Out There: Roadtrip to SW Idaho

By May 13, 2018 September 24th, 2018 No Comments

A roadtrip to SW Idaho opens up a world of experiences — and photo opportunities.

Boise, Idaho — a small city or big town, depending on your perspective — is the most remote metro area in the United States.

Once here, you’re within a 2-hour drive of true wilderness, dark skies, and adventures both wild and mild. It’s the ultimate road-trip, and it’s right in the heart of the West. So pack up the van, charge up your batteries, and let’s go!


Ever tear down a 470-foot high dune on a sandboard?

Here’s your chance. Especially in the early-morning and late-afternoon light, the mesmerizing texture of the giant dunes resemble something out of the Sahara. It’s also a great spot to capture long-exposure images of the night sky, free of any light pollution. And it’s just 64 miles from Boise.



As you drive north of Boise along Highway 55, there are countless side roads and pull-outs to observe the raw power and sheer beauty of one of the most famous stretches of whitewater in the world — the Payette River. In the summer months you’ll find plenty of kayakers and rafters deftly navigating the epic rapids, making for some great photography. Or take a detour to one of the many nearby streams for still water and a still mind.


A burgeoning food and music scene here provide entertainment and sustenance. The Capital City Public Market fills 8th Street from the Statehouse to the Grove Plaza on Saturdays. Photographic opportunities surround you. Or check out the Boise Basque Block to get a taste of Europe without leaving the continent.


Stop for a spell and let the rejuvenating powers of the geothermal pools seep into your soul. Some hot springs are developed and comfortable. Others are hidden and untamed. Capture the perfect image of warm mist rising off the pools in the golden light of the late afternoon.


For generations, the lake in the historic logging town of McCall has served as a special getaway for Idahoans and visitors alike. Activities on the lake abound – sailing, water skiing, kayaking, swimming and simply sitting on the dock and taking it all in. The lookout point at Ponderosa State Park is an easily accessible place to capture stunning scenery in panorama.


Don’t overlook the highway itself as a muse in your work. It weaves through beautiful, wildflower-filled meadows in Long Valley, beneath some dramatic rocky crags, over some harrowing summits, and along popular wildlife corridors. Keep your camera handy, and look for those pull-offs. 


The park is especially popular in the springtime when the flat meadows along the river erupt into seas of wildflowers amid basalt melon gravel. Keep your eye out for petroglyphs – artwork created by Native Americans hundreds and even thousands of years ago on the faces of the boulders. Located to the southwest of Boise, the park borders the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

Tag your Southwest Idaho discoveries with #AOVswidaho and we’ll be sure to share them with our audience.

This post was provided by the Southwest Idaho Travel Association. Find more travel ideas and guides at

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