We Americans are spoiled by some of the most diverse, beautiful scenery in the world. Yet there are few places where you can still explore our most stunning landscapes on your own terms, without jostling crowds or overfilled campsites or long lines. Luckily, Idaho is one of those rare places. Here are five reasons why this state should be at the top of your trip list.
1. Our Wilds Are Wilder
Idaho boasts six designated wilderness areas, two of which — the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness — are the largest in the lower 48. These wilderness landscapes include towering mountains, shockingly deep canyons, cold glacial lakes, untamed rivers, and some of the best hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, and jet boating opportunities in the nation. Although motorized vehicles are not allowed in these areas, exploring these on foot and camping offers a great way to add a bit of wild variety to your next RV trip.
2. The Stars Shine Brighter Here
In many parts of the country, light pollution makes it difficult to see many of the constellations our ancestors knew and tracked — much less the glory of the Milky Way Galaxy. But here in Idaho, we hold a unique honor: America’s first Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Reserve. This 900,000-acre space in Central Idaho is where you can experience some of the clearest views of the stars in the world. Although this area offers some of the finest camping and hot springing in the state, it’s not as far off the beaten track and you might think: It’s just 2.5 hours away from Boise, and the popular mountain towns of Ketchum/Sun Valley and Stanley are within its borders.
3. The Whitewater Is in a Class of Its Own
There’s a reason we’re nicknamed “The Whitewater State”! Whether you’re a pro kayaker who tackles Class Vs with ease or a novice who wants the stomach-churning thrills of plunging down a roiling river, you’ll find your thrill here in Idaho. The Salmon River, one of the longest undammed rivers in the continental United States (425 miles!), is the granddaddy of them all. But you’ll find plenty of other options: The Payette, a kayaking haven just over an hour from Boise; the Selway, known for its outstanding trout fishing; the Wild & Scenic Lochsa, the river Lewis and Clark traveled; and the Snake, which flows through jet-boat friendly Hells Canyon and pours over the Niagara of the West, Shoshone Falls. No matter where you go, big water is highest in the spring, but families and anglers may opt for the slower speeds of summer.
4. Our Mountains Are Breathtaking
Travel through Idaho and you’re almost guaranteed to see John Muir’s famous quote emblazoned on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and posters: “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” Every part of the state has its own range — the Portneufs and Blackfoots in Eastern Idaho, the South Hills and Albions in Southern Idaho, the Owyhees and Boise Mountains in Southwestern Idaho; the Sawtooths and Salmon River Mountains in Central Idaho; the Clearwaters and Selkirks in Northern Idaho. And that’s just to name a few! You’ll find plenty of opportunities to travel through scenic byways and high mountain passes and discover your own favorites.
5. It’s Peaceful
Idaho’s rugged landscapes offer plenty of opportunities to get away from it all. Traffic jams, crowded campsites, and backed-up hiking trails are still fairly rare here, despite the state’s growing population. If you’re looking for a place to reconnect with the wild, this is it. Of course, you’ll still want to do your homework and make the proper reservations before you set out on your trip. Our Idaho RV Campgrounds Association online guides make it easy! Check out our Find a Park feature, Explore Idaho travel info, our free Camping Guide, or our resources section to start planning. We can’t wait for you to discover your own reasons to love Idaho!