Offering rich history and abundant wilderness across 30 state parks, along with 31 scenic byways covering over 2,400 miles, Idaho is an ideal destination for a grand and fascinating road trip by car, RV or motorcycle. If you’re looking for inspiration and ideas for your next visit to the Great American West, consider these four pairings packed with Idaho’s stunning scenery and captivating stories.
Oregon Trail – Bear Lake Scenic Byway & Bear Lake State Park
Connect with Idaho’s pioneer history along the Oregon Trail-Bear Lake Scenic Byway with a stop at the National Oregon/California Trail Center. Take an auto tour, visit interpretive sites or hike trail segments of the westward migration of American settlers.
Located just 30 minutes south of the Oregon National Historic Trail, Bear Lake State Park is home to the sparkling turquoise waters of its namesake lake. Often referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies,” Bear Lake stretches 20 miles across the Idaho-Utah border and is the perfect spot to spend a day swimming, fishing or water-skiing.
City of Rocks Backcountry Byway & Castle Rock State Park
Continue your history lesson with the City of Rocks Backcountry Byway. This rural byway wraps around two geographic stunners in southern Idaho: City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park. City of Rocks is a 14,407-acre paradise of granite domes and pure Idaho wilderness well-known for rock climbing, hiking and birding. The reserve is also home to historical trails, replica wagons and markings from pioneers traveling the California Trail during the gold rush. Emigrants passing through named it “The Silent City.”
Next door, Castle Rocks State Park is formed by a unique rocky landscape that dates back 2.5 million years. While exploring the rock formations, be on the lookout for Native American pictographs created by the area’s original inhabitants.
Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway & Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes State Park
What better spot to get lost in the twists and turns of an open road than beautiful, airy Coeur d’Alene? Known as one of the best summer playgrounds in the Pacific Northwest, a drive along the Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway offers views of lakes, mountains and wildlife.
Make your way to the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes – a 73-mile paved path through the center of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s aboriginal territory. Stretching along the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the trail is perfect for a leisurely bike ride. Along the way, catch glimpses of eagles, deer, elk and other wildlife among the pine and fir trees.
Salmon River Scenic Byway & Land of the Yankee Fork State Park
Take the Salmon River Scenic Byway to the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park for highlights of Idaho’s frontier mining history. Located near the intersection of Idaho State Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 93, the site’s interpretive center showcases the area’s mining past, and historical sites and ghost towns throughout the park tell the story of the land’s early inhabitants and gold seekers.
For more information on Idaho, visit VisitIdaho.org.