.

Twin Falls is home to Shoshone Falls, dubbed the “Niagara of the West” (it’s actually 14 meters taller than Niagara Falls!). The Visitor Center offers access to hiking on the Canyon Rim Trails and a glimpse of the 150-meter-tall Perrine Bridge, a popular spot for BASE jumpers and the site of Evel Knievel’s attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in 1974 (look for the jump-site monument). Head to Centennial Waterfront Park to try kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding on the Snake River. For dinner, reserve a table on the terrace for elegant, canyon-side dining at Elevation 486, and get your fill of that incredible view before your final stop in Idaho.

208 km
2 hours by car
05
Al fresco dining at Fork Restaurant in downtown Boise, Idaho
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Boise: Time for Food, Drink and Festivities

Driving northwest through the plains, you’ll return to the friendly and walkable state capital of Boise to finish your road trip. Boise mixes history and outdoor beauty with a culture of vibrant events, craft breweries and wineries, and other foodie delights. Get in some quality outdoor time with a hike at Camel’s Back Park and Hulls Gulch Reserve, or rent a bike for a ride along the Boise River Greenbelt. Discover the local Basque community through the restaurants and museums of the “Basque Block,” a single vibrant block in downtown Boise that also features regular events and festivals (think traditional Basque dancing and paella dinners). Take photos at Freak Alley, the largest mural gallery in the northwestern USA. Then, get a taste of Boise’s burgeoning dining scene – try Asian-Latin fusion tacos at The Funky Taco or choose from the popular restaurants and breweries around 8th and Idaho Streets. Be sure to leave enough time to explore this up-and-coming city before your return flight home out of the Boise Airport.

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