Idaho State Parks
There are many great camping grounds in Idaho, making it the perfect vacation destination for lovers of the outdoors! At Ponderosa State Park, visitors may opt to rent out deluxe cabins although those who want a more rustic experience should go for the park’s primitive campsites.
Farragut State Park also has a lot of incredible camping sites. Teenagers and young adults, in particular, love this park since it’s located only a short drive away from Silverwood Theme Park, the largest theme park in the region with its hair-raising rollercoasters and attractions.
If you want to try camping at the oldest state park in the Pacific Northwest, then Heyburn State Park is perfect for you! There are endless nature trails that can be explored and visitors will wake up to stunning views of the sunrise over Lake Chatcolet.
Campers who prefer to camp by the lakeside should also check out sites at Lake Cascade State Park. This is the park where unforgettable summer memories are made!
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Idaho is famous for its swoon-worthy hiking trails and one of the best ones is the Shoreline Loop Trail at Farragut State Park. This 1.5-mile long trail is beginner-friendly and a favorite among families, taking them through the park’s beautiful nature scenery and lush forests.
The 5,000-acre Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park also has many hiking trails. A popular one is the Iron Mountain Trail, a stunning 1.3-mile route that leads up to and around Iron Mountain. The trail culminates in a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscapes.
If you’re into historic hiking routes, then Pohogwe Trail, Memorial Trail, and Wagon Rut Trail found at Massacre Rocks State Park should be on your bucket list. These routes are all based on the historical, geological, and cultural happenings in the Massacre Rocks area.
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Backpacking enthusiasts will love the adventure that awaits them at Priest Lake State Park where the Upper Priest Lake Trail is a perfect day backpacking hike that winds through the stunning wilderness of North Idaho.
Those who want a longer backpacking trip should head over to the City of Rocks National Reserve where the 6.3-mile North Fork Circle Creek awaits. This trail offers nature sceneries like no other. Take a look at our review of the best backpacking hatchet. Grab one that is easy to pack and can help get your campfire going.
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With 26,000 miles of streams and rivers, and over 3,000 natural lakes, Idaho is an angler’s paradise! The best fishing hole in the state is Farragut State Park whose Lake Pend Oreille is full of whitefish, trout, mackinaw, and more. The park also lies close to four other lakes – Cocolalla, Hayden, Spirit, and Twin – so take your pick!
Harriman State Park, which is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is another top fishing spot in Idaho. The best fly fishing in the state can be found here and Henry’s Fork is renowned as one of the best rivers in the world to fish in.
Those who want to fish with a view will love Henry’s Lake State Park. Henry’s Lake is a beautiful mountain lake that attracts anglers from all over the country. Be advised, however, that the park is only open for fishing from May to October.
Geocaching enthusiasts can seek the concealed caches found at Swan Falls Park and Recreation Area and Bliss Reservoir Park. They’re notoriously hard to find so keep your eyes peeled and your GPS devices fully-charged!
Day Use Areas
If you want to go on an unforgettable picnic trip, then Idaho is your best bet! At Harriman State Park, lay your spread next to the incredible Henry’s Fork and take your meal amid the sweet smell of summer wildflowers while taking in views of the world-renowned tributary river.
Those who are after a romantic atmosphere should check out the picnic areas at Ponderosa State Park. The park is frequented by couples going on dates due to its exhilarating views of Payette Lake.
Land of the Yankee Fork State Park also has some of the best picnic grounds in the state. Here, visitors can picnic with views of the state’s tallest mountain range and numerous lost rivers. The seasonal foliage also offers the perfect backdrop to your afternoon picnic.
Boating enthusiasts will be pleased to know that there are many waterfront campgrounds in Idaho. Ponderosa State Park, in particular, is situated on a thousand-acre peninsula on Payette Lake. The park offers beautiful campgrounds and its beautiful scenery is best explored while on a boat.
At Heyburn State Park, visitors can choose between three different lakes to paddle in. Don’t miss the stunning sunset over the water before you turn in for the night!
Harriman State Park is home to hundreds of bird species, making it the ideal destination for birdwatchers from all over the United States. Its mix of grassland, coniferous forest and lake habitats are perfect for spotting unique birds including the Great Blue Heron, the American White Pelican, and the Long-billed Curlew. They are easy to spot with birding binoculars. However, the park is most famous for its winter population of the Trumpeter Swan so keep your eyes peeled for this graceful-looking bird!
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Idaho is the best summer destination in the United States due to its abundance of incredible swimming holes! Payette Lake at Ponderosa State Park is one of the more popular ones although be sure to get here early as the park tends to get crowded during the hottest days of summer.
Lake Cascade State Park is also a great swimming spot with plenty of opportunities for water skiing, boarding, and tubing. Those who want a more relaxing recreational activity can choose to rent kayaks and paddleboards from the park’s golf shop.
The large sandy beaches at Priest Lake State Park are an underrated swimming hole! Beat the scorching heat by diving into the lake’s cool waters and afterward, relax at its well-kept day-use areas.
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Rock Climbing and Mountaineering
There are plenty of rock climbing opportunities in Idaho and some of them can be found at Castle Rocks State Park. The park’s challenging routes are made for intermediate climbers who want to show off their skills!
Huge and towering boulders that make for great climbing can also be found at Massacre Rocks State Park.
The Big Southern Butte that lies adjacent to Craters of the Moon National Monument boasts of over 68 miles of ATV trails that will take you through Idaho’s breathtaking landscapes. You may need to refuel while traversing this route, though, so make sure to keep a tank of spare gas in hand so you won’t end up stuck in the middle of nowhere.
There are five golf courses at Farragut State Park, making it the go-to destination for golfing enthusiasts visiting Idaho. All five courses have 18 holes although they vary in terms of elevation and natural challenges.
An 18-hole course can also be found at Massacre Rocks State Park where golfers can enjoy stunning views of the wilderness as they play.
Those who prefer longer games will find the courses at Lucky Peak State Park to their liking. The 20-hole Lydle Gulch Blue Course and Lydle Gulch Gold Course are both perfect for golfers looking to perfect their game.
If you prefer to explore the wilderness on horseback, then Idaho’s state parks are made for you! Horseback riding trails can be found at Castle Rocks State Park, Harriman State Park, Heyburn State Park, and more.
Farragut State Park, in particular, offers overnight accommodations that are specifically designed for horses so you won’t have to shell out a lot of money to ensure that your beloved pet has a comfortable place to stay in.
Recreational Equipment Rentals
If you’re planning to rent kayaks, make sure to check out those offered by Hells Gate State Park. River guides may also be availed of so visitors can get an in-depth tour of the beautiful sights surrounding Snake River.
At Bruneau Dunes State Park, rent a few sandboards and go sledding on the dunes! After an exhausting day under the sun, relax underneath the dark night sky packed with bright desert stars. The unique activities offered by this park draws hundreds of visitors all year long so be sure to reserve your slot early on.
Besides potatoes, Idaho is also famous for its abundance of historical sites and monuments. Farragut State Park used to be the largest World War II naval training base in the world and was also turned into a Nazi POW camp. Today, the park has a museum and several interpretative areas where visitors can learn more about its fascinating history.
On the other hand, Castle Rocks State Park used to be a gathering place for Native Americans who lived in the area. A thorough history of Idaho’s ranching scene can be explored at the park.
At Heyburn State Park, the oldest state park in Idaho, visitors can see for themselves the structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corp. It’s undoubtedly a learning experience that everyone will benefit from!
There’s always something for everyone in Idaho, no matter the season! At Lake Cascade State Park, visitors can participate in Nordic skiing and ice fishing. Those itching to explore the shores of the lake or do some winter bird-watching can put on their snowshoes to walk along the shoreline. The park also offers winter camping sites, as well as fat biking activities.
Bear Lake State park is also a popular winter destination, allowing visitors the opportunity to snowmobile through thick snow. The surrounding mountain ranges offer approximately 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails without fences or crowds. Keep an eye out for the occasional elk and moose that roam the snowy countryside!
Additionally, Nordic skiing can be done at Harriman State Park, which has over 24-miles of groomed trails. Visitors can also rent a pair of snowshoes to explore the park’s incredible backwoods.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
If you’re looking to explore Idaho’s stunning marine life, then look no further than Bear Lake State Park. Commonly referred as the “Carribean of the Rockies,” the turquoise waters of Bear Lake are the perfect diving spot. This natural wonder will surely give you an unforgettable experience!
For a more unique surfing experience, head on over to Bruneau Dunes State Park whose huge sand dunes are perfect for sandboarding! It may look intimidating and difficult to master, but this activity is anything but that. The park offers both stand-up and sled-style sandboards so everyone can try out this thrilling activity, no matter their balancing skills. Be sure to visit this park in March so you’ll beat the summer crowd.