For the true Idahoan born and raised in the Gem State, you may think that you’ve already discovered everything there is to explore. Fortunately, from Mother Nature’s raw and breathtaking spectacles to hidden gems that have seemingly endless nooks and crannies, Idaho is full of stunning places to add to your list. Here are 6 places well worth a trip – just don’t be surprised if you want to visit over and over!
1. Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail
At just over 3 miles, this scenic nature and wildlife trail in Coeur d'Alene was part of the BLM's first Idaho recreation site. There are 22 marked interpretive stops along the trail, which also offers breathtaking year-round views of Lake Coeur d'Alene. During the winter, in a stunning display of natural beauty, dozens of majestic bald eagles migrate through the area to feed on spawning kokanee salmon, with Mineral Ridge being the perfect viewing spot.
2. City of Rocks National Reserve
History and beauty collide in this 14,000-acre reserve in Southern Idaho. Here, unique geologic formations create unrivaled opportunities for biking, horseback riding, and camping in addition to over 600 rock climbing routes. The otherworldly landscape is a photographer's dream, while 22 miles of trails are perfect for explorers of every age to enjoy the stunning beauty of this Idaho gem.
3. Roosevelt Cedar Grove
14 miles north of Nordman, a spectacular area of old-growth cedar trees towers over the landscape. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, the grove was officially designated as a scenic area in 1943. Many of the trees rise 150 feet above the ground and are hundreds of years old, making this lush area a unique part of Idaho's history.
4. Silver Creek Preserve
Silver Creek Preserve is much more than a world class fly-fishing destination in central Idaho. It's also an expansive spring-fed desert oasis that features a self-guided nature trail, over 150 species of birds, protected wetlands, and scenic views of the Picabo Hills. Be sure to start your exploration at the Visitor Center to ensure you make the most of your visit!
5. Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
This scenic wildlife refuge near Bonners Ferry is just 20 miles south of the Idaho-Canada border. Set in some of the most spectacular scenery northern Idaho has to offer, visitors can explore multiple information centers and miles of trails surrounded by hundreds of species of wildlife in the valley beneath the Selkirk Mountains. This wildlife haven is the perfect stopping point to enjoy the natural beauty along the Kootenai River.
6. Idaho Botanical Garden
The 50-acre Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise is located next door to the Old Idaho Penitentiary. Originally much smaller, the garden once served as a farm and nursery for the penitentiary. Today it has flourished into an urban oasis of flowers, native plants, and lush landscaping. Here, you can find quiet relaxation from the hustle and bustle of the city, catch a live concert, or explore the wonders of Winter Garden aGlow during the holiday season.
Whether hand-carved by the forces of geology, man-made to preserve our unique past as a state, or running wild and natural, the Gem State has something for everyone. If you live in Idaho and haven’t yet paid a visit to these places, odds are they’ll become your new favorite destinations.