Idaho is full of magnificent places to explore: stunning mountain trails, winding scenic byways, meandering waterfront paths… and gorgeous nature trails that feature all the best colors of the season. Not to mention the glorious up close interactions with the Gem State’s diverse wildlife — Idaho is the perfect setting for photographers and nature lovers alike! Remarkable in every season, these nature areas will reignite your passion for the beauty of our diverse state, making them perfect for a day trip spent exploring with family or friends.
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. Idler's Rest Nature Preserve
Just six miles northeast of the Moscow. Idler’s Rest Creek flows through a peaceful cedar grove and botanical area nestled at the foot of the Palouse mountains. Multiple trailheads through this serene natural ecosystem create a shaded, magnificent stroll that feels miles away from civilization.
Address: 1187 Idlers Rest Rd. Moscow, ID 83843
2. Silver Creek Preserve
Silver Creek Preserve is so much more than a world class fly-fishing destination. It's also an expansive spring-fed desert oasis that features a self-guided nature trail, hundreds of species of wildlife, and scenic views of the Picabo Hills. The colors of the landscape are especially vibrant in autumn, making this gem one you'll want to return to again and again.
Address: 165 Kilpatrick Bridge Rd, Bellevue, ID 83313
3. Boxcar Bend Preserve
This unique area is a popular walking trail for good reason. In 1952, railroad boxcars were placed in the Big Wood River to prevent erosion, and 70 years later, permanent efforts have revitalized the preserve into a safe and beautiful wildlife haven.
Location: Highway 75. Hailey, ID 83333
4. Flat Ranch Nature Preserve
Perfect for all-seasons wildflower walks, community gatherings, and stunning grasslands photography, this working ranch is just a dozen or so miles from West Yellowstone, so you know the views will be fantastic. Wildlife is particularly abundant as you wander along the river banks.
Address: 4770 US-20, Island Park, ID 83429
5. Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
This scenic wildlife refuge near Bonners Ferry is just 20 miles south of the Idaho-Canada border. Set in some of the most spectacular scenery around the Kootenai River, visitors can explore multiple information centers and miles of trails surrounded by hundreds of species of wildlife in the valley beneath the Selkirk Mountains.
Address: 287 Westside Rd, Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
6. Cougar Bay Nature Preserve
Cougar Bay along Lake Coeur d'Alene attracts waterfowl and wildlife of every kind imaginable, including stunning displays of eagles in winter. A one-mile loop off of Highway 95 is the most popular trail for exploring the beauty and majesty of northern Idaho, but new trails are currently in the works to make this haven even more accessible to nature lovers.
Address: W. Horned Owl Road, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
7. Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center
In addition to a wealth of other outdoor activities, the MK Nature Center just off of the Boise Greenbelt is a special haven for deer, small critters, fish, and nesting birds. It's a special oasis that offers locals the unique opportunity to see Idaho's natural, native wildlife and flora up close and personal from a short, easy trail through the lush landscaping.
Address: 600 S Walnut St, Boise, ID 83712
8. Hyatt Hidden Lake Reserve
Also known as the Hyatt Wetlands, this 44-acre wildlife haven is a must for a relaxing getaway from downtown Boise. Featuring overlook areas, protected habitat islands, open water, educational kiosks, and even art, this nature preserve and its trails acts as a sanctuary and viewing area for hundreds of bird and wildlife species. While this hidden gem in the heart of Idaho's capital is off-limits to bikes and dogs, it makes for a relaxing and all-ages reminder of nature's pristine beauty.
Address: 5301 N Maple Grove Rd, Boise, ID 83704
9, Roosevelt Cedar Grove
14 miles north of Nordman, a spectacular area of old-growth cedar trees towers over the landscape. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, the grove was officially designated as a scenic area in 1943. Many of the trees tower upwards of 150 feet and are hundreds of years old, making this lush area a unique part of Idaho's history. Take a relaxing stroll through the trees and let nature do all the talking. If Nrodman is a bit too far of a drive, Hobo Cedar Grove near Clarkia and Settler's Grove of Ancient Cedars in Murray are marvelous options.
Location: Forest Road 302, Priest Lake.
10. Draper Wood Preserve
Resting quietly along the Big Wood River waterfront, this nature preserve and trail is made up of 84 acres of stunning wetland beauty. Check out the uniquely artistic Bow Bridge across the water or take a stroll down the Croy Creek Boardwalk -- either way, you'll be sure to fall in love with this special south-central Idaho gem.
Location: Access points are on Aspen and Cedar Drives in Hailey.
There are so many ways to explore our beautiful state! What are your favorite nature trails and wildlife areas in Idaho?