Summer is a great time to be a “local” tourist in Idaho and enjoy some of the most beautiful places in the lower 48. We’re extremely lucky to call Idaho home because we have more natural attractions, outdoor recreation opportunities, and scenic landscapes than most states have combined. So why not plan a trip this summer and see some of Idaho’s most breathtaking countryside on our famous scenic byways? Here’s a list of five must-see destinations to visit this summer.

1. Mesa Falls

Two amazing waterfalls make up Mesa Falls, and each one is worth the stop. Upper Mesa Falls makes its presence known along the Snake River, standing as tall as a 10-story building, and viewable via an observation deck. Lower Mesa Falls can be found roughly one mile south and is majestic in its own regard. Both waterfalls run over what is left of an ancient volcanic super-eruption. Pretty epic.

2. Lava Hot Springs

A warm summer day at Lava Hot Springs. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism
A warm summer day at Lava Hot Springs. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Geothermal waters pump into Lava’s infamous pools – temperatures range between 102°F -112°F, making Lava Hot Springs the perfect destination for an evening soak. Lava Hot Springs also features an Olympic Swimming Complex with winding slides, indoor and outdoor pools, six-story high-speed slides, and a kids’ cove that is not to be missed. Let’s just say, Lava Hot Springs knows how to have a good time.

3. Hells Canyon Scenic Byway

The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is likely one of the most breathtaking destinations you’ll ever visit. View towering canyon walls as you wind alongside the massive rift that separates the states of Idaho and Oregon. You will be amazed at the size of the massive green and black basalt walls rising above the Snake River below. Get an up close and personal view of wildlife you’ve never seen before, and be sure to stop along the way and visit the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, where guided float and jet boat trips on the Snake River are always in high demand.To find Idaho jet boating outfitters and guides visit the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association here.

4. Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake is the ideal place to visit during the warm summer months. Make memories with your kids that will last a lifetime at this flawless outdoor playground. Redfish Lake sits between the Sawtooth Mountains and the Salmon River and has views that will make you make you feel like you’re vacationing inside of a work of art. The Redfish Lake Lodge is conveniently nestled up against the shore, and next to it, a general store, where you can find maps for your adventures and snacks for the kids.

The lodge also offers rentals including bikes, motorboats, kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, paddleboats, and even pontoon boats. Take a hike, go for a swim, learn how to stand up paddleboard, take the kids out on a paddle boat to explore the shoreline or just lay on the beach and soak up the sun. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

5. Thousand Springs

Kayaking underneath a waterfall.
Kayaking at Thousand Springs.

Thousand Springs may be one of the best-kept secrets in the entire state of Idaho. This massive state park has many places to explore with the kids: Kelton Trail, Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve, Malad Gorge, Billingsley Creek, Crystal Springs, Ritter Island, and Niagara Springs.

A waterfall flowing into a body of water below.
Thousand Springs, Near Twin Falls. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Get an up close view of the springs as thousands of gallons of water gush over the volcanic cliff faces below.This natural phenomenon flows from below the earth’s surface from an enormous underground aquifer, running below the Snake River Plain all the way from the Pioneer Mountains of central Idaho.

For more breathtaking Idaho destinations head over to our Instagram page and don’t forget to share your Idaho adventures with us by using the #VisitIdaho hashtag!

This author is a paid content writer for Idaho Tourism.