Idaho road trips are the best way to enjoy this Northwestern state. You will discover stunning mountains, National Parks and tons of open space and total wilderness. It really is the perfect state to hop in the car and escape the constant grind of the big cities.
You can choose between short trips that you can easily drive in a day, or a longer route that you could turn into a full on vacation. With so much to see and do, we would suggest the latter!
Bring your friends or family and pack the car up full as you head off to explore the vast and expansive landscape that Idaho has to offer.
The Best Idaho Road Trips
1. Boise to Idaho Falls
This scenic drive only takes about two hours, but we suggest allocating a full day to explore all the many stop-offs along the route. Highlights for outdoors’ lovers along the way include Malad Gorge State Park (to cross over the canyon where you can view Devil’s Washbowl from above), white river rafting, and plenty of hiking trails. Be sure to stop on Perrine Bridge for views at the end!
Distance: 256 miles
Route highlights: Malad Gorge State Park; Balanced Rock Park; Snake River.
When to do it: May-August
Photo Cred: IG kostyaleon
2. The Sawtooths
This outstanding scenic drive through south-central Idaho climbs more than 5,000 vertical feet from a desert canyon near Boise into the rugged, spectacular mountain terrain of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Distance: 260 miles
Route highlights: Kirkham Hot Springs, Land of Yankee Fork State Park, Redfish Lake, and Ketchum
When to do it: Late spring into early autumn, make sure to check Weather postings for updates (snow can come early or late)
Photo Cred: IG idahoexplored
3. Pend Oreille Scenic Byway
The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway offers drivers some of Idaho’s most spectacular water views. Beginning at the intersection with U.S. 95, Idaho 200 meanders eastward to the Montana state line across farmlands, through river deltas, and along the rocky northern shores of Lake Pend Oreille.
Distance: 33.4 miles
Route highlights: Lake Pend Oreille, Clark Fork River, Ponderay and Sandpoint
When to do it: Year-round
Photo Cred: IG laurenadairgroup
4. Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway offers breathtaking views of the canyon while winding its way along the east side of the massive rift that separates Idaho from neighbouring Oregon. Towering cliffs of black and green basalt hang high above the Snake River and its sandy beaches.
Distance: 22 miles
Route highlights: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Snake River, Hells Canyon Dam
When to do it: Year-round
Photo Cred: IG wmhctrails
5. Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway
Known locally as the Mud Flat Road, this road is the primary access to central Owyhee County. You’ll drive through hay meadows, rolling hills, mountains, and juniper woodlands on the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway. From sagebrush and wildflowers to wild rivers and picturesque mountains, many people believe this scenery is what the real West is all about!
Distance: 101 miles
Route highlights: The North Fork of the Owyhee River gorge, Jordan Creek and the Owyhee Mountains.
When to do it: Early summer and fall. The byway is usually impassable from late November through March because of snow
Photo Cred: IG redhead_5
6. Salmon River Scenic Byway
Salmon River Scenic Byway follows the Salmon River through the Salmon-Challis National Forest; the river and its forks serve as important natural pathways into Idaho’s rugged back country. Keep an eye out for the deer, elk and moose that often graze along the hills and meadows.
Distance: 161.7 miles
Route highlights: Sacajawea Interpretive Center, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Salmon-Challis and Sawtooth National Forests and natural hot springs.
When to do it: Best weather for travel is April to November, although access to the backcountry is best from July to October.
Photo Cred: IG thrivingintiedye
7. City of Rocks Backcountry Byway
This 49-mile route, best traveled between April and November, begins at Albion and finishes in the historic town of Oakley. Rock climbers from around the world come to experience the challenges offered by City of Rocks’ towering spires, but it’s just as impressive to see from the ground.
Distance: 49 miles
Route highlights: Pomerelle Ski Area, Castle Rocks State Park, City of Rocks National Reserve, and Oakley Historic District.
When to do it: April to November
Photo Cred: IG cityofrocksnps