Idaho April 14, 2017
10 Epic Things You Never Thought Of Doing In Idaho, But Should
Idahoans love the great outdoors; it’s in our blood. Our very roots are firmly planted in the incredible landscape that makes up our breathtaking state. But not everyone wants to – or is able to – dig into the adrenaline sports and physical activities that make up the majority of Idaho’s outdoor recreation opportunities. Today, we’ve compiled a list of unexpected, wacky, and wonderful things that just about anyone and everyone can – and should – do at least once.
1. Dig for Idaho's state gem.
While rockhounding is pretty common here in the Gem State (for obvious reasons), finding semi-precious stones is a whole new kind of treasure hunt... but locals have no need to break out the metal detector! But did you know that real Idaho treasure waits in the ground just a short drive away?
Uniquely, Idaho's state gem - the Star Garnet - is found here in abundance. In fact, we're one of only two known places in the world where they can be found! The Emerald Creek Garnet Area sits at the end of a gravel road, 13 miles outside Clarkia, Here, tucked away in the trees, families and individuals can pan for their own gemstones and keep the ones they find! And your odds of finding one are incredibly high. Your only cost? A gem-hunter's permit, making this the perfect family activity!
2. Follow the path of the Bonneville Flood.
The Bonneville Flood was the most intensely powerful water event on this side of the last ice age. Starting in what is now Utah, this catastrophic current - an essential eruption of water that caused whirlpools and damage of biblical proportions - was the precursor of the Great Salt Lake, and carved most of what we see in Southern Idaho and Northern Utah. In fact, the shorelines of this ancient lake can be seen on the higher slopes of the Wasatch Mountains, more than 984 feet above the present level of Salt Lake.
While it's still undetermined what caused the historic Lake Bonenville to suddenly explode into a raging ocean (an estimated 15 million cfs versus the historic record of 72,000 cfs), the Snake River Plain took the brunt of the force, with a visible trail left in the flood's wake. The Snake River Canyon was carved by this ancient flood, along with the smaller Malad, Bruneau, and Black Magic canyons - not to mention the Bruneau Sand Dunes.
Red Rock Pass in Southeast Idaho is considered to be the "gateway" of the flood. From here, the remnants are obvious, even today.
3. Spend the day at a wildlife refuge or nature preserve.
Idaho is full of gorgeous spaces worthy of exploring. If you're not in the mood for a hike, but still want to immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors, experience the magic of wildlife in their natural habitat, and drink in some peace and quiet, a nature trail is the perfect adventure. Idaho has dozens to choose from, but Silver Creek Preserve, the Draper Wood Preserve, and the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge are easy-to-recognize favorites.
More info and directions
4. Visit each of Idaho's historic train depots.
If geologic history isn't your thing, then Idaho has plenty of overlooked state history to share, most of it tangible, beautiful, and totally photogenic. Make it a bucket list goal to visit and photograph every historic train depot in the state. Many of these aging beauties are not only architectural wonders, but often have unique small-town museums tucked away on the inside, featuring the type of first-hand history that gets overlooked by larger museums. Use our
Train-Themed Road Trip
as a starting point!
More info and directions
5. Visit a small-town museum.
Speaking of museums, Idaho's itty-bitty rural towns are full of them! Tucked away in unassuming buildings, both historic and modern, these quirky little gems tell the personal stories and in-depth nitty gritty details that are all-too-often overlooked, but should never be forgotten!
While a Google search won't turn up much, locals are always willing to share directions to the nearest historic center - and you'll never see the same things twice! Idaho has everything from the treasured Boise Basin Museum in Idaho City or the overlooked Black History museum in Boise, to the Kootenai County Jail Museum in Rathdrum or the Clayton Museum in Clayton.
6. Scuba dive.
Did you know that you can scuba dive in nearly every lake or natural spring in Idaho? With proper permission, of course, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Seeing our beautiful bodies from a whole new perspective is truly a spectacular experience, and the opportunity to see fish and plant life up close? Awesome! Depending on where you are, you might even stumble on a shipwreck (or
Idaho has multiple scuba schools and outfitters willing to take on curious explorers, or - if you're already a pro - strap on a suit and take a peek at this portion of "hidden Idaho" for yourself! The pools around Hagerman and our North Idaho lakes are favorites. Be safe!
7. Hike a volcano.
8. Watch the submarine races in North Idaho.
(Share if you get it!)
9. Visit a fish hatchery.
Weird? Maybe. But totally epic. This unique, must-see stop is both educational and fascinating to experience for all ages. At the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery, you can pet 6-foot sturgeon and (if you have a strong stomach) see firsthand where caviar comes from. Of course, there are multiple fish hatcheries to choose from!
Address: 3059 National Fish Hatchery Rd. Hagerman, Idaho
10. Take a day trip to a lavender farm.
Simple adventures are often the best! And what better way to enjoy the gorgeous colors of Idaho and its fruitful harvest than a stroll through a fresh, aromatic lavender farm - or bringing those sweet fragrances indoors? Idaho has a number of these beauties, especially in Southern Idaho, and they often offer handmade gifts and lotions in addition to selling "you-pick" lavender by the bundle.
More info and directions
Bonus: River surfing.
You don't need an ocean to surf here in Idaho! Undeniably dangerous, frigid, and not for novices, this is one activity that is just as terrifying as it looks, and there are two ways to do it. First, head on out to an established, controlled rafting and whitewater park, like Kelly's in Cascade. Here, you'll learn everything you need to know before getting your feet wet in a raging river of death.
Option #2: Slap on an insulated wet suit and go to town on the glorious rolling waves that wet winters bring here in Idaho. This gentleman here is on the Clearwater River near Kooskia!
What do you think? Are there any adventures you’d like to try first??