Idaho February 19, 2017
8 Stunning Places In Idaho You Won’t Mind Getting Lost In
Sometimes getting lost is the best way to discover the hidden beauty of a place is to find yourself unexpectedly exploring the parts of it that you never knew existed.
Idaho is state of truly remarkable diversity and beauty, and simply brimming with landscapes waiting to take your breath away, bring out your inner photographer, or simply restore your soul with their incredible scenery. These places in Idaho – both urban and remote – have a little something extra when it comes to natural beauty and staving off the cares of day-to-day life. But while we hope you never truly get lost in your explorations, truth be told, there are worse places for it to happen:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Centennial Trail
Officially designated in 1990, this 900-mile trail winds through the most scenic portions of Idaho’s back country and cherished landscapes, from high desert canyonlands in Southern Idaho to wet mountain forests in North Idaho. While walking the full state trail would take you a few weeks, exploring portions of the trail offers glimpses into Idaho's unique grandeur and diversity as seen via hiking, biking, and horseback riding only.
For wilderness fans, the trail runs through rugged Sawtooth and Bitterroot country, as well as through the roadless Frank Church. For novices, alternate routes bypass Idaho's dense wilderness in favor of creekside trails and urban greenbelts. But whichever path you choose, you'll be rewarded with the opportunity to experience the true majesty of Idaho up close!
More info and directions
2. Owyhee Canyonlands
Hiking the canyon rims of the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness in Southwest Idaho, the views are nearly endless. The muted tones of sagebrush, junipers, and bunchgrass stretch on into the horizon, and the only sounds are natural ones: wind rustling grasses and brush, the distant calls of desert wildlife. Here, hikers and campers are no less than 50 miles from the nearest paved road.
The 91-mile Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway is the primary access to central Owyhee County, and from there, rougher primitive roads access more remote areas, including four Wilderness areas and three Wild and Scenic Rivers. Canyons and rock formations galore dot this remote portion of Idaho, offering plenty of opportunities to explore, hike, camp, and get lost in the unique beauty of Idaho's most isolated region - indeed, the most remote spot in the lower 48.
More info and directions
3. Nez Perce National Historical Park
Covering portions of four different states, and designed to tell from a first-hand perspective the entirety the 1877 Nez Perce War, this park is an expansive, humbling, and beautiful one that is quite the endeavor to explore from start to finish. 38 landmark sites, interpretive signage, and visits to historic battlegrounds are included in the route, and you'll find it easy to get lost in the turbulent history that surrounds our corner of the Northwest.
The name French white settlers gave them was a mistake. The Nez Perce - a name which loosely translates to "pierced noses" - never actually practiced nose piercing. Starting at the visitor center and museum just north of Lapwai at the Spalding Mission, you can get an overview of the tribe's history and begin to plan your route as well as learn about special events an classes taking place.
More info and directions
4. City of Rocks
Adjacent to Castle Rocks State Park and near Almo, this sweeping 14,500-acre reserve is a truly fascinating geologic wonderland. With towering granite formations as tall as 600 feet, 22 miles of hiking trails, and endless opportunities to scramble, climb, and drink in the sights, this is one unexpectedly beautiful place that you could spend hours exploring.
More info and directions
5. Frank Church Wilderness
The 2nd-largest chunk of roadless, protected wildernes in the continental US, the United States Congress designated the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in 1980, and it now encompasses nearly 2.5 million acres. The "River of No Return" in this pristine wilderness in central Idaho refers to the Salmon River, a famous whitewater rafting destination known for its powerful current.
1.5 million acres here don't have any trails at all. The Salmon River Mountains, located south of the Main Salmon and west of the Middle Fork, are the most massive range, and dominate the Wilderness. North of the Main Salmon River are the Clearwater Mountains, east of the Middle Fork are the Bighorn Crags, both ranged steep and nearly impassable, making them the perfect habitat for threatened species like gray wolves, mountain lions and wolverines. Of course, if you want more solitude, "The Frank" is contiguous with another million acres of roadless Forest Service land: the 1.3-million acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which is separated by only a single dirt road. Basically, there are plenty of ways to get lost in nature, but in the best way possible!
6. Craters of the Moon National Monument
Hauntingly beautiful, this unearthly volcanic wonderland is absolutely mesmerizing in every season. From hiking the cones of Devil's Orchard and exploring the historic underground caves and lava tubes, to snowshoeing across the barren lava fields and photographing the Great Rift, there's so much more here than meets the eye. And with over 618 square miles of rocky, crater-filled landscapes to explore, a few trips here will be needed to see the full beauty.
7. Draper Wood River Preserve
84 beautifully shaded acres along the Big Wood River form the Draper Wood Preserve - the heart of the Hailey Greenway. Since 2007, land donations have expanded the wetland into its current beauty, and the Wood River Land Trust continues to restore and expand the landscape into a pristine, enjoyable nature haven for the entire community. A boardwalk and the beautifully unique Bow Bridge over the river add charm and the perfect setting to get lost in the quiet scenery.
8. Lost River Valley
What better place to get lost than in Idaho's Lost River Valley? The home of our state's tallest mountain (Borah), the Big Lost River, and the Little Lost River. In fact, the Lost River Range has the grand distinction of being Idaho's highest mountain range. It boasts seven of the nine coveted "Twelvers" and stretches from the Snake River Plain in the south to Challis, for a distance of around 80 miles.
Truly, this region of Idaho is "lost" in many ways--despite its rugged, and plentiful recreation opportunities, the Lost River Valley is often overlooked in favor of more aesthetic ranges. But the choices of what trails to navigate in the Lost River Valley are quite endless for those who choose to let themselves get lost in its depths.
Ready to get lost in Idaho’s beauty?