Cascading waterfalls, geologic wonders, and superb hot springs are just a few of the Gem State’s hidden secrets. You can explore them on your own, you just have to know where to look. Get your road trip plans ready with these seven Idaho wonders that will absolutely take your breath away.
1. Mesa Falls
Start your journey with a stop at one of Idaho’s most unique natural attractions. This eastern Idaho spectacle is made up of two towering waterfalls, Upper Mesa Falls and Lower Mesa Falls. Upper Mesa Falls stands 10 stories high and tumbles down a volcanic rockface left behind by an ancient volcanic super-eruption. To check out the second waterfall, hop back in the car or hike a short trail south about a mile to find Lower Mesa Falls. There’s a scenic walking path suitable for all ages that leads to excellent viewpoints at both falls and the Mesa Falls Visitor Center has fun exhibits on the area’s geology and history.
2. Teton Scenic Byway
Next on the list? A scenic drive on the western side of the majestic Teton Mountains. The Teton Scenic Byway weaves along the western slopes of the Teton Range past Tetonia and through Driggs and Victor. This 70-mile journey includes sweeping green vistas, rivers, and historic sites where the kids can hop out and stretch their legs. Make sure to check out the Teton Geotourism Center in Driggs for hands-on history exhibits, maps, and other adventure planning tips. If you’re looking for a sweet treat to top off your trip, grab a Huckleberry shake at the Victor Emporium in Victor.
3. Lava Hot Springs
Cool off, or heat things up, in Lava Hot Springs. This traveler’s oasis sits smack dab in the middle of southeast Idaho. The world famous hot pools in this town draw visitors from all over the U.S. and Canada and it’s easy to understand why. The five pools are filtered to bubbly perfection, each pool is adjusted to a different temperature to suit any soaker, and these hot pools are free of the sulfur smell you might find in other soaking locations. If you’re looking to cool off and let the kids burn a little energy, the Olympic Swimming Complex and Water Park is just three blocks away and comes equipped with diving platforms, speed slides and picnic areas.
4. Shoshone Falls
The next waterfall stop on the list, and by far the largest, is Shoshone Falls. This booming giant boasts epic water flows in the spring and early summer months, with water plummeting 212-feet from the canyon rim. That makes this waterfall taller than Niagara Falls! Shoshone Falls Park offers an epic view of the massive falls, the winding Snake River Canyon and is a great place to picnic or explore canyon trails.
5. Perrine Coulee Falls
You might say Perrine Coulee Falls is a hidden secret in the Snake River Canyon. This unique waterfall can be viewed two ways: from the top of the canyon rim or up close and personal with a short hike.The best part? The hiking trail takes you right behind the falls. Talk about one an epic selfie. Pack some water and a few snacks to spend the day exploring this trail and others in the breathtaking Snake River Canyon.
6. Thousand Springs Scenic Byway
Rural farmland, jagged canyon walls, and wild geological landscapes paint the countryside along the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway. This stretch of road takes you right past Thousand Springs, where waters from the Snake River Plain aquifer burst from the canyon walls down into the river below. Thousand Springs State Park is made up five units spread out over the area with plenty of room to explore trails, waterfalls, and look for local wildlife. Take the kids paddleboarding here, or try your hand at fishing; the cool water temperatures from the springs are perfect for trout.
7. Balanced Rock
The final stop on this show stopping trip is one of Idaho’s most peculiar natural attractions. Weighing in at a whopping 40 tons, standing 48-feet-tall, Balanced Rock is like nothing you’ve ever seen. This unusual spot is the perfect place for a picnic before returning to the road. Thank you, Mother Nature, for putting on a good show.