(Last Updated On: August 17, 2022)

picnic table beside a lake next to a dune in a state park near boise idaho

While Idaho only has 27 state parks, they rank as some of the most picturesque in the whole of America.

Appropriately named ‘The Gem State’, that is precisely what these state parks can be described as. Absolute gems, that showcase areas of outstanding geological, historical and cultural significance.

Boasting landscapes that include imposing peaks, dense forestland, gorgeous rivers and lakes and jaw-dropping sand dunes, Idaho is the perfect place to reconnect with nature.

If you live near Idaho’s state capital, these public recreation spaces are very easy to get to.

So in case you fancy exploring the great outdoors, here is a list of 5 state parks near Boise you should visit.

Map of State Parks Near Boise ID

Here is a map of the Idaho state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Boise

Located throughout Idaho, all of these fabulous state parks near Boise can be reached within a 3 hour and 15 minute drive from the city.

This means they can all be visited on a day trip. Though if you would prefer to spend a bit of time at any of them, you can do so via the varied camping accommodation options they have available.

1. Bruneau Dunes State Park

Location: 27608 Bruneau Sand Dunes Rd, Bruneau, ID 83604

At just an hour’s drive south of Boise, the Bruneau Dunes State Park is the closest public recreational space to Idaho’s state capital.

Boasting the tallest, single structured sand dune in the USA, the peaks here soar to an incredible 470 feet above the arid desert floor. You’ll gape with wonder as you hike through, or slide down them on a sandboard.

Fishing for bluegill, which are plentiful in the lakes that reside at the base of the dune, as well as horseback riding through the desert are also popular activities here. As is taking in the majesty of the stars via the selection of telescopes they have at the observatory.

Offering camping all year round, the Bruneau Dunes State Park has 82 service and 35 standard sites for cabins, RVs and campsites. In addition there are 2 ADA campsites and 2 cabins as well. While facilities include flush toilets, showers, a dump station and fire rings.

2. Lake Cascade State Park

Location: 100 Kelly’s Pkwy, Cascade, ID 83611

Located an hour and 40 minutes drive northwest of Boise, the Lake Cascade State Park is a terrific place to head to if you are into windsurfing and sail boating.

Covering a distance of 500 acres, this public recreation space is centered around the spectacular body of water which gives the park its name.

An impoundment of the Payette River’s North Fork, this lake is also a haven for those who love kayaking, SUP, canoeing and, in particular, fishing. As there is an abundance of coho Salmon, Rainbow Trout and Small Mouth Bass all year round.

Away from the water, mountain biking and hiking trails will give you plenty of park to explore, while the Payette River provides exhilarating white water riding opportunities.

As the park is a popular one, Lake Cascade provides hundreds of options for camping. Which are dotted around 86 miles of shoreline that provide magnificent views of both the lake and the surrounding mountain range.

3. Lake Walcott State Park

Location: 959 Minidoka Dam Rd, Rupert, ID 83350

Tucked away near the scenic Minidoka Dam, Lake Walcott State Park is a picturesque spot on the edge of Idaho’s high dessert.

Reached via a 2 hour and 45 minute drive south east from Boise, the park encompasses 65 acres of the lake’s western shoreline.

As well as offering plenty of opportunities to partake in most of the usual recreational water activities, this public recreational space is also known for its fantastic fishing.

In addition, it boasts a world class, 21 hole disc golf course, and a lovely grassy shaded picnic area. The park is also a splendid base to enjoy birding at the nearby Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge, which is among the best in the whole of Idaho.

Campers can choose between 22 serviced and 18 standard camping sites for RVs and tents. As well as primitive sites that can be set up along the water’s edge. Other amenities at the campground include toilets, showers, a boat ramp, a dump station, charcoal grills and fire rings.

4. Castle Rocks State Park

Location: 748 E Castle Rock Rd, Almo, ID 83312

Situated a 3 hour and 15 minutes drive south east of Boise, the Castle Rocks State Park is the furthest park from the city.

Although it is well worth the drive, as you will find yourself in the spectacular surrounds of Big Cove, which is nestled at the foothills of Cache Peak, within the imposing Albion Mountains.

Incorporating 1,692 acres, this park offers hundreds of trails to explore either via hiking, biking or horseback riding, that will showcase jaw-dropping, living history that dates back 2.5 millions years.

Castle Rocks State Park is also a popular spot for rock climbers who come here from all around the world. As well as history buffs that flock to see Native American pictographs and other landmarks like historic trail crossings.

The pet friendly campsites enjoy a fabulous location, nestled among the largest pinyon pine forest in Idaho, which just happens to be on the eastern slope of the iconic 7,500-foot Smoky Mountain.

Overall there are 37 serviced and 6 equestrian sites. You can also choose to stay at a yurt, a lodge, or a bunkhouse.

5. Massacre Rocks State Park

Location: 3592 W Park St, American Falls, ID 83211

Nestled on the fringes of the mighty Snake River, the Massacre Rocks State Park is known for its rich history.

Open all year round, it will take you 3 hours to drive south east there. But once you arrive you will be able to enjoy several trails that showcase different scenic wonders, as well as the history of the Oregon Trail, and the beautiful flora and fauna in the area.

Another popular state park for rock climbing, Massacre Rocks has its own disc golf course which is one of the toughest courses in Idaho. Surrounding Register Rock you will also find a beautiful area for a picnic too.

The campsite here has 42 serviced sites for tents and RVs, and 4 cabins. There are also flush toilets, showers, a dump station and fire rings provided.