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Surrounded by states like Utah and Washington, which people tend to visit more often, Idaho often gets left behind in the dust. Yet that would be a huge mistake because Idaho has many secret gems hidden within. By going against the crowd, you’ll travel on some of the most picturesque highways in the country, witness waterfalls taller than Niagara, and stumble upon rocky formations that appear to be out-of-this-world. Here are several unique places to visit in Idaho that you’ll want to add to your bucket list when you visit the state.
Things to do in Idaho That Are Unique To The State
As an Idaho Native, I think I have taken for granted all that my state has to offer. From some of the greatest hiking, to the gorgeous lakes, water skiing in the summer and snow skiing in the fall, to the natural beauty in the state. There are so many things to do in Idaho that I overlooked… until 2020 happened.
2020 put a halt to exploring other parts of the world, and so we had to look in our own backyard for things to do and places to explore. With this, we found a lot of unique places to visit in Idaho that you won’t want to miss.
1. Black Magic Canyon – Shoshone
You may get a strange feeling when venturing down into the Black Magic Canyon, surrounding yourself with black canyon walls and then stumbling upon strange-shaped geological specimens. Everything about the canyon is interesting and mysterious. After all, there are not many places like it on Earth.
Yet beware! Reaching the canyon isn’t for the faint of heart, and I say this for several reasons. Hiking over the slippery basalt rocks can be dangerous if you’re not being extremely cautious. For those of you that have a fear of snakes, rattlesnakes are also an obstacle that you may have to work your way around.
Lastly, if you fail to call the Big Wood Canal Company before you visit this unique wonder in Idaho, you could end up caught in a flash flood that could prove fatal. (Their number is 208-886-2331 if you’re thinking about braving it).
2. Bruneau Sand Dunes
Reaching a height of up to 470 feet, the sand dunes at Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park boasts the record as the tallest structural sand dunes in all of North America. The dunes are spread out over 4,800 acres of land and leave it totally up to you if you decide on sledding or biking down one of them in order to make your visit a more thrilling experience. If you plan on visiting during the weekend, the park holds a stargazing event at its observatory that you and your kids won’t want to miss.
My family loves heading out here to go sandboarding, an activity we discovered on a trip to Florence, Oregon. We had so much fun doing it, we were ecstatic when we learned there was somewhere in Idaho we could go on a day trip to enjoy this activity.
3. Celebration Park Petroglyphs – Melba
The Celebration Park Petroglyphs is an archaeological park that’s located in Canyon County featuring petroglyphs that are between 100 and 10,000 years old. You’ll learn about the Paleolithic and Archaic peoples that once lived in the area, along with Idaho’s early railroad and mining history as well. There are also first-come, first-serve camping and picnic tables for day use available.
4. Craters of the Moon
When you first arrive at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, you may get the feeling like you’ve stepped out onto another planet due to its strange lava flow landscape, rocky formations, and the overall bareness feeling that you get. But I don’t say this to deter you because it’s a truly neat place to witness fascinating views. Scientists speculate that the area that’s now peaceful, was once a violent volcanic region.
5. Giant Cedar Grove
It’s a remarkable and humbling experience for any person when standing next to any one of the Giant Cedar Grove trees that are located on the eastern side of Moscow Mountain. These massive trees are estimated to be around 1,000 years old, making them some of the oldest trees that are still standing in the world. The trail there is an easy short hike that’s suitable for all ages.
My family was missing the Redwoods in Humboldt County, and were excited to learn we had our own massive trees in our home state.
6. Gravity Hill – Grangeville
Have you ever put your car in neutral on a hill and noticed it rolling uphill before? Against gravity? Chances are, probably not, but that’s exactly what you’ll come across when visiting the town of Grangeville, Idaho. As it turns out, Gravity Hill is really an optical illusion, but it’s still a neat thing to witness.
If you want to find this strange phenomenon, head north on Mount Idaho Grape Road. Once you reach the point where trees start to obscure the horizon, you’ve reached the starting point.
Not going to lie, my family goes through the Grangeville area often on our way to Lewiston to visit family. We have always taken a side route that bypasses the main township. After learning of this place, we are definitely going to go through and check it out. My kids will think we are magic!
7. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Though its name may alarm you, Hells Canyon is another one you’ll want to cross off your list when visiting the state of Idaho. It just so happens to be North America’s deepest river gorge, yet its peaks still reach an impressive 600 feet higher than what the Grand Canyon’s do! There are a handful of entry points that you can get into the gorge, with Lewiston being the most popular of the bunch. This is one of the most unique places to visit in Idaho.
8. Ketchum and Sun Valley
Whether you decide to visit in springtime or winter, the Sun Valley and Ketchum have some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Idaho. Won’t take my word for it? Ernest Hemingway fell in love with the surrounding meadows and mountains so much that he was laid to rest there.
If you’re visiting at the right time, the town also holds fun and entertaining annual festivals that you won’t want to miss, like the Wagon Days Festival and the Trailing of the Sheep.
9. Kirkham Hot Springs
You will find an abundance of hot springs that you can soak in within the state of Idaho, yet Kirkham Hot Springs in Lowman is arguably amongst the most popular. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit Bonneville Hot Springs or some of the other ones while you’re there.
10. Shoshone Falls
The majestic Shoshone Falls are impressively higher than those of Niagara Falls, crashing down from over 200 feet in height! The falls are worth the visit all on their own, but there are also several recreational facilities, activities, and things to do in the park, including picnic tables, swimming area, playgrounds, and hiking trails.
The only downside is that the park doesn’t offer overnight camping, so you’ll want to find a place to stay somewhere in Twin Falls.
While in the area, also check out Thousand Springs. In fact, this entire area is rich with waterfalls and my family has made a day trip of going here in the spring to see all of them.
11. Tetons from Driggs
A vast majority of the visitors that witness the Grand Tetons do so from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but that’s what makes the Driggs side of the mountain range that much more unique. It’s an intimate experience with not only fewer people, but also with its affordability.
You just have to decide whether you witness the Tetons from the Teton Scenic Byway or from the sky during their annual hot air balloon event that they hold during the summer.
As you can see, there are many unique and fascinating places to visit when you’re in the state of Idaho. You’ll witness the beauty, history, bizarre landscapes, and hidden gems there that will take your breath away. What are some unique places to visit in Idaho that you’d like to visit?
1 thought on “10+ Unique Places to Visit In Idaho”
Thanks for compiling this list of great ideas. The grand tetons really are spectacular.