Idaho May 09, 2021
The Ultimate Idaho Hidden Gem Road Trip Will Take You To 10 Incredible Little-Known Spots In The State
Whether you’ve lived here for a short time or a long time, Idaho is always full of surprises. You never know what unique destination you’ll stumble across next in the Gem State. We’re sure you’re aware of all the most popular spots in Idaho, so we compiled a road trip that takes you to 10 incredible lesser-known places in the state. From waterfalls and canyons to hot springs and forests, each of these hidden gems in Idaho has something amazing to offer! Taking you across the entire state, this road trip will lead you on an epic adventure you won’t soon forget.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
Spanning over 1,000 miles for a total trip time of 20 hours, this is a lengthy road trip that's best done over several days. Feel free to use the
interactive map to customize the trip to your liking.
1. Upper Mesa Falls
Buckle up! We're starting this trip off with a bang at Upper Mesa Falls near the town of Ashton. When you think of big, breathtaking waterfalls in Idaho, it's Shoshone Falls that typically comes to mind. However, Upper Mesa Falls' cascading curtain of water definitely gives Shoshone a run for its money. As tall as a 10-story building, seeing this waterfall flowing freely is a real treat no matter the season. There's an overlook to see the falls, and if you're up for it, you can take on the trek to Lower Mesa Falls which can be seen along the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. And be sure to pop into the Mesa Falls Nature Center for more information about the area's geology, flora, fauna, and history!
2. Lava Hot Springs
Next up, we're headed to the small town of Lava Hot Springs to treat ourselves to some ahh-mazing hot pool therapy. The Lava Hot Springs hot pools and indoor swimming pool make for a fantastic destination to soak and relax. The hot pools are open 363 days a year and use all-natural underground spring water. Over 2.5 million gallons of water flow through the hot springs daily and are diverted to the Portneuf River. And there's no sulfur odor! Give yourself plenty of time to soak up the relaxing vibes at these incredible outdoor hot pools. Learn more about Lava Hot Springs by checking out our
3. Silver Creek Preserve
After getting our soak on at Lava Hot Springs, we'll head west to the delightfully unknown Silver Creek Preserve in Bellevue. Silver Creek is a stunning destination where nature lovers can immerse themselves in the peace and quiet of Idaho's natural landscape. Covering more than 10,000 acres, the preserve is considered a world-class fly fishing destination. In fact, it was a favored fishing spot among author Ernest Hemingway! It's heaven for anglers, but the abundant wildlife and myriad trails make visiting it a must for any outdoorsman. Learn more about Silver Creek and the magic it has to offer
4. Black Magic Canyon
Next, we're headed north of Shoshone to find Black Magic Canyon, an unusual canyon that's as breathtaking as it is hidden. The result of thousands of years of erosion from the Big Wood River, the canyon is filled with bizarre, twisting lava rock formations. It looks like a scene from another world! Finding the canyon is no easy task (and you'll want to time it correctly when there isn't any water in the canyon), but we think you'll find that it's worth the extra hurdles. For more information on how to reach Black Magic Canyon, see our previous article
5. Box Canyon State Park
Did you know that Idaho is home to the 11th largest spring in North America? It's true! You can see it for yourself when you visit Box Canyon State Park near the town of Wendell. The park is just one unit of the larger Thousand Springs State Park, but it's by far one of the most impressive sights in the area. The spring is visible from above, but you can trek right down to the waters on a hiking trail. The spring's bright blue waters are mesmerizing! They're super cold, too, so feel free to take a dip on a hot summer day. Click
to learn more about Box Canyon and its blue oasis.
6. Three Island Crossing
At this point in the road trip, we think it's time for a history lesson in an incredible setting. Three Island Crossing in Glenns Ferry provides just that. The park is located right along a scenic stretch of the Snake River and it's home to the Oregon Trail History and Education Center. Here, you can learn about the 19th century Oregon Trail pioneers who made the perilous trek through this region all those years ago. Take the self-guided tour to view original wagon ruts from the pioneers' wagons! For more information, see our
7. Pine Flat Hot Spring
After getting your fix of Idaho history, it's time to relax in a beautiful hot spring that's located right along a river. Pine Flat Hot Spring is a hidden gem near Garden Valley. You can access the hot spring from Pine Flats Campground where you'll find a trail that leads straight down to the hot springs. It's just a brief hike before you reach the gorgeous little hot spring pools, complete with a cascading waterfall! Be sure to pack out what you pack in, and leave the hot spring even better than you found it. Get the details about Pine Flat Hot Spring and how to reach it
8. Hobo Cedar Grove Botanical Area.
For the last leg of this epic road trip, we're headed north! Our first stop in North Idaho is the Hobo Cedar Grove Botanical Area. This remote grove of cedar trees is most definitely worth seeking out, as the trees are estimated to be up to 1,000 years old. The 240-acre grove is filled with humongous cedar trees, some of which are about 10 feet in diameter. There aren't many cedar groves this old left in the world, so seeking out this hidden gem is a must. Learn more about the Hobo Cedar Grove and how you can find it
9. Q'emiln Park
The city of Post Falls is next on the itinerary so we can hang out at Q'emiln Park. This big park sits smack dab in the middle of town and is especially renowned for its rock-climbing walls and numerous climbing routes. However, you don't have to be a climber to appreciate this park's serene beauty. Hiking trails, a swimming beach, a boat launch, picnic shelters, and so much more can be found in this lush oasis. Located right along the Spokane River, Q'emiln Park is a great place to get lost for the afternoon. Learn more about what this park has to offer
10. Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
For the very last stop on this statewide road trip, we're going to visit Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Located near Bonners Ferry, this 2,774-acre refuge provides diverse habitats for all types of wildlife like moose, elk, deer, bear, otter, bald eagles, and waterfowl. Exploring it will leave you in awe of its pure, scenic beauty! Take the 4.5-mile auto tour route to see the refuge from your car, or explore one of the four hiking trails to see it on foot. The refuge is home to a waterfall, open-water ponds, marshes, creeks, and much more. Get a full rundown on this natural oasis
Are you ready to take on this hidden gems road trip in Idaho? Let us know what stop interests you most in the comments below!
Address: Upper Mesa Falls, Idaho 83420, USA Address: Lava Hot Springs, ID 83246, USA Address: 165 Kilpatrick Bridge Rd, Bellevue, ID 83313, USA Address: State Hwy 75, Shoshone, ID 83352, USA Address: W Point Rd, Wendell, ID 83355, USA Address: Three Island Crossing State Park, 1083 S Three Island Park Dr, Glenns Ferry, ID 83623, USA Address: Pine Flat Hot Springs, Idaho 83637, USA Address: Hobo Cedar Grove, Idaho, USA Address: 12201 W Parkway Dr, Post Falls, ID 83854, USA Address: Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, 287 West Side Rd, Bonners Ferry, ID 83805, USA