Some of Idaho’s best, most beautiful spots are hidden places. Locals know about them. As the summer season continues, road trippers and travelers have the chance to enjoy the local flavor of Idaho through seeking out its little-known gems.
The secret parks, small towns, remote lakes, and hidden hikes on this list offer desert oases, getaways, and incredible views. We want to give you the top seven sites you can visit in Idaho to spend your summer this year finding relaxation, enjoyment, and thrills.
Here are those seven, most secret and charming spots for you to explore on your next trip to the “Gem State.”
With lovely urban waterfalls that babble along the Snake River, this Idaho Falls focal point is a city park, hiding a stunning and lush secret garden. The site includes meditation areas, ample shade, gorgeous landscaping, and small creeks all inspired by Japanese culture. It’s the perfect place to get away while staying in the heart of its city.
The Japanese Friendship Garden is set aside from the main park, and you’ll still find meditation stones, benches, and waterfalls where you can sit, relax, and find a moment of zen. Anyone who wants a bit of lush scenery and endless vegetation will take time in the park to admire its memorials as well as garden-like trimmings. Finally, it features the Rock Garden, a winding labyrinth of beauty.
For a perfect photo in every season, visit the trails and lakefront views of this underrated park, a family getaway as beautiful as it is forgotten. Tucked at the base of Craig Mountains, there is a cozy community of yurts that make up its rugged accommodations. These private yurts offer paradise in the woods, but you can still access traditional camping with waterfront views.
Winchester Lake includes over 100 miles of idyllic beauty that too often slips through the cracks of appreciation—even for locals. In reality, this state park is a natural haven and priceless destination of evergreen perfection. Skate in the winter, hike in the summer, camp in the fall—Winchester is great for snow lovers as well as summer adventurers.
This is a hidden hiking opportunity with real grit. Do you enjoy secret caves, waterfalls, and oases in the desert? With turquoise waters formed from the melting snowpack of nearby mountains, this Grand Canyon-like set of red-rock cliffs is a surprising scene of rare beauty. The hike to the base of these Canyonlands reveals carved rock walls and hidden meadows.
Your more experienced hiker can find their own way down the impressive facades that rise over 8 feet around you. If you get the impression you’re on another planet, you’re not alone. The surreal, secret chasm stretches for almost 60 miles, making it impossible to explore every nook and cave.
Through quaint architecture and rural charm, this truly special but slim community has more history, more activities, and more treasured landscapes than you might imagine. Surrounded by rolling hills and working farmland, Weiser is a town that is picture-perfect from a distance and welcoming up close.
If you come to historic Weiser, prepare for the peace and quiet that only small-town country living can offer. You’ll enjoy a favorite walk among locals at the Weiser River Trail that leads all the way to the McCall. It’s the longest “rail-to-trail” route you can take in the state. More, you can camp at Steck Park and Mann Creek Reservoir for basic camping and fishing.
Salmon River Lodge Resort
A rustic getaway and secluded wilderness, Salmon River Lodge Resort is part of the wild. Truly cloaked in trees and isolation, these accommodations give you access to the most appreciated river in the state. The mountain views don’t disappoint since the resort sits over a unique and secluded edge where Corn Creek meets the Salmon River.
In the heart of the state’s most intense wilderness, you may think the isolation itself is what makes this place unique. It boasts self-sufficiency while being completely modernized. Really a basecamp for exploring rugged country, there are positive signs along the way. Perhaps that’s why their motto is: “Discover the wild, in style.”
Box Canyon Springs
What could be more exciting than unexpected, volcanic perfection? Sitting in the southern part of the state, Box Canyon Springs houses the biggest, most surprising waterfalls, canyons, and formations. And, like some other secret spots on this list, it features a natural spring oasis as well. But, you won’t even know this place exists until you’re right in its middle.
Known for its walking trails and overlooks, Box Canyon Springs’ oasis sits just a few hundred feet from sagebrush skeletons and the rim of a dry canyon. Within it, you can enjoy green, ivy-encases rock walls that mark its borders. And, lush water plants bob along where 180,000 gallons of water pour from the Snake River and power a 20-foot waterfall.
Trail Creek Cabin
Dining is done right with a 360–degree mountain view, a lush scene of treescaping, and the relaxation of whispering streams. Find it all at the delicious eatery known as Trail Creek Cabin. The place is a classic piece of humble woods in Sun Valley that rests where the town meets Sawtooth National Forest, towered over by evergreens.
Visitors enjoy an unobstructed view of Bald Mountain as well as the photos of Ernest Hemingway that speckle the walls. (This was a favorite spot for the famous, American novelist.) In the summer, diners can enjoy the back patio bridge over the water rapids that creates an energy of liveliness as well as rare luxury. While, in the winter, you can enjoy the view from the comfort of the cabin, warmed with a brilliant fireplace.
Remember that ISU Credit Union is here to assist you in meeting your financial goals. Have a goal to save for a trip to Idaho? Check out our savings options.