As a surprisingly active geologic state, Idaho has always been known as a “convergence of wonders.” Here, miles upon miles of sage-covered deserts, lava fields, volcanic formations, whitewater rivers, spectacular canyons, and towering mountain peaks each have their own breathtaking qualities that draw travelers and explorers alike. But the Gem State has much more to offer than just picture-perfect mountain vistas and rushing rivers!
Vast and varied, new landscapes are continuously forming, growing, and changing thanks to the remarkable volcanic and subterranean processes that make Idaho the beautiful and diverse state that it is. But just like the original Seven Wonders of the World, there are seven particular Idaho landmarks that stand out above the rest. Not only are these “7 Wonders of Idaho” remarkable in the historical sense, they’re also majestic, record-breaking, and otherwise globally significant in every possible way – as well as the perfect starting points for exploring the incredible landscape of Idaho.
1. The Snake River
Cutting through the high desert in a scenic maze of falls, rapids, and native vegetation, the mighty, 1,078-mile Snake River forms the lifeblood and landscape of Southern Idaho. It's also a powerful force to be reckoned with, having carved the dizzying heights of Hells Canyon - the deepest gorge in North America - as well as numerous other canyons throughout the lower portion of the state. While the Snake River is unique as one of the few waterways in the entire country that spans from border to border of its primary state, locals love this commanding river for its rafting, fishing, and water recreation opportunities.
2. The Great Rift
Idaho's Great Rift is a line of volcanic cones and lava vents that run through the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This breathtaking feature is considered to be the largest, deepest, and youngest volcanic rift system in the continental United States, as well as one of only two such landmarks in the world. Two thousand years ago this unique crater system was spewing lava across the Snake River Plain. Today, the 53-mile Great Rift houses some of the most unusual geologic features in Southern Idaho and remains the crowning jewel of the lava playground that surrounds it.
3. Sawtooth Mountains
The Rockies' Sawtooth mountain range in Central Idaho forms a spectacular skyline that boasts 57 breathtaking peaks over 10,000 feet high. Time has yet to whittle down the crisp edges of this jagged mountain range, while hundreds of glacial lakes nestled into its crags are alpine reminders of this not-so-distant geologic past. Adventurers will find endless hiking, camping, and rock climbing opportunities around every corner, as well as pristine solitude in the heart of the Idaho wilderness.
4. St. Anthony Sand Dunes
With over 10,600 acres of pristine, white sand tossed by the wind into natural towering eddies, bowls, and wavelike mountains, St. Anthony's sand dunes are the ultimate sandbox gone rogue. They range from 50 to 500 feet high, and offer one of the largest riding dune expanses in the country.
5. Island Park Caldera
Uniquely created by two volcanic craters nestled inside one another, the collapsed elliptical formation of the Island Park and Henry's Fork calderas is one of the largest in the world. The craters were formed by the incredible ancient forces of the Yellowstone volcanic system, and today they make up the scenic, waterfront town of Island Park, just shy of the Wyoming border.
6. Big Southern Butte
Southern Butte, near Craters of the Moon, is by far one of the largest volcanic "domes" in the world - and it's located right in the heart of Idaho, just northwest of Blackfoot. Rising close to 2,500 feet out of the desert floor, this scenic and unexpected formation offers hiking and ATV trails, as well as panoramic views from the top.
7. Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon, America's deepest river gorge, slices through the earth along the border of Idaho and Oregon and features a plunging depth of over 7,900 feet in some places. At the base of the rugged canyon courses the powerful Snake River, while the rim showcases the stunning Seven Devils Mountains and a diverse landscape of cactus, desert wildflowers, picturesque wildlife, and magnificent vista views. Visitors will also find a lush national recreation area, a relaxing scenic byway, and various historical sites, making Hells Canyon perfect for adventurers who crave a blend of dramatic beauty and remote wilderness.
There’s no need to leave the country to experience the seven wonders of the world – they’re right here in Idaho!