Hiking, Biking, and So Much More
Idaho is a wild place. Cut by the Rocky Mountains, this state has more designated wilderness area than any other in the lower 48. If outdoor adventures rank at the top of your to-do list, it takes minimal time and effort to dive into the surrounding beauty of the rivers, mountains, lakes, deserts, hills and other oasis-like wonders of the West found right beyond (and often right inside) Boise and surrounding suburbs. From a post-work wind-down to a long weekend away, just pick your pursuit, grab your gear, and never stop exploring.Photo credit: Miguel Castro and Adrienne Zachary
Hike & Bike
The biking and hiking culture in Boise and beyond is big time. From trails in the Boise Foothills to long road bike or backpacking trips in far-flung mountain outposts, Idaho leads the pack on amazing places to go on two feet, and two wheels.Photo credit: Miguel Castro and Adrienne Zachary
Right here: Trailheads to the Foothills—protected land with miles of trails on the edge of Boise—start just minutes from downtown, and extend far into the rolling backcountry. Plan out your next steps on this interactive map.
Nearby: McCall is a natural wonderland found just two hours north of Boise. Over 500 miles of public trails and 300 lakes give rise to some spectacular summer excursions. Check out the map.
Farther out: Stanley and Sun Valley are legendary. In less than a three-hour drive from Boise, you can hit the jagged peaks and alpine lakes of the Sawtooth National Forest—listed in CNN's top 10 'dare to go' places around the world—and the newly-designated White Clouds Wilderness area. Or explore the extensive trails systems near Sun Valley, the oldest ski resort in the whole of the U.S., which transforms into one of the country's most sought-after mountain biking destinations as soon as the warm weather hits.
Did you know: Sun Valley was the nation's very first ski resort?
Spotlight on The Foothills
Talk about a natural connection. The Boise Foothills provide a postcard-perfect backdrop to the city from almost any angle, and open up access to over 180 miles of trails that take off minutes from downtown, right from North End neighborhoods and parks. Check out the extensive Ridge-to-Rivers trail system on this interactive map.
With 18 ski resorts and an expansive backcountry skiing trail system, Idaho is skier's paradise. See the resorts and learn more here.
Right here: Bogus Basin, a 40-minute drive from Boise, gives you room to ski after work or on a whim. Backcountry routes start here too. So make a run for it. Day passes start at $54 for a full day for adults and only $20 for the kiddos. Sound a little steep? Head up the mountain after work and enjoy night skiing for the low, low price of $25.
Nearby: Tamarack and Brundage Mountains near McCall are key destinations for skiers, boasting incredible snow packs and sunny runs. Scenic cross-country routes also abound in the area. They're a little further out, and lift tickets start at $62 for the day, but the pristine powder and scenic views from the tops of the mountains make the trek more than worth it.
Farther out: Bald Mountain is the centerpiece of the Sun Valley ski resort, one of the oldest and most famous in the nation. You can even check out the first 1930's chairlift from here, fortunately no longer in commission. Bald Mountain, the host of the recent U.S. Alpine Championships, is one of the majestic destinations any skier should include on their bucket list. Lift tickets range from $85 per day for value season to $125 per day for peak season, and offers personalized ski and snowboard lessons.
Spotlight on McCall Nordic
With three different cross country resorts, each offering unique cross-country skiing experiences, McCall is your one-stop-shop for Nordic skiing. Slide past rolling meadows, through forests of Ponderosa pines, and enjoy the picturesque landscapes McCall has to offer.
Raft & Kayak
Kayaks strapped on the tops of Subarus and inflatable rafts trailing behind SUVs are common sights in Boise and Eagle, because the rivers that surround the city boast some of the world's best paddle-powered playtime.
Right here: The Boise River provides a leisurely, popular float for all ages, experience levels, and even forms of watercraft—from rubber tubes to every breed of inflatable. A new whitewater park on a stretch further downstream opens up waves of fun to kayakers and surf boarders.
Nearby: The Main Payette River is a popular, family-friendly and exhilarating day trip starting in Banks, less than a 45-minute drive from Eagle. Banks to Beehive Bend is a respectable 7-mile run, easily enjoyed on a Friday afternoon after work.
Farther out: The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, also known as the River of No Return, is an epic, days-long, 100-mile water-ride through the massive Frank Church Wilderness—voted number three in National Geographic's top places to kayak around the world. Replete with hot springs, wildlife, and whitewater, this spectacular experience tops many bucket lists.
Spotlight on The Greenbelt
A river quite literally runs through it. The beautiful Boise River traces through the heart of Boise and Eagle—framed on both sides by expansive parks and an epic, 20-mile-long paved path known as the Greenbelt. From leisurely walks to commute-style bikes to bird-plus-people watching, nothing quite rivals this scenic riverside attraction for its take-you-anywhere appeal.
Download Greenbelt Map (PDF)Photo credit: Miguel Castro and Adrienne Zachary
It's easy to get hooked on fishing in Idaho. Drop a line in one of the most expansive fisheries anywhere, with rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams teeming with trout, salmon and other catches. Because of that, Forbes ranks Idaho in the top ten fly-fishing states in America.Photo credit: Miguel Castro and Adrienne Zachary
Right here: The Boise River features native rainbow trout, brown trout, whitefish, and stocked steelhead, making it an unbelievably accessible and diverse opportunity for anglers. Better yet? It runs right through town!
Nearby: The Salmon River is named for good reason, with steelhead runs near Riggins and other bankside outposts that lure in crowds.
Farther out: Idaho's Silver Creek, the Henry's Fork and the South Fork of the Snake offer great escapes not too far away with world-renowned fly-fishing.
Spotlight on Hotsprings
While soaking in a natural hot springs lined by rocks near the edge of a river, you gain a whole new perspective on geothermal power. Idaho is a hot spot, literally, with more soakable natural springs than any other state. With 130 spots to dip into—from developed retreats to more tucked away, clothing-optional gems—the hot springs in Idaho will blow you out of the water…and you might even catch a glimpse of one of Idaho's alligators.
Peak baggers, unite. If you like to rock climb, or even, you know, summit mountains, this is your base camp. Challenging routes with unstoppable views pop up everywhere, and Idaho is also home to over 100 mountains over 11,000 feet. If it's too cold outside, keep up on your skills in one of many indoor climbing gyms in the area.
Right here: The Black Cliffs by Lucky Peak, east of Boise, may sound intimidating, but it's incredibly popular with climbers for its 60-story tall cliffs and a range of routes to practice on.
Nearby: City of Rocks, described by pioneers as "a city of spires," is a rock climber's dreamscape. Granite domes and steeples make it one of America's greatest destinations for climbers of all skill levels
Farther out: Slick Rock Mountain east of McCall in the Payette National Forest is a large rock face that makes for challenging sport.
Spotlight on Urban Ascent
Boise's biggest indoor rock wall is outfitted with state of the art equipment maintained by an experienced and passionate staff. Everyone from first-time climbers to veteran mountaineers will enjoy Urban Ascent's extreme rock walls.
Idaho ranks in at No. 4 on the list of states with the most acres of public land—making it a complete hunter's haven. With plenty of untouched wilderness to explore, and 200+ sunny days per year, hunting is a year-round sport.
Right here: Unit 39 is 60 percent Boise forest, 35 percent rangeland—and over 75 percent open to the public. It ranges from the eastern edge of Boise all the way to the Sawtooth Wilderness. Big game hunters and fowl hunters alike will find just what they're looking for in Unit 39.
Nearby: McCall's picturesque landscape of mountains and trees is good for more than just great photos or alpine skiing—it's also the hunting mecca of Idaho…and only a short trip (less than two hours) from Boise proper.
Farther out: If wide open spaces are what you seek, look no further than Eastern Idaho—where game birds and waterfowl abound.
Spotlight on Boise River WMA
Just 15 minutes east of the city of Boise lies a hunter's paradise. With everything from big game, to upland birds, small game, and everything in between, avid hunters never have to go far to find wilderness.
It's no wonder we're often referred to as the playground of the Northwest!