The Western United States is one of the most diverse and varied landscapes in the world. More than just rolling hills and pine trees, you’ll find incredible natural treasures nearly everywhere you look. In particular, the state of Idaho is home to some of the nation’s, and the world’s, most spectacular features. Killgore Adventures is lucky enough to call this great place home, and when we’re not leading our own river adventures, we like to adventure across the rest of the state. Planning a trip to Idaho soon? Make sure these great places and spaces make it on your itinerary.
The Bruneau State Park Sand Dunes
Were you a big fan of the sandbox as a kid? Or have a kid who always seems to have sand in their shoes? Then the incredible sand dunes at Bruneau State Park are for you! Rising nearly 500 feet over the desert floor around it, the dunes are a truly impressive sight. There are plenty of great ways to play at the dune. Take a hike up to the top or rent a sandboard and zip down the sides. You can travel around the dune fields on horseback and even bring your fishing pole along to go after the bluegill that live in the lakes that dot the dunes. Nearby is the Bruneau Dune Observatory, which grants you a chance to see the stars in the night sky up close through the powerful telescopes.
The Sawtooth Mountains
For those looking for an elevated experience in Idaho, you’d be hard-pressed to find something more amazing than the Sawtooth mountains. This sprawling mountain range features more than 50 peaks that tower more than 10,000 feet. Hidden within the peaks are innumerable alpine likes, an incredible array of wildlife, and the source of Idaho’s greatest rivers, like the Boise, Payette, and of course, the Salmon River. This remote landscape is ideal for hikers and backpackers, as you’re likely to encounter more wildlife than people.
Black Magic Canyon
Tucked away in Southern Idaho lies the more secretive brother to Hells Canyon. Colloquially known as “Black Magic Canyon,” this three-mile-long canyon network has a truly striking appearance. Carved into the earth by the ancient forces of lava and floods, this canyon is formed from black basalt. Within the canyon is a natural sculpture garden, where twisting rocks and winding canyon walls form almost otherworldly shapes. But this mystical canyon is only accessible for a few months of the year. The Big Wood River is diverted out of the canyon during the summer, allowing explorers to navigate their way through Black Magic Canyon.
There’s no denying the attraction of a waterfall. There’s something about them that captures our attention and our imagination. So you’ll be thrilled that you can see not one, but two, incredible waterfalls in Idaho when you visit Mesa Falls. Consisting of the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, these waterfalls are nearly 10 stories high. The water cascades down a rock face that was formed by ancient volcanoes from thousands of years ago. The two falls are connected by a short drive, and the area is a great place to take a short hike. You can see both falls from the walking path, and then enjoy the exhibits and activities at the Mesa Falls Visitor Center.
Craters of the Moon
If you’ve always wanted to explore the moon, this might be as close as you get. Extending more than 618 square miles, this solidified volcanic sea range is just one of two such geological features in the world. While it was formed in ancient oceans, you won’t find a drop of water here. The craters were caused by eruptions from the Great Rift, and are slowly shifting and changing over time. If you’re looking to visit a place that’s truly alien, Craters of the Moon is the place to be.
We’d be shorting ourselves and this amazing natural feature if we didn’t mention Hells Canyon. As America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon swallows up portions of the Snake River and is a landscape like none other. Towering canyon walls are the backdrop for the rushing waters below, making the canyon uniquely suited for a number of great outdoor activities. If you’re searching for an Idaho river adventure, this is the place for it!