Boise is a popular city with the most people in all of Idaho because of the environment and amazing attractions and unique places available for both tourists and residents. Boise is a part of Treasure Valley, the Boise-Nampa metropolitan area that also includes Meridian.
There are several exciting day trips you can take as well to make the most out of your vacation or travels.
1. Bogus Basin
Visitors to Bogus Basin will enjoy outdoor mountain recreation such as mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, disc golf, skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, the only mountain roller coaster in Idaho, and more. There are also a lot of special activities for children, such as wall climbing, trampolines, and Shafer Butte Mining Company. Season passes and unlimited day passes are available. Bogus Basin is located less than 10 minutes outsides of Boise, which makes it easy to get there and stay all day.
2600 N Bogus Basin Road, Boise, Idaho, 83702, Phone: 208-332-51000
2. Twin Falls
Twin Falls Idaho is one of the best places to visit for easy access to outdoor recreation in the state and is one of the largest cities in South Central Idaho. Twin Falls serves as the gate to the Snake River Canyon where visitors can explore three waterfalls, the Perrine Bridge that spans the canyon 500 feet high and offers BASE jumping all year around. Twin Falls also offers convenient access to Sawtooth National Forest, Sun Valley, Redfish Lake, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Visitors also love the vibrant downtown area for shopping and dining and Centennial Waterfront Park.
Discover beautiful parks nearby.
3. Bruneau Dunes State Park
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Bruneau Dunes State Park is an exciting outdoor recreation area less than 70 miles from Boise with sand dunes spanning 4,800 acres. Bruneau Dunes features the tallest structured sand dune on the North American Continent with a peak rising 470 feet high. Visitors can explore by hiking or renting sand boards, similar to surfboards, and off-road vehicles. There are also a few lakes with great fishing and guided horseback riding through the dunes. Make sure to stick around to dark and visit the observatory where telescopes let you see the night sky up close. Cabin rental and campsites are also available.
27608 Sand Dunes Road, Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647, Phone: 208-366-7919
© City of Caldwell
Caldwell, Idaho is just 30-minute drive West of Boise and is a thriving town in the Boise Metropolitan area. Caldwell is also home to two colleges and was a stop on the Oregon Trail where Pioneers crossed the Boise River near Silver Bridge on Plymouth Street. Caldwell is home to many annual festivals including the Winter Wonderland Festival and Indian Creek Festival. The town also has a vibrant downtown area and is known for its nearby wineries and immaculate golf courses. Families taking a day trip from Boise to Caldwell can visit Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History, Whittenberger Planetarium, Babby Farms, Our Memories Museum, or the Glen L. and Ruth Evans Gem and Mineral Collection.
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5. City of Rocks
The City of Rocks in Southern Idaho is just two and a half hours from Boise and is one of the best places to enjoy backcountry adventuring. City of Rocks is a 14,407-acre National Reserve in the southern part of the Albion Mountains where rock climbing, camping, hiking, and hunter are popular outdoor activities. A visitor center for City of Rocks and the nearby Castle Rocks State Park is located in the Almo historic village and is open year-round. Almo was established as part of the old west in 1878 and remains a town of cattle ranchers with only basic services available.
City of Rocks Reserve, P.O Box 169 Almo, ID, 83312, Phone: 208-824-5901
6. Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a volcanic wonderland featuring a visitor’s center where guests will find educational exhibits, films, and onsite staff available for questions. Guided hikes are available during summer months that range from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours long with varying difficulty. You can also drive along the 7-mile scenic loop or enjoy a number of other special programs such as patio talks, and evening programs at the amphitheater. Children can get involved in the junior ranger program or participate in other educational programs, including the annual MOONFEST: Moon Landing Celebration that happens in July. Craters of the Moon is just under three hours away from Boise.
P.O. Box 29, Arco, ID, 83213, Phone: 208-527-1300
Eagle Idaho sits amongst ethereal foothills on the Boise River on the western side of Boise, Idaho. Eagle is an upscale, sophisticated neighborhood featuring mid to high-end homes, fine dining restaurants, shopping and is just 15 minutes from downtown Boise. Visitors to Eagle can enjoy local sporting events and outdoor recreation including hiking and fishing in the foothills, golfing, BMX dirt biking, and well-maintained parks. Merrill Park features a summer splash park, volleyball, natural wetlands and access to the river. There is also a beautiful pedestrian bridge that connects many downtown businesses for easy and convenient travel. The Eagle Historical Museum and the Eagle Performing Arts Center are also found downtown.
8. Garden Valley
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Garden Valley is just one-hour North of Boise off Idaho State Highway 17. The small, unincorporated village is called “Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway” because of its excellent wildlife viewing and breathtaking mountain scenery and hot springs. Garden Valley is the perfect day trip from Boise for people who are interested in white water rafting, kayaking, hiking, and camping. Animals that frequent the valley include eagles, wolves, bears, cougars, turkey, elk, and ospreys. Visitors can also enjoy the Terrace Lakes Golf Course and Resort or take part in the annual Silver Creek Plunge in the Boise National Forest in Peace Valley. Guests who visit Garden Valley during winter have the opportunity for old fashioned sleigh rides through the valley.
9. Hagerman Fossil Beds
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Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is an hour and an hour southeast of Boise and home to the Hagerman Horse fossil. The Hagerman Horse is a horse that evolved in North America and featured only one toe. The National Monument also features fossils from a saber-tooth cat, bear, camel, ground sloth, mastodon, giant otter, rodents, swans and other birds, frogs, an otter estimated to be nearly 4 million years old, and many others. The Hagerman Fossil Beds is the richest deposit of fossils in the world of the late Pliocene epoch. Most of the fossils are pre-Ice Age, and the Oregon Trail also crosses the southern tip of the fossil beds.
PO Box 570, Hagerman, Idaho, 83332, Phone: 208-933-4105
© City of Hailey
Hailey is a small town found in the Wood River Valley area of Sun Valley and the Central Idaho Rocky Mountains. Hailey sits at the edge of the Challis National Forest which provides easy access for outdoor adventure lovers looking for a day trip from Boise. The valley boasts 250 days of sunshine a year and offers world-class skiing in the mountains, whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking across the Rocky Mountains, fishing, golfing and more. Visitors to Sun Valley and Hailey can also stop by America’s first ever Dark Sky Reserve and learn about the connections Ernest Hemingway had to the valley.
781 South Main Street, Hailey, ID, 83333, Phone: 208-788-3484
11. Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
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The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway runs through the eastern rift that creates the boundary between Idaho and Oregon and offers amazing views of the canyon. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area features basalt cliffs that are a striking black and green color and sandy beaches along the Snake River. Visitors will have the opportunity to see Hells Canyon Dam along the Byway and can even stop and take a guided float trip or boat along the Snake River below. Hells Canyon Road is a steep, narrow road with a lot of curves and only two lanes. Drivers should be cautious and make sure to fill up on gas and emergency supplies before traveling this road.
12. Idaho City
© Idaho City Chamber
Idaho City was one of the largest cities during the historic gold rush in the Pacific Northwest and is now a quaint, historic, hidden gem city that acts as the Sawtooth Mountains gateway. Idaho City features historic monuments and building related to the logging and mining industry, preserved wooden sidewalks, and plenty of antique stores to explore. There is a still an operational Saloon that serves sarsaparilla and the Boise Basin Museum where visitors can learn the exciting full history of Idaho City. Idaho City is a great day trip less than an hour outside of Boise and hosts many different seasonal festivals throughout the year.
13. Idaho Wine Country
Idaho has some of the largest vineyards in the Pacific Northwest with elevations up to 3,000 feet and soils that are made from volcanic ash which is ideal for grape growing. Idaho is known for producing wine grapes that have high acidity and concentrated flavors, especially in the Snake River Valley, which is where many local wineries source their grapes. There are currently more than 50 wineries in Idaho, and most of them are located in the Snake River Valley and Eagle Foothills. A few wineries are located in the Lewis-Clark Valley in the northern part of the state and are few are in Sun Valley. There are several tour companies that visitors can book for a full day trip from Boise tour of Idaho Wine Country.
McCall Idaho is the perfect escape from city life and located just two hours North of the Boise Metropolitan area on Payette Lake surrounded by lush forests. The scenic resort town of McCall is ten square miles and is a destination for thrill seekers and outdoor adventure lovers, and well as families who just want to relax within the peacefulness of the forested mountains. McCall is perfect for Winter getaways and boasts the highest snowfall in the state and dozens of opportunities for snowboarding, snowmobiling, skiing, and more. The Annual Winter Festival in McCall draws more than 60,000 visitors to the mountains annually.
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Meridian Idaho is part of the Boise Metropolitan Area and features family-friendly entertainment and lodgings, boutique shopping at The Village and lots of local dining opportunities. Walking tours of the downtown areas where you can taste your way through some of the best restaurants in the Boise area are available for all ages. Families taking a day trip from Boise to Meridian can also enjoy Wahooz Family Fun Zone mini golf, Roaring Springs Waterpark, Meridian Speedway, or one of the numerous city parks. Super adventurous visitors can try out a hot air balloon ride at nearby Lake Harbor.
16. Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey
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Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area features the most nesting birds of prey anywhere in North America with more than 800 pairs of hawks, eagles, falcons, ospreys, and owls, among other birds and wildlife. There are few public facilities in the undisturbed National Conservation Area where cliffs are 700 feet high, and the Snake River meanders below. The birds are not on display, however, and your best chance of seeing them is to bring binoculars, visit early in the morning or in the evenings, keep your eyes up, and don’t get too close. Visit the Word Center for Birds of Prey in Treasure Valley to see raptors on display.
3948 Development Ave. Boise, ID 83705 Phone: 208-384-3300
17. Mountain Home
Mountain Home is a rural town with just 15,000 residents where there is a great mix of big-city amenities and small-town traditions. Many special events take place in Mountain Home including the Air Force Appreciation Day which features a massive parade, The Mountain Home Country Music Festival, and the Endless Summer Festival of Beer. Mountain Home also has access to outdoor recreational opportunities such as off-roading in the sand dunes or mountain biking and hiking in the mountains or fishing and boating in the lakes. The Desert Mountain Visitors Center offers information about events and attractions in Mountain Home and also has a gift shop.
2900 American Legion Boulevard, Mountain Home, Idaho, Phone: 208-587-4464
© City of Nampa, Idaho - Municipal Government
Nampa is a small town just a half hour outside of Boise in the middle of Wine Country and full of local restaurants that focus on delicious local flavors. The Nampa Farmers Market features booths with local goodies from the shops downtown. There is also no shortage of concerts, rodeos, golf courses, and lakes where visitors can swim, boat or fish. Plenty of hotels, Inns, and motels are located in Nampa. Visitors can also stay at the Hostel Boise or one of the beds and breakfasts, or the RV park. Other attractions to consider on your day trip to Nampa include the Warhawk Air Museum, and Rusty Retro Antiques & Oddities.
19. Sawtooth National Forest
The Sawtooth National Forest is a producing, or working, forest. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area comprises 756,000 acres of the forest and features more than 700 miles of hiking trails, alpine lakes at elevations more than 300 feet high and 40 mountain peaks that stand more than 10,000 feet high. Visitors can also enjoy observation areas for wildlife spotting, kayaking, boating, swimming, mountain biking, canoeing, rafting, photography, and other outdoor recreation. During winter months Sawtooth National Forest also has skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. There are dozens of campgrounds within the National Forest as well as cabins for rent and primitive camping.
5 North Fork Canyon Road, Ketchum, ID, 83340, Phone: 208-727-5000
20. Silver City Idaho
Silver City is an old mining town of the old west that did not become commercialized, burn down, or modernize. Visitors to Silver City get to travel back in time where you can horseback ride through the Owyhee Mountains and the nearby cities. There are also souvenir and book shops, places where visitors can pan for gems, art and antique shops, and more than 75 historical structures still standing from the late 19th century. Some of these structures can be toured during special events such as the annual open house over Labor Day weekend. Silver City is only two hours southwest of Boise and is a great day trip for the entire family.
21. Silver Creek Plunge
© Silver Creek Plunge
The Boise National Forest in the Peace Valley is the home of Silver Creek Plunge and is a beautiful campground surrounded by mountains, wildlife, and Silver Creek that runs right through the middle of the grounds. During Winter months the roads in Silver Creek Plunge are only accessible via snowmobile. The Givens Hot Springs and Burgdorf Hot Springs are open 365 days per year and are open to the public. Along with the campgrounds, there are also a few cabins for rent at Silver Creek Plunge which is just two hours from Boise.
22. Snake River Canyon
Snake River Canyon is located within Twin Falls where the Snake River cuts through ancient volcanic lava and ash in a canyon more than 50 miles long with dozens of springs and two beautiful waterfalls. Visitors to the Snake River Canyon can walk across the Perrine Bridge which crosses the canyon at 500 feet high. The bridge is near the site where infamous daredevil Evel Knievel failed to jump the canon in 1974 and is also the only bridge in the United States that is open all year round for BASE jumping. Just West of the bridge is Centennial Waterfront Park and a 10-mile walking path along the southern rim of Snake River Canyon that accesses the visitors center, waterfalls, and the City of Twin Falls.
2015 Nielsen Point PL, Twin Falls, ID, 83301, Phone: 208-732-5569
23. St Anthony Sand Dunes
The St. Anthony Sand Dunes cover more than 10,600 acres of white quartz sand dunes up to 400 feet high where off-roading, sandboarding, hiking, and horseback riding are popular outdoor recreational activities. These dunes are the largest in Idaho and are open seasonally for many exciting desert activities.
Campsites with electric hookups are found at Elgin Lakes where fishing, hiking, ATV riding, and other fun outdoor activities are abundant. The facilities at St. Anthony’s Sand Dunes include 3 parking lots, restrooms, RV dump stations, water stations, ATV unloading ramp, equestrian trailer area, concession, and picnic tables.
24. Three Island Crossing
Three Island Crossing is where the pioneers crossed the Snake River on the Oregon Trail and if found just over an hour southeast of Boise. Today, the site offers self-guided tours where visitors can explore original wagon ruts, and replicas of Conestoga while also learning about the Oregon Trail and the westward expansion of the United States at the Oregon Trail History and Education Center. The museum also features exhibits on Native American life in Idaho and pioneer life. Camping and cabins are available for rent, and a Disc Golf Course is on site. Children can join the junior ranger program and STEM Challenge workshops throughout the year.
1083 S. Three Island Park Dr. Glenns Ferry Idaho, 83623, Phone: 208-366-2394
25. Boise National Forest
The Boise National Forest spans more than 2.5 million acres just northeast of Boise. The National Forest is a mix of forest and grassland and features the North Fork Payette River Canyon and Trinity Mountain which is 10,000 feet tall at its peak. Visitors to Boise National Forest can hike more than 500 maintained trails or enjoy fishing, kayaking, swimming, and boating among other water recreation at one of the 250 lakes or reservoirs in the Forest. More than 1.5 million people explore the National Forest annually, which also offers snowboarding in the winter months. Campsites and cabin rental are also available in the forest. Some campsites are developed with paved roads and water hookups and restrooms, while others are more primitive. Fees are based on the services at the site.
1249 S. Vinnell Way, Suite 200, Boise Idaho, 83709, Phone: 208-373-4100
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