Idaho is surrounded by Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. I’ve heard of a lot of people visiting those states but far fewer taking the time to visit the Gem State. Those folks that overlook this great western state are missing out, though.
The state of Idaho offers some of the best destinations in the west. The state parks alone offer tons of beautiful land to see and plenty for a camper to do, from kayaking or canoeing some beautiful lakes and rivers to hiking and mountain biking. Here are five state parks in Idaho that you shouldn’t pass up.
1. Harriman State Park
The first state park we’ll cover is Harriman State Park. Located in the eastern portion of the state, the state park sits next to Henrys Fork, a tributary of the Snake River and offers some beautiful wetland for you to experience. There are over 11,000 acres to explore, and you can partake in fishing, horseback riding, hiking and even take a historic railroad tour if you want.
Yellowstone National Park is not too far away either. It’s a couple hour’s drive to the heart of Yellowstone in Wyoming, so you could even try to hit this amazing state park your way to the much larger national park if you wanted to.
2. Hell’s Gate State Park
Hell’s Gate State Park offers a beautiful, unique natural experience in each of its 960 acres. Located right along the banks of the Snake River, Hell’s Gate State Park provides a lush, wild area full of opportunities for exploring and activities. You can fish, hike, bike, partake in archery, go swimming, boating, horseback riding and more.
There are various opportunities for river and park tours and the scenery is simply breathtaking. Make sure to have your camera with you or at the very least your smartphone so you can capture the beautiful nature and wildlife found along the many hiking trails.
3. Ponderosa State Park
Need a little lake fun in your life? Check out Ponderosa State Park, which is located on the 1,000-acre peninsula that stretches out into Payette Lake. The state park offers hiking and biking trails, guided tours, and beautiful views, including the famous Osprey Point that provides an amazing view of the lake.
The park gets its name from the 150-foot-tall ponderosa pine trees that you’ll find all over the land here. They have a distinctive look. These trees can be found in other parts of the state and even outside of Idaho, but they’re plentiful here and part of what makes Ponderosa State Park so beautiful.
4. Bruneau Dunes State Park
If a lush river paradise isn’t your idea of a fun time, then maybe you’d like the Bruneau Dunes State Park a little better. The dunes found in this state park are a unique geologic feature for this area of the state. The more than 4,800 acres of land inside the park boundaries also offers meadows, a lake, and a marsh.
Sandboarding is a popular activity at this state park, though you can do other activities common in state parks like hiking, swimming, fishing, birdwatching, and horseback riding. The Bruneau Dunes State Park really has something to offer just about everyone, so if you’re headed to the southwestern portion of the state, then you should consider stopping here.
5. Farragut State Park
The last park I’ll discuss on this list is Farragut State Park, and it’s one of the best. Situated right at the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille, the park offers spectacular views of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, boating, and swimming are common activities here, but there’s also the opportunity to practice archery, shooting, horseback riding, disc golf, orienteering, and much more.
If you want to try something else, you can always hit up the Museum at the Brig inside the park, which will teach you all about the Farragut Naval Training Station that was operating during WWII. There are also ATV trails close to the park if you’d like a fun day of motorsports.
No matter what state park you visit or where you go in Idaho, you’re bound to find a location that will wow you. These are only a few of the fantastic state parks and wildlife areas worth visiting. The state has so much to offer.
Know of any parks you think need to be included? Leave a comment below!