Lying on the western edge of the Continental Divide, Idaho’s volcanic and tectonic history is to thank for the Gem State’s staggering, rugged geography. Our jagged landscapes provide a playground for all types of climbing. Hailed as one of Idaho’s top climbing locations for trad climbers, Elephant’s Perch is a 1,000-foot wall featuring roughly 30 routes – with ratings 5.9-5.12 – that loom over the scenic Saddleback Lakes (pack your license and rod for the trout!). City of Rocks National Reserve is aptly named for the thousands of granite formations rising like skyscrapers across the southeastern Idaho desert. Internationally renowned, this climbing mecca has over 600 routes ranging from 30 to 600 feet and with ratings of 5.6-5.14.BASE Jumping
Towering 486 feet above the base of the Snake River Canyon, the I.B. Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls provides the ideal setting for BASE (Building, Antenna, Span or Earth) jumping. Similar to skydiving, thrill-seekers equipped with a parachute leap from a fixed platform at a lower altitude and free-fall before pulling their chute and floating to the canyon floor. Enthusiasts of the extreme sport travel from all over the world to Twin Falls to experience the scenic view of the canyon with a heaping side of heart-pounding adrenaline. Best of all: the bridge is one of a few open to jumpers year-round without a permit.
Cat & Heli-Skiing
When conquering black-diamond runs becomes a tad too familiar, it’s time to tackle new territory in Idaho’s backcountry. Book a cat skiing trip at Brundage Mountain Resort, where local guides serve up plenty of waist-deep pow on bluebird days, or brace yourself for Schweitzer Mountain Resort’s heli-skiing — where you’ll descend 10,000-14,000 of vertical feet as you navigate alpine cirque bowls, powder fields, chutes, glades and covered tree runs.
Offering thousands of miles of single-track around the state, you’ll find challenging trails wherever you go. The chairlift at Tamarack Resort’s Bike Park takes riders to mid-mountain where you’ll have access to 20 trails and 1,700 vertical feet packed with multiple rock slabs, steep runs, rocky chutes and other technical terrain. Silver Mountain Bike Park claims North America’s longest single stage gondola, which provides access to 3,400 feet of some of Idaho’s best lift-served downhill trails.
From evergreen valleys and snow-covered hills to sand-swept desert landscapes, throttle-happy adventurers will find all kinds of designated off-road territory to get their motor running. Big Southern Butte, near Arco and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, features one of the largest dormant volcanic domes and breathtaking views along a 68-mile, off-road loop that takes you to an elevation of 7,500 feet (pro tip: bring extra fuel). Northwest of Idaho Falls, the St. Anthony Sand Dunes rise up to 400 feet above the valley floor, treating off-roading enthusiasts to a day of dune buggy fun, Idaho-style.
Nothing compares to the thrill of wind in your face as you soar over forest canopies, creeks, canyons and valleys at speeds up to 55 mph. Zip lining in Idaho offers some of the best vantage points for experiencing the state’s raw beauty as you zoom from platform to platform. Outfitters are peppered across the Gem State, so you won’t have any trouble finding some high-speed fun.
Home to the most navigable miles of whitewater in the lower 48, it’s no wonder Idaho tops several lists when it comes to paddling adventures. Splash your way through Class III and IV rapids on the iconic Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Promising 100 rapids over 100 miles, this is the definition of a wilderness trip, packed with spectacular scenery, wildlife, hot springs and trout fishing along the way. Fans of big drops will want to experience Hells Canyon’s Granite rapid for an unrivaled adrenaline rush. The Selway and Lochsa rivers promise early season thrills while the Main Salmon, is popular with families looking for half-day to multi-day adventures.
Welcome to winter’s wildest sport! Pairing a horseback rider with a skier, skijoring is a thrilling sport where the galloping horse pulls the skier at a fast clip (clocked as high as 47 mph) through an obstacle course consisting of jumps and gates — while sometimes collecting rings — for the fastest time. You’ll find intense competitions around the state like the Wood River Extreme Skijoring event in Bellevue. Or, if you prefer to be towed by an ATV instead, head to the Extreme SkiJor competition in the heart of downtown Wallace.
View these Travel Tips for more heart-pounding activities.