Idaho truly has one of the most unique landscapes you’ll ever find, and there are some incredibly special places and things you can see here that you simply won’t find anywhere else. From mind-blowing man-made structures and beautiful gardens to magnificent natural wonders, here are eight marvels in Idaho that must be seen to be believed:
1. Balanced Rock, Castleford
Carved thousands of years ago by ancient winds, this 40-ton boulder is balancing precariously on a small tableau only 3 feet wide by seemingly impossible physics. A rugged hike will take you to the base of the unique formation where you can also look out across the Salmon Falls Creek Canyon and Magic Valley landscape.
2. Hobo Cedar Grove Botanical Area, Clarkia
Just shy of Moscow and overlooking the rolling hills of the Palouse, Hobo Cedar Grove rises above the surrounding prairie from the summit of Moscow Mountain. The grove is fed by underground springs, allowing the cedars here to grow and thrive at elevations that would be impossible otherwise. In fact, many of these towering trees are hundreds of years old for just this reason. It's a lush oasis like nowhere else in the state!
3. Shoshone Ice Cave, Shoshone
The 1940s saw the death and revival of this natural wonder in Southern Idaho. This ancient lava tube plummets almost 100 feet below the earth's surface and extends about 1000 feet, making it the largest known continuously-frozen ice cave in the world. A solid sheet of ice, preserved by the naturally brisk airflows, covers the floor of the cave and ranges up to 25 feet thick. A lengthy boardwalk traverses the historical cave, making it easily accessible to nearly everyone.
4. Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
This national refuge near the Canadian border in Bonenrs Ferry boasts nearly 3,000 acres of lush wildlife habitat and natural features. Multiple trails meander into Northern Idaho's scenic terrain, while another recently built path leads directly to a spectacular marvel all on its own: Myrtle Falls.
5. Kings Bowl, Arco
To those unfamiliar with Idaho's volcanic geology, Kings Bowl in the Great Rift System of Craters of the Moon might simply look like a deep hole in the ground. This fissure-like gash in the earth's surface was actually the result of a large eruption thousands of years ago which created the Rift system. Kings Bowl is the largest feature in the area, and is lined with unique, rocky strata that give evidence to the event from which it formed.
6. Dworshak Dam, Orofino
Towering above the landscape at over 715 feet high (hundreds of feet above Twin Fall's Perrine Bridge), this 3,200-foot dam soars above and across the Clearwater River. While Dworshak was a feat of engineering in its time, it remains the tallest dam in Idaho as well as the 3rd tallest dam in the country. Fortunately, this man-made marvel also offers guided tours inside and the opportunity to walk across the top for an epic view.
7. Thousand Springs
This state park is an unexpectedly scenic geologic oasis. The water that tumbles over the layered volcanic cliffs that make up most of Southern Idaho originates in under the Snake River Plain hundreds of miles north. The lush grounds are a stunning habitat for fish and raptors, and portions of the Oregon Trail are still visible in the vicinity.
8. Soda Springs Geyser
Man-made, pressurized via naturally occurring carbon dioxide, and regulated to erupt every hour on the clock, this 100-foot geyser was tapped into in the 1930s when locals were searching for a hot water source for a pool. While not as renowned as the eruptions in Yellowstone, this impressive piece of Idaho's landscape makes for a relaxing day trip -- it's also the only captive geyser in the world.
Idaho is simply packed with wonders, marvels, and incredible features! What else would you add to this list?