With more scenic waterway miles than any other state in the country, Idaho has no shortage of quaint, rural communities dotting its lush riverbanks. While some of Idaho’s cities, like Twin Falls, Salmon, and Boise, get more attention than others because of their beautiful waterfront ways of life, there are dozens of great communities throughout the state that boast their own fabulous views and cozy lifestyles.
In no particular order, here are seven of our favorite under-appreciated river towns.
1. Clark Fork
Situated on the banks of the historic Clark Fork River, this river town's origins date back to the late 1800s when Lewis and Clark are thought to have encountered the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness Area. It is also the first town you will see upon entering Idaho from Montana on Highway 200, and today is still a major source of commerce and recreation for Northern Idaho.
2. St. Maries
This quiet town is situated in a beautiful, timbered valley which includes two major rivers (the St. Joe and the St. Maries) and a multitude of lakes. It is also home to Idaho's "largest topless bar," which - spoiler alert - doesn't mean what you think it does.
3. White Bird
Here in North-Central Idaho, where the Salmon River leads you into the Nez Perce National Forest, the Old White Bird Grade Road takes visitors into the heart of the 1877 White Bird Battlefield. It is also the first North-South highway in Idaho due to our state's uniquely impenetrable landscape.
4. Hill City
This itty-bitty community sits on the Big Wood River, and is home to a population of only 26. Like much of Camas County, it is home to an abundance of marshy wildflowers, like Penstemons.
Seemingly surrounded by some of Idaho's best landscapes, there's a reason why Challis is labeled a "base camp" for exploration. The North Fork of the Salmon River, the White Cloud Mountains, the Lost River Range, and even Idaho's highest peak, Mt. Borah, are all just a stone's throw from downtown.
Originally called "Stuart," this river town has come a long ways since being surveyed in 1897. Kooskia lies in two areas along the South Fork and the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River, separated by a "hogback," an extension of Mount Stuart, for which the city was originally named.
7. Swan Valley
With the Big Hole Range to the north, the Caribou Mountains to the south and the Palisades Range to the east, Swan Valley's setting on the Snake River is ideal for fly fishing, solitude, and off-roading.