There are so many epic day trips from Boise. I’m a Boise local, and I’m still finding new places to explore in this breathtaking state. I’ve put together a list of my favorite Boise day trips to help you plan your next adventure.
There’s something on this list for everyone. Explore our famous mountain ranges, go on an adrenaline-filled whitewater rafting trip, or relax in a natural hot spring. I’ll also share some of Idaho’s best-kept secrets!
Or, for days when you don’t feel like leaving town, see my list of things to do in Boise.
Table of Contents
- 25 Best Boise Day Trips
- Shoshone Falls
- Redfish Lake
- Payette River
- Bruneau Dunes State Park
- Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
- Kirkham Hot Springs
- Bogus Basin Recreation Area
- Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
- Thousand Springs State Park – Ritter Island
- Sunnyslope Wine Trail
- City of Rocks National Reserve
- Twin Falls
- Three Island Crossing State Park
- Centennial Waterfront Park
- Idaho City
- Lucky Peak State Park
- Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
- Silver City
- Sun Valley / Ketchum
- Celebration Park
- Jump Creek Falls
- Downtown Nampa
- Box Canyon State Park
- FAQs About Boise Day Trips
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25 Best Boise Day Trips
Known as the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls are a must-visit while in Boise.
You can’t visit Boise without taking a day trip to the famous Shoshone Falls. This waterfall is taller than Niagara Falls and equally as impressive. “The Niagara of the West” is easily accessible from the nearby city of Twin Falls and is a must-see natural wonder.
Enjoy Shoshone Falls from the observation deck or walk along nearby trails. Visit in spring or early summer for the best view of the falls. Prepare to pay $5 to access the park.
👉 Local Tip: Pack sunscreen and go early in the summertime. The observation areas get hot in the afternoon sun!
Rent a boat or enjoy a day on the beach at one of the most scenic alpine lakes in Idaho.
Redfish Lake is one of Idaho’s best-kept secrets. This alpine lake offers stunning views of the Sawtooth Mountain Range.
Rent paddleboards, kayaks, or motor boats from the Redfish Lake Lodge Marina. You can even go horseback riding through the national forest with a nearby outfitter! After a long day adventuring, stop by the lodge restaurant for a delicious burger before returning to Boise.
Get there early! The lodge parking lot fills up quickly on the weekends.
👉 Local tip: Redfish lake is a summer and early fall destination only. The road is closed in the winter due to snow. Check road conditions before taking this day trip from Boise.
Get your adrenaline pumping with whitewater rafting on the Payette River.
Whitewater rafting and Idaho go hand in hand. This high-intensity activity is one of my favorite ways to beat the heat in the summertime, and makes for one of the most adventurous day trips from Boise.
Book this half-day tour for an exciting rafting trip down one of the most scenic rivers in the state. Rafting down the Payette River is the perfect introduction to whitewater adventures.
This whitewater trip isn’t suitable for children under five years old, so you might want to avoid it if you have young children with you. Instead, pack a picnic and enjoy lunch at one of the many beaches along the Payette River.
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Rent a sand board and sled down the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America.
Believe it or not, the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America is just an hour from Boise. Rent sandboards to sled down massive dunes or take a scenic hike around the park. After dark, go stargazing at the Bruneau Dunes Observatory.
Check the weather forecast before you head out to make sure there’s no wind in the forecast. Wind and sand dunes don’t mix well!
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Take a jet boat tour through the deepest river gorge in North America.
Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America. This ten-mile-wide canyon is a remote wilderness area along the eastern Oregon border and western Idaho. It is an adventurer’s paradise and makes for one of the most epic day trips from Boise.
The best way to see this majestic canyon is with a guided jet boat tour. This top-rated tour takes you on a fun adventure through the canyon and includes a tasty lunch. Enjoy the ride and listen to riveting stories from the captain about the early people who lived in the area.
Stop at Hells Canyon Dam to get a great view of the Seven Devils mountain range.
Kirkham Hot Springs
Arrive early to beat the crowds and soak in this serene natural hot spring.
Kirkham Hot Springs is one of the most relaxing Boise day trips. Visiting this hot spring feels like being transported into another world. Walk down the rustic staircase to access the pools and test them all to find your favorite. After you soak, enjoy a picnic lunch in the fresh mountain air.
There is a $5 parking fee, so plan accordingly and bring exact change. The weekends can get busy, so arrive early to enjoy the natural hot spring without the crowds.
Bogus Basin Recreation Area
Go mountain biking, ride a mountain roller coaster, or try your hand at downhill skiing.
Bogus Basin is one of the closest day trips from Boise that you can take. This recreation area (technically part of Boise National Forest) is perfect for anyone looking for some outdoor fun.
Bogus Basin is the premier spot for downhill skiing or snowshoeing in the winter. In the summertime, ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain and bike down for a thrilling ride. There is plenty for kids to do, with trampolines, rock walls, and Idaho’s only mountain coaster.
Choose one of the hiking and biking trails to get great views of the surrounding mountains. The 11-mile Stack Rock trail is one of my favorite longer hiking trails near Boise if you’re up for a challenge.
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Explore lava flows and take in the stars at Craters of the Moon.
Craters of the Moon is home to one of the largest lava fields in the United States. This national monument is covered with unique black rock resembling the moon’s surface. Apollo 14 astronauts even visited in 1969 to prepare for the moon landing!
Explore caves shaped by historic lava activity or drive the seven-mile road through the preserve. Craters of the Moon is also an International Dark Sky Park. Reserve a camping spot and spend the night for extraordinary views of the stars.
You will need a permit to go into the lava tubes. Stop by the visitor’s center to get your permit and check out the displays.
Thousand Springs State Park – Ritter Island
Enjoy crystal-clear spring water and great birdwatching in this hidden paradise.
Ritter Island is one of my favorite hidden gems in southern Idaho. You’ll be shocked when you pull into this vibrant oasis tucked away in the middle of farm and ranch land. It is one of the seven park units in Thousand Springs State Park that includes Niagara Springs State Park.
This island is surrounded by crystal-clear water and offers stunning waterfalls and wildlife. You might even spot a golden eagle or a heron! Pack a picnic and enjoy the water from the shore or kayak around the island in a 2-mile loop.
Live out your summer lake-town dreams or enjoy a snowy mountain retreat.
McCall is a fun lake town just a few hours north of Boise Idaho with a picture-perfect view of Payette Lake.
Take advantage of the long summer days in this laid-back town. Rent a boat or visit Ponderosa State Park to go biking or hiking. Grab some huckleberry ice cream from the iconic Ice Cream Alley and enjoy dinner at one of the many lakeside restaurants.
If your day trip aligns with the famous yearly Winter Carnival, you’re in luck! This multi-day event showcases snow and ice sculptures and brings thousands of visitors. Plan in advance, and you can snag one of these popular mountain bungalows to stay close to the action.
Sunnyslope Wine Trail
Go wine tasting at local vineyards on the Sunnyslope Wine Trail.
The Treasure Valley is home to some of the best vineyards in the country. Sunnyslope Wine Trail is a region close to the nearby town of Caldwell. It boasts 17 vineyards and local Idaho wineries.
Tour through these vineyards in Idaho wine country to sample local wine and the many fine dining options in the area.
City of Rocks National Reserve
Visit the rock climber’s paradise for an adventurous day trip.
City of Rocks National Reserve is famous for its climbing opportunities, towering rock spires, and unique history. This area offers one of the best granite face climbing areas in the United States and draws climbers from around the world.
You don’t have to be an experienced rock climber to visit! Go hiking, sightseeing, or check out historical landmarks from the 1800s.
Gorgeous mountain views, lakes, and magnificent rivers make this town a must-visit destination.
The tiny town of Stanley is the gateway to the pristine Sawtooth National Forest. This scenic town sits against the backdrop of the Sawtooth mountains and boasts a wealth of outdoor activities.
Visit one of the alpine lakes, take a dip in Boat Box Hot Spring, or go hiking. Stanley Lake is one of my favorite lakes if you’re just visiting for the day.
If you want to tackle one of the longer hikes, like the famous Sawtooth Lake, book one of the recently-updated rooms in Mountain Village Lodge. When staying here, you get access to the hotel’s natural hot spring with a jaw-dropping view of the Sawtooth national recreation area. This is one of my favorite weekend getaways from Boise!
Watch BASE jumpers leap off Perrine Bridge into the canyon below.
Twin falls in south-central Idaho is home to the iconic Perrine Bridge, a popular launching point for BASE jumpers all year round. Stop at one of the overlook points, and you might be able to see these daring jumpers take the plunge.
Be sure to stop by the visitors center, where you can get a good view of the bridge and learn about Evel Knievel’s daring attempt to jump the canyon in 1974.
Make reservations at Elevation 486, an upscale restaurant perched on the edge of the Snake River Canyon. Get a seat outdoors for the best view! You can also venture downtown and visit local antique shops or head to nearby Shoshone Falls.
Three Island Crossing State Park
Explore the Oregon Trail at this historic park.
Three Island Crossing State Park is one of the best day trips from Boise for history buffs. This area was once part of the historic Oregon Trail and is a great place to learn about this exciting piece of the American West.
Visit the Oregon Trail History and Education Center to learn more about the pioneers and Native American people from the area. You can also take a self-guided tour through the park to see replicas of historic covered wagons.
Centennial Waterfront Park
Discover hidden waterfalls and go ziplining at one of the best parks in Twin falls.
Centennial Park in the city of Twin Falls offers a wealth of exciting activities and a stunning view of Perrine Bridge.
If you have time, rent a kayak or paddleboard and journey to the base of Shoshone Falls for an unforgettable trip. You can also take a thrilling zipline ride through the canyon!
Don’t miss Perrine Coulee Falls as you leave. You’ll see a small area to park on the right-hand side of the road as you’re headed out of the park. Go through the break in the trees to find a breathtaking waterfall shooting out of the cliff above.
Treat yourself to a relaxing day at a hot springs resort and explore this historic town.
Idaho City is home to a surprising history. During the gold rush, it was the largest mining town in the Pacific Northwest and was once the capital city of the state. Take a guided historical walking tour to learn more about its intriguing past and visit some of the historic buildings.
After your tour, book a private pool and a massage at The Springs Resort. Soaking in the hot springs in Idaho City is my favorite option for a short, relaxing day trip from Boise.
👉 Local tip: Book The Springs well in advance as the private pools fill up quickly.
Lucky Peak State Park
Get a taste of the exciting Idaho wilderness just minutes from Boise.
Lucky Peak State Park is an excellent Boise day trip if you don’t want to travel too far from Boise. It consists of three units, Discovery Park, Sandy Point, and Spring Shores Marina.
Visit the beautiful Discovery Park for the best place to paddleboard close to the city. Sandy Point has a large beach and a fun swimming area with a large fountain. Spring Shore marina is a great place to rent a jet ski or boat and grab some snacks from the store.
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Find the famous Hagerman Horse fossils at this national monument.
Kids and adults alike will love the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. It contains the largest concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils in North America. Hagerman National Monument also protects ancient fossil deposits from other plants and animals.
It will take about 30 minutes to look through all of the fossils in the visitor’s center. This is an excellent day trip on your way to other activities in the area.
Visit abandoned buildings in this historic ghost town from the 1800s.
Silver City was a booming gold and silver mining town in the 1800s and now sits mostly abandoned. Around 70 of the old buildings are still in the downtown area today.
This off-the-grid ghost town is a well-preserved trip through time. You’ll lose yourself in the past as you wander through the streets. Stop by the old County office building to pick up some souvenirs at the gift shop.
The road to Silver City is a well-maintained gravel road that is usually passable from May through November. Top up on gas and bring snacks, as there isn’t anywhere to fuel up once you head into the mountains.
Sun Valley / Ketchum
Don’t miss this famous Idaho ski town known for surprise celebrity appearances.
The Sun Valley/Ketchum area is home to some of the best downhill and cross country skiing in the state. Celebrities and millionaires come to ski in this upscale resort town, so you might see a familiar face.
Even if you’re not into skiing, you can book a dinner sleigh ride in the snow, hike miles of trails in the summertime, or take a scenic chairlift ride to the top of the mountain.
Search for ancient petroglyphs at Celebration Park.
Celebration Park is an archeological park that makes for an easy day trip from Boise. Walk along the trails throughout the park or take a free guided tour during visitor center hours.
Discover petroglyphs over 1,000 years old and explore the historic railroad bridge over the Snake River.
Jump Creek Falls
The perfect swimming spot close to Boise.
Jump Creek Falls is an easy, half-mile round trip hike that takes you to a hidden waterfall and swimming area. The shaded trail and chilly water make this a great spot to cool off in the summer.
Swim under the 60-foot waterfall in the refreshing pool and jump off the rocks for some added fun. The towering canyon walls create the perfect protected spot to enjoy Idaho’s natural beauty.
Visit museums and adventure around the quaint Nampa downtown area.
Visit the Nampa train depot museum and browse through a wide variety of local railroad artifacts. Walk around the newly-restored downtown to check out local galleries, restaurants, and gift shops.
While in Nampa, stop by the Warhawk Air Museum to complete your tour of the local history. This museum houses aircraft memorabilia from WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and Korea. It even boasts full-size planes in the hangar!
🍴 Read Next: Best Places to Eat in Boise
Box Canyon State Park
Enjoy pristine turquoise spring water and hike past a waterfall to a hidden oasis.
Box Canyon State Park and Nature Preserve is part of the Thousand Springs area and is one of the best day trips from Boise. If you don’t have time to hike, take in the views of the bright-blue pools from the lookout above.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to spend a little more time in the area, follow the hiking trail just over two miles to a gorgeous swimming hole. Visit on a hot day and take a refreshing plunge in the freezing spring water.
Keep an eye out for poison ivy along the path and pack plenty of water and snacks.
👉 Need a Hotel? Check out my guide to the best places to stay in Boise.
FAQs About Boise Day Trips
What are the best day trips from Boise?
What places are within 1 hour of Boise?
The best places to visit within 1 hour distance of Boise include Bogus Basin, Payette River, Sunnyslope Wine Trail, Nampa, and Lucky Peak state park. Depending on where you’re staying in the city, you could also get to Idaho City, Jump Creek Falls, and Three Island Crossing State Park in about an hour.
Do I need a car for Boise?
You need a car if you plan to take any day trips from Boise. Downtown Boise is walkable and has many great restaurants and hotels within a few miles, but you’ll need transportation if you want to explore any wilderness areas, surrounding cities, or state parks.
That’s it for this list of the best day trips from Boise.
I hope you have the best time on your next day trip from Boise! Which destination are you planning to visit first? Let me know in the comments below.
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