Idaho’s vibrant past has no shortage of historic places – schools, prisons, hospitals, churches, and even entire towns. But many of these spots also fell victim to time, financial instability, and Mother Nature, and now stand empty. While many reminders of our beloved Idaho’s recent and distant past offer tours to curious visitors, others have been turned into museums. But even if only viewed from the outside, these urban-style ruins are still spectacular in their decay.  We know you’ll love taking a closer look at the following road trip itinerary to some of the most abandoned places in Idaho — if you dare!

1. Old Idaho State Penitentiary

The first stop on our road trip to Idaho’s abandoned places is the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, also known as the Old Pen. Built by the inmates who were housed within its sandstone cells, the Old Pen has seen thousands of prisoners and thousands more curious visitors pass through its grounds. At night, the grounds are rumored to come alive with paranormal activity. Whether by a day spent exploring the peeling paint, crumbling walls, and rusted prison chambers or a spooky evening at one of the prison’s regular events, this is a historic tour that you won’t soon forget.

2. Wild Waters

Editor’s note: This abandoned water park has been demolished.

What was once a vibrant, thrilling family destination in Northern Idaho came to an abrupt end less than a decade ago as competition took over. Wild Waters in Coeur d’Alene was originally the Northwest’s largest water park – a behemoth attraction that dominated the summer market for years. In 2010, the park didn’t reopen at all, and very little remains of its former glory. Brackish water, rusting gates, and fading signs all sit corroding in Idaho’s turbulent weather, waiting for someone to restore or demolish them.

3. Albion State Normal School

The Albion State Normal School was once a vibrant educational institution for teachers that now stands abandoned, falling victim to time. Empty hallways filled with debris shattered windows, and eerie auditoriums still lined with the decrepit remains of wooden seats all pulse with an inexplicable presence — whether paranormal or simply teeming with the memories of the past, there are multiple buildings on campus that all echo with unearthly sensations.

4. American Falls Old Townsite

Now underwater, the town of American Falls was once a thriving, active hub located on the west bank of the Snake River, but during what was easily the largest government relocation of its time, the town was moved in its entirety to avoid flooding by the nearby dam. The known history of American Falls is just as fascinating as what remains shrouded by the passage of time.

5. Silver City

A mere century ago, the lure of gold, precious ore, and the hope of a new life brought thousands of people to the Gem State, but after the dust had settled, Idaho’s mining towns went from thriving communities to hollow remnants. Silver City is an often overlooked but treasured part of Idaho’s “Wild West” that lies in beautiful, aging disrepair in Southwest Idaho, somewhat between Jordan Valley, Oregon and Bruneau. Formerly a busy mining hub, the silver crash at the turn of the 20th century sent this bustling city into a rapid downward spiral, but that doesn’t keep the town from trying to rebuild.

6. Hecla Mill And Mine

Burke is one of Northern Idaho’s ghost towns that has fallen into obscurity in favor of the more well-known towns near Boise. But the old Hecla mine and mill here is absolutely fascinating. While operations in Burke shut down decades prior, a temporary reopening of the Star Mine in the 90s brought a resurgence of local memories. The town sits along a canyon and is particularly remembered for its iconic hotel which was built above the railroad to save space.

7. Pioneer/Boothill Cemetery

With over 3,000 graves housed here, and very few resting here who died of natural causes, it’s safe to say that Pioneer/Boot Hill is rife with legends and ghost stories. Many of those buried in Idaho City are unidentified – a result of the constant turnover of the mining town in its prime. Today, only 300 or so inscriptions are still readable.

8. Roseberry

This unique small town just outside of the Donnelly-Cascade-McCall area is a ghost town at its core but thrives as a historic reminder of Idaho’s western days. Barn weddings, reenactments, and filmings are welcome here with permission, but the real draw is that one can simply walk through town (it’s only a few blocks!) and see the remarkable historic textures and features of centuries long ago.

Idaho has some incredible abandoned places that still stand today as a reminder of our history, and as you can see from our map, this road trip is nowhere near complete. What other special abandoned buildings and tunnels are hidden in Idaho?

Please keep in mind that not all of these buildings are open to the public at all hours. Be respectful of local rules and ordinances and adventure at your own risk!

If you were to do a search for “abandoned places near me” or “abandoned places in Idaho,” one of these abandoned buildings in Idaho would most certainly pop up at the top of the list!

Have you ever been to this/to any of these exciting creepy abandoned places? If so, which ones made the most impression on you? Do you know of any other abandoned places we should add to our list? We’d love to read about your experience in the comments section below!

If you like road trips, be sure to read Enjoy A Scenic Drive Along Idaho’s 7 Most Beautiful Backroads.

For those who would like to explore hikes around any of these abandoned places, you can find some great trails by going to the AllTrails website.

Still in the mood for more Idaho adventures? Then take a look at this video:

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More to Explore

More Adventures in Idaho

Where can we find ghost towns in Idaho?

  • Silver City is a former mining town and today home to the Idaho Hotel, one of the most haunted hotels in the state!
  • Dewey is also a former mining town and named after Colonel Dewey who bought the town's mine.
  • Wickahoney used to be an important stagecoach shop as mail traveled through the state back in the day.

Read on to learn more about some of the many other interesting ghost towns in Idaho.

Where can we find historic homes in Idaho?

  • Standrod Mansion in Pocatello is one of a few homes in Idaho built in a castle-like style that fashions a 16th-century French chateau.
  • The Bown House in Boise is an Italianate-style two-level home built in 1879 out of sandstone.
  • The Clark House in Hayden Lake was once one of the grandest homes in the state with a tennis court, a private zoo, riding stables, greenhouses, a putting green, and more.

Read on to learn more about some of the many beautiful historic homes in Idaho.

Where can we find historic attractions in Idaho?

  • The EBR-1 Museum in Arco is the site of the former Experimental Breeder Reactor from which its nuclear power was used to light the town and was the first to do so in the U.S.
  • The Idaho Veterans Cemetery in Boise is a beautiful yet somber 76.5-acre cemetery where many of the state’s service women and men were laid to rest.
  • The Nampa Train Depot in Nampa was built in 1903 and was formerly a stop on the historic Oregon Short Line railroad.

Read on to learn more about some of the many other fascinating historic attractions in Idaho.

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