The Best Idaho Summer Adventure Bucket List

With so much natural beauty found in Idaho’s sweeping landscapes, snow-capped peaks, lush forests, and wild rivers. The Gem State is heaven on earth for the outdoors lover. Adventure can be found at every turn and in any season, though there are quite a few unique and exciting activities that are only available in the summertime. Book your trip any time between May and August and you’ll get to experience the best of these seasonal activities, such as whitewater rafting, sandboarding, or ziplining. There are countless scenic hikes, biking paths, climbable mountains, alpine lakes, breathtaking views, and calm fishing waters for all levels of outdoors enthusiasts to enjoy. Be sure to fit some stargazing into your itinerary, as there are large areas within Idaho that are designated dark spots with barely any light pollution to see the stars. Let’s delve into an Idaho summer adventure.

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Idaho Summer Adventure: Cruise the Teton Scenic Byway

Teton Scenic Byway Idaho adventures

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

This scenic byway offers amazingly clear views of the famous Teton Mountains that makes for a brief-but-beautiful road trip through eastern Idaho’s landscape. It’s a must-see experience for those who love an easy adventure. If that sounds like you, be sure to add it to your custom top 10 using Tripio! If you choose to begin your drive at the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Swan Valley, you can travel the byway north in about two hours if you stop at the various points of interest along the way. 

Float the Boise River

Float the winding, calm section of the Boise River on a relaxing afternoon adventure. You’ll receive all your gear upon renting them, including life jackets, paddles, and any protective gear you need to cover your phone and other valuables. Then, you’re off! You’ll be shuttled to the river and your float will be around 2-3 hours long as you enjoy the scenery drifting by. Perfectly enjoyed with a cold drink in one hand and good friends tubing with you! When your river float comes to a close, you’ll be shuttled back to the rental shop to move on to the next part of your travel itinerary. 

Sandboarding at Bruneau Dunes State Park

This state park boasts one of the tallest single-structured sand dunes in North America. It rises 470 feet over the desert floor. With a long summer camping season, it’s a great place to pitch a tent with friends. Sit around the campfire for a night or two. During the day, you can rent a sandboard from the nearby visitor center, fish in the lakes at the base of the dunes, and picnic at the on-site observatory. The observatory also offers visitors the chance to gaze up at the stars (due to the low light pollution in the area) through several telescopes made available. Be sure to bring lots of water, and if you take your furry friends with you, consider giving them booties to protect their feet from the hot sands.

Hike or Camp in Sawtooth National Forest

Sawtooth national forest

Photo by Thomas Dils on Unsplash

Idaho is known for its wide variety of outdoor recreational activities in any season. So you might find there are quite a lot of choices within the Tripio app. So if you just aren’t sure where to go to see the very best nature has to offer in the state, choose this one. The Sawtooths are one of Idaho’s most breathtaking natural features and give outdoor lovers a jaw-dropping visual experience at every turn. The national forest contains a whopping 21 million acres of impressive views to take in. For this reason, there are tons of great hiking trails you can explore in the forest. Some of the most popular scenic hikes are Bench Lakes, Proctor Mountain, and Alice Lake. There are many gorgeous alpine lakes you can travel to for recreational water sports and nearby camping opportunities.

Idaho Summer Adventure: Unwind at Kirkham Hot Springs

Sometimes vacations can be stressful. What better way to melt all the stress away than at a natural hot spring in the mountains? Out of Idaho’s total 130 soakable hot springs, Kirkham never fails to make it onto many traveler’s top 10 list. After parking, you’ll take a brief walk on a paved road until you find yourself at one of the best natural hot springs in Idaho. There are several relaxing pools to choose from in case other families are visiting, so it’s easy to spread out if you have a group. There is even a naturally-formed shower that trickles down from a few rocks above you like a waterfall. Bring water shoes as the rocks can be slick. This is an incredible scenic area nestled in the Boise National Forest. You’re surrounded by mountains, trees, and rivers on all sides.

Wild River Jet Boat Tour of Hell’s Canyon

Hell's Canyon

Photo by CorbeauCreative on Pixabay

Experience the deepest part of Hell’s Canyon as you ride the wild rapids of the Snake River on a 6-hour jet boat tour. This family-operated adventure company, Killgore Adventures, takes pride in the exhilarating experience they’ve perfected after 20 years, providing a great experience for all ages to enjoy. 

The jet boat trip is 32 miles each way, with a few stops for bathroom breaks and historical points of interest along the way. Lunch is provided to give you fuel for the adrenaline rush to follow. Rapids are classes 3-4, so expect a bumpy-yet-controlled ride where you will get wet! If you’re lucky, you’ll experience a wildlife sighting along the way. 

Aerial Ropes Course at Tree To Tree Adventure Park

Fun for thrill-seeking kids and adults alike, Tree to Tree is an outdoor park where you can zipline, climb nets, and walk tightropes high above the ground as you complete the adventure obstacle courses. The course designed for kids takes around 2 hours to complete, and the one for adults is closer to 3 hours. The adventure courses increase in height as you go and have a series of fun, integrated ziplines. It’s an exciting outdoor experience if you like a bit of a challenge!

Whitewater Rafting on “The River of No Return”

Go whitewater rafting on the Upper Salmon River by booking with Sawtooth Adventure Company. They offer scenic day trips seasonally that include a tasty riverside lunch. The crystal clear water will turn into Class III rapids on this trip that are always a safe and fun time for everyone onboard. And don’t worry, you’ll return! This is an action-packed adventure that will take you through some of Idaho’s most picturesque areas on the Snake River.

Idaho Summer Adventure: Paddleboard, Fish, or Camp at Redfish Lake

Redfish lake

Photo by Kjrollins on Pixabay

Located in one of the top places to see in Idaho for its sweeping scenery, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. This crystal-clear lake is perfect for fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating. Around the lake, you’ll find trails that you can hike, bike, or horseback ride through nature. There are campsites along the lake where you can camp out for the night, or you can opt to stay in the lake’s cabin lodge. It tends to get crowded in peak season around June and July, so plan your vacation around that if you’d like a more peaceful visit.

Experience Boise’s Free Summer Concert Series – Alive After Five

If you’ve been scouring the Tripio app for the perfect summer nightlife activity, head to Boise on a Wednesday night for a chill evening of live music and fun. Boise has been running this beloved free concert series every summer for over 30 years. Where local bands and performers will come to showcase their talents. Concerts are scheduled for Wednesdays starting in mid-June and ending in early August at The Grove Plaza. Make sure you bring your ID to get the wristband that will give you access to purchasing drinks at the venue to enjoy throughout the night.

Idaho Summer Adventure: Explore and Spelunk at Craters of the Moon National Monument

Moon national monument

Photo by @letsgrowthere on IG

Craters of the Moon is one of the coolest places in the state. The preserve encompasses a sea of several lava fields and is home to the largest rift crack in the world. A whopping 800 feet deep. There are countless unique volcanic features to explore, caves to go spelunking in, and a lava cone you can hike to the top of. Be sure to start your visit at the visitor center, grab a trail map, and pack a lunch. This area is so huge that one could easily spend all day wandering through fields of lava as old as 15,000 years, and some as young as 2,000 years.

If your heart is set on spelunking, you can get a cave permit to see some of the less-trafficked caves. There’s even a campsite situated amidst the volcanic rock, which gives visitors the perfect opportunity to enjoy one of the preserve’s other amazing features — the sky. Craters of the Moon is located in America’s first national dark spot. Meaning there is so little light pollution that you can see celestial bodies and stars with extreme clarity. Overall, this whole experience is an otherworldly one, and should be at the top of your custom itinerary!

Tandem BASE Jump at Perrine Memorial Bridge

Experienced BASE jumpers require over 200 successfully completed skydives before they can do so on their own. So how do you check it off your bucket list if it’s impossible for those thrill-seekers who just want to try it? The good news is that Tandem BASE can make it happen, and you can make it a reality with Tripio! Here, you can skip the years of training and instead pair up with an experienced jumper who will take the plunge with you and ensure your safety every step of the way. You’ll make the adrenaline-pumping jump off the 486-foot Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls overlooking the Snake River before parachuting down safely to the landing site. Are you up for the challenge? Add it to your custom top 10 and make the magic happen.

Idaho Summer Adventure: Go Ziplining Through the Mountains

If you think you’ve seen most of the staggering beauty Coeur d’Alene has to offer already, you haven’t seen this! Timberline Adventures will take you on 7 ziplines, 2 skybridges, and 2 auto-belays that will take you soaring and teetering over breathtaking views of the Idaho wilderness. This 4-hour zipline tour is a must for thrill-seekers that will surely be an unforgettable summer experience on your visit to Coeur d’Alene.

Wander Through Freak Alley Outdoor Art Gallery

If you decide to travel to Boise, you shouldn’t miss seeing the largest outdoor art gallery in the Northwest. There is also an indoor museum that spotlights local artists you can check out. Seeing all the colorful street art is always a fun way to spend a leisurely afternoon. Definitely add this to your custom itinerary within the Tripio app if you are a fan of all things art.

8-mile Kayaking Trip to Shoshone Falls

Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash

No summer vacation to the Gem State is complete without seeing one of the top 10 best places to see in Idaho. Would you rather see Shoshone Falls up close than from the observation deck? If you’re feeling adventurous, it is possible to kayak or paddleboard (if experienced) to the falls. This is an all-day adventure that should take around 5-7 hours. Best practice is to rent your gear early and set out on the Snake River towards the falls no later than 10am. Once you arrive at the towering 212-foot waterfall and can feel the mist on your face. You’ll be able to cross kayaking to the “Niagara of the West” off your bucket list. 

Idaho Summer Adventure: Stargaze at Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve

America’s first dark sky reserve is right here in Idaho. Where there is so little light pollution that you can see celestial events and constellations in the night sky with ease. The reserve has many hiking, skiing, and biking trails to experience if you are spending some time at the reserve during daylight hours. You can even camp under the stars here in the summertime.

Board a Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruise

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Photo by Kevin Escate on Unsplash

Coeur d’Alene Lake is one of Idaho’s most iconic lakes. So what better way to take in all its gorgeous scenery than to hop on a cruise for the day? You’ll get to see lakefront celebrity homes, sail to a floating golf green, and have brunch or dinner on board. There are lots of different cruises available to choose from. But if you choose not to add a cruise to your itinerary, there are still many ways to enjoy a lakseside summer in Coeur d’Alene.

If you enjoyed this blog, you should also check out: West Virginia: Top 15 Places That Are Almost Heaven

and Top 10 Best Hidden Gems To Experience In Idaho

-Rachael Grow, Tripio Guru

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