A Scenic Idaho Road Trip: The Best Places to Visit in a Week

idaho road trip - one week

The best places to visit for a week-long scenic Idaho road trip, from the state capital to waterfalls, hot springs, and river floats.

As I mentioned in my last post about Boise, it was my first time in Idaho this summer. It’s not a hugely popular place for tourism, compared to other states around the US, and I found it to be highly underrated as a destination. Idaho is lovely in so many ways.

I did one week Idaho road trip and found myself amazed at the scenery and natural beauty everywhere. All of the Idaho license plate slogans say “the scenic state” and I could see why as soon as I hit the road.

Sadly, I didn’t get to try any potatoes, or potato ice cream (yes, that’s a thing) while I was there, but I did get to see a few sights that made me want to come back to the state soon for a longer adventure.

idaho-road-trip - USA Travel

My seven-day Idaho road trip started in Boise and then went through the southern parts of the state, on my way to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

I hit Boise, Twin Falls, a small city called Rupert, Lava Hot Springs, and Soda Springs through the duration of that week. I wanted to share a few of my favorite moments and photos from my first time in the state.

Here’s my ideal list of stops for a scenic Idaho road trip.

The Best Stops for a Scenic Idaho Road Trip


Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

The capital of Idaho, Boise is an up and coming city for the craft beer industry. It has plenty of art and creative outlets around downtown, and every imaginable outdoor activity you could imagine on hand.

Although, I kind of get the feeling that’s a common theme throughout Idaho in general.

Boise is a nice big city because it doesn’t feel too overwhelming or busy. It has still managed to keep that small town charm even though it is the largest city in the state, and I found the locals incredibly easy to talk to.

Boise is the perfect jumping off point for an Idaho road trip. Spend a few days here and introduce yourself to the Idahoan culture before venturing to the more rural areas of the state.

Twin Falls

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

Potentially my favorite part of my Idaho road trip, Twin Falls is just a couple of hours from Boise and this is really when I started to see the natural beauty of the state come out tenfold.

Although we passed through the small town of Twin Falls, we didn’t actually see the waterfalls where the town gets its name. Instead we opted for Shoshone Falls Park for scenic overlooks and plenty of beautiful areas from which to take photos.

I actually thought I was heading to Twin Falls, but when I realized my mistake I just went with it and enjoyed the attractive Shoshone Falls and layered history surrounding the area.

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

The Shoshone Falls are higher than Niagara Falls, although not quite as boisterous. A great place for a picnic and a short hike on your way to your next Idaho destination.


Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel
Can you spot the bobcat?

I ended up staying in Rupert for a couple of nights and I loved staying in such a small city full of only locals. There aren’t many tourists that come through this city of just over 5,000 residents, but it was everything you’d expect from small town America.

I was hammock camping at the delightful Lake Walcott State Park, just outside of Rupert, and besides there being an abundance of bugs, it was the prettiest place I camped in Idaho.

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

If you have the chance to spend a couple of days in small town Idaho, that’s where you’ll get the best idea of local culture and the Idaho way of life.

Although I didn’t do any classic “tourist” type activities, simply talking to locals and driving around town was a nice break from continuous sight seeing.

Lava Hot Springs

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

Lava Springs is an even smaller place than Rupert, with just over 400 residents. I stopped for a night here, well, because the name sounded cool, but also because they have some of the most famous Idaho hot springs.

There’s a river that runs through town that locals and visitors love to float down. Luckily enough, I had already bought an inexpensive inner tube in Portland previous to starting our Idaho road trip, just in case we came across a lake or river we wanted to float in.

In Lava Springs, I blew up my pink inner tube and went down to the launch point. Floating down a river was something I had never done before, and it was an experience I was excited for but also a tad anxious about.

I floated down twice and the second time is when I backflipped down a small rapid that forced me underwater. I managed to just come out with a few scrapes and bruises, but after that I was ready for a relaxing time in the famous hot springs.

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

I stopped in at Lava Hot Springs Hot Pools and tested out the variety of temperatures in the different pools they had on offer. It was the perfect way to relax after the thrilling river run and exactly what I needed before getting in the car again for another long drive.

Soda Springs

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

Soda Springs was a quick visit and our last stop before heading into Wyoming and up to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. Soda Springs is famous for its geyser that goes off every hour on the hour.

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

The geyser was discovered in 1934 when town leaders were looking for access to a hot pool attraction to boost tourism. Instead, they drilled into a spot that released the geyser.

It was continuously releasing water for weeks and flooding the downtown area before the leaders decided they needed to put a cap on it. Today, it is still released by a time valve every hour as a tourist attraction. It’s worth a stop to see if you’re in Southeast Idaho!

Have you done an Idaho road trip before? What other places should I see next time I’m in the state? 


Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

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Mimi McFadden
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29 thoughts on “A Scenic Idaho Road Trip: The Best Places to Visit in a Week”

  1. I’m from Idaho and recommend visiting Norther Idaho. Maybe I am bias as I come from the northern part, but the northern part is much more picturesque with tall lush green mountains and crystal clear lakes – you’ll almost forget the state is known for potatoes!

    • Yes, Idaho was a beauty Sophia! The waterfalls pictured in this post are actually called Shoshone Falls, but they’re outside of the town called Twin Falls. We didn’t have time to get to the Twin Falls waterfalls themselves unfortunately for this trip.

  2. Your photos are awesome. I spent like an hour in Idaho in June, we drove in from Wyoming, but it looked nothing like this! I definitely need to go there and see that beautiful waterfall!

  3. Also, I must add that you need to visit McCall. It’s a popular tourist destination that features a wonderful ice sculpture festival in the winter. But year-round, it’s a gorgeous area. The scenery you captured in your pictures here pales in comparison to what you’ll see in McCall.

  4. Our family lived for 9 years in the Boise area. Next time you go back, you MUST visit Idaho City. The mountain views are spectacular, and the small town is rustic (as in frontier). You’ll love the boardwalks and log-cabin businesses. It’s a popular tourist spot in the summer but is quite remote in the winter. There are a few local residents, but the town is largely untouched by modern-day standards.

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