Best Under-the-Radar Destinations: 10 Reasons to Visit Idaho

People are talking about Idaho. Some pretty authoritative people, in fact — late last year, the U.S. Census Bureau named Idaho the fastest-growing state in the nation. This gem of a state in the Intermountain Northwest is making top 10 vacation lists for 2018 and has become a staple in annual surveys of best places to live.

People are talking about Idaho. Some pretty authoritative people, in fact — late last year, the U.S. Census Bureau named Idaho the fastest-growing state in the nation. This gem of a state in the Intermountain Northwest is making top 10 vacation lists for 2018 and has become a staple in annual surveys of best places to live.

So what makes Idaho so special? Here are 10 ideas.


Our waterfalls are higher than Niagara. Shoshone Falls, located just outside of the city of Twin Falls, plunges an astonishing 212 feet to the Snake River below. That’s higher than our most famous waterfall to the east. Shoshone Falls is at its most spectacular in the spring and early summer, when snowmelt sends water rushing down at up to 12,000 cubic feet per second. Later in the summer, when the water over the falls has slowed, stand-up paddleboarders can get an up-close look at this natural wonder.

Check out Shoshone Falls View all our Spectacular Waterfalls


You can rock climb in a silent city. The emigrants traveling the California Trail called City of Rocks National Reserve “the silent city.” There aren’t any buildings here, but there are towering, wind-carved hoodoos, granite spires, and monoliths that beg to be admired. And with nearly 700 climbing routes, the adventurous can admire up close.

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It’s easy to get close to the stars here. Idaho is one of the best places in the world to watch the heavens, and we have the credentials to prove it: The International Dark-Sky Association recently granted silver-tier International Dark Sky Park status to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Huge stretches of the state have little-to-no light pollution and clear skies, which attracted eclipse watchers in droves in 2017. At Craters, staff members have installed lighting that faces down rather than up for peak star gazing and host Star Parties that feature an “astronomy ranger” and high-powered telescopes.

Visit Craters of the Moon


We know how to melt stress away. Why own hot tubs when nature provides them for you? In Idaho, visiting hot springs is a part of life. The state — especially the volcanic southern half — is home to hundreds of hot springs. Many of these, such as Banbury, Miracle, Thousand Springs, Durfee, and Nat-Soo-Pah, have been enjoyed by generations of enthusiasts. They’re the perfect place to relax after a long day of exploring, or a destination unto themselves.

Miracle Hot Springs Banbury Hot Springs Durfee Hot Springs Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs


We live on our rivers. Canoeing, tubing, kayaking, rafting, stand-up paddleboarding — if there’s a way to get on the river, Idahoans will use it. The Snake River and its tributaries flow through the southern half of the state, creating endless opportunities for exploration, recreation, and relaxation. Try rafting on the big water of the Murtaugh stretch of the Snake River or spend a lazy afternoon meandering around Ritter Island on a stand-up paddleboard. However you choose to explore, you’ll soon realize why Idahoans revere the Snake.

Rafting in Murtaugh Boating in Burley Fishing in Magic Valley


We get off the beaten track. Why stick to the freeway when you can take a scenic byway? In Southern Idaho, the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway winds through the Snake River Canyon past thousands of waterfalls that spring forth from the canyon’s walls. It’s also home to incredible hot springs, charming small towns, and excellent trout fishing. To the east, the City of Rocks Scenic Byway — a 49-mile necklace of rural, unspoiled landscape — encircles the Albion Mountain Range. Here, you’ll find the Cleveland Recreation Area and City of Rocks National Reserve.

Check out Thousand Springs Learn about City of Rocks


We’re rich in national parks and monuments. Idaho is home to some of the most interesting national parks and monuments in the country. There’s the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, where you can see the fossilized remains of the ancestor of the modern-day horse; City of Rocks National Reserve, home to outstanding rock spires and outcroppings; Minidoka National Historic Site, where hundreds of Japanese and Japanese-Americans were interned during WWII; and Craters of the Moon National Monument, a see-it-to-believe-it massive, ancient volcanic field.

Hagerman City of Rocks Minidoka Craters of the Moon Reconnect With Nature & History with our National Monuments


Turn-of-the-century Western charm survives here. Idaho features some of the best-preserved late 19th– and early 20th-century architecture in the West. Step back into the early 1900s in Rupert, where a classic town square — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is flanked by charming buildings. The 1920 flatiron gem Wilson Building and Theatre was recently renovated and is home once again to music and theatre performances. Oakley, a 45-minute drive from Rupert, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to its outstanding collection of old stone and brick buildings that date back to 1883. Much of the town’s building materials were quarried nearby. In fact, you can still outfit your own home with shimmery, silvery Oakley stone.

Check out Rupert Check out Oakley


You’ve probably feasted on our trout. Did you know that 70 percent of the trout enjoyed in the United States comes from Buhl, Idaho? This beautiful location on the Snake River is host to the perfect conditions for raising fat, healthy trout: Pure stream water bubbles and flows out of the Snake River Plain Aquifer at a cool 58 degrees, creating an ideal home for these fish. You can try your hand at fishing for your own Hagerman trout at the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area.

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We make life easy. With so much to see in Idaho, it can be hard to know where to start! We make it easy: Our top-notch visitor centers are great resources for travelers. Friendly staff can help you find a place to see, give you tips on the best areas to explore, and help you create itineraries. Plus, our visitor centers have some of the best views in the country.

Visitor Information Twin Falls Visitor Center Travel Guide

Come discover for yourself why people are talking about Idaho! Use our easy guide to start planning your trip today.


Nature Is Ready to Put On a Show

This spring, get outside and watch Mother Nature show off thousands of sparkling, rushing, tumbling waterfalls. We’ve put together a guide that includes out-of-the-way gems and crowd-pleasing stunners.

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