Idaho’s mountain vistas and sparkling lakes are no small potatoes. From the beauty of Lake Coeur d’Alene to the hot springs scattered throughout the state, everywhere you go there’s a new experience to try. RVshare can help you find a great rental option to explore the state, wherever you decide to head first.
1.) Lake Coeur d’Alene
An Idaho RV vacation is best kicked off with a visit to the awe-inspiring Lake Couer d’Alene. While the entire Couer d’Alene region is awash in lakes left behind by glaciers thousands of years ago, the most popular and scenic by far is Lake Couer d’Alene itself. Rent anything from a speedboat to a kayak to take out on the 25 miles of crystal blue waters. Book a parasailing adventure and soar above everyone else, or try zip lining above Beauty Bay. Spend some time fishing or waterskiing. The lake vistas also mean beautiful biking trails and scenic hiking around the shores.
There are also several golf resorts with breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding forests and mountains. Winter visitors can ski or snowboard at nearby Silver Mountain Resort. Also, try the Lake Couer d’Alene Scenic Byway past lakes and mountains and watch for moose, deer, elk, and bear, along with several species of birds native to the area.
Lake Coeur d’Alene
Where To Stay
Camp Couer d’Alene offers water access to Lake Couer d’Alene and is remote enough to feel like you’re away from everything…but only 15 minutes from downtown. The campground has spaces for even the biggest RVs and campers, a pool, and canoe and pedal boats for guests to use. Beauty Creek Campground, along the shores of Beauty Creek, has — as the name implies — lovely views of wooded hillsides and creeks and access to miles of trails.
2.) Silverwood Theme Park
If you’re taking an Idaho RV trip with kids, Silverwood Theme Park is an excellent destination. Located near Couer d’Alene, Silverwood is the largest theme park in the northwest with more than 65 rides and a water park with wave pools. The park has an excellent mix of thrill rides for the adventurous, and lower intensity rides for younger visitors and guests who don’t want too much speed. They even have the rides helpfully categorized in the same manner as ski slopes — from green circles to black diamonds — so no one end up on a coaster they weren’t ready for. Boulder Beach Water Park includes waterslides and wave pools, and admission is included in the general ticket price.
Silverwood Theme Park
Address: 27843 N. Hwy 95, Athol, ID 83801
Contact: (208) 683-3400
Price: Ticket prices vary by season, but range from $19.88 to $51 for kids and adults 8 and up. Kids 3-7 are between $19.88-$28. The park is open spring-fall but closed in winter.
Where to Stay
Silverwood RV Park is within walking distance of the theme park and offers discounted tickets to the park for guests who stay there. Visitors also have access to free wifi, picnic tables and fire rings, laundry facilities, a playground, and a volleyball court.
3.) Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Any good Idaho RV trip planner will also include Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, described as “a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush.” The area was created by volcanic eruptions in eight major periods between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Check in to the Visitor Center to learn about the volcanic activity that created a lava field that covered 618 square miles, and discover more about the people who lived in the area. See what might happen next in the area, which is still being shaped by forces of nature. Marvel at the spectacular displays of wildflowers that bloom among the dry cinder cones and lava fields, in areas where it seems impossible to sustain life. In fact, Craters of the Moon generally has blooming flowers from the end of April until September, amazing when you consider that surface temperatures of the rocks can exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit during that time.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Address: P.O. Box 29, Arco, ID 83213
Contact: (208) 527-1300
Price: $15 per vehicle
Where to Stay
4.) Shoshone Falls
An Idaho RV road trip should also include a stop at “The Niagra of the West” — Shoshone Falls. Actually, at 212 feet, the falls are higher than Niagara, and the area lends itself to lots of outdoor activities. Shoshone Falls Park has a boat launch to the Snake River. Visitors can also hike and see local wildlife in the area. The Shoshone Falls Overlook provides the perfect place to take in the sight of one of the largest natural waterfalls in the United States (in fact, if you’d like to get an idea of what you will see ahead of time, you can view their live cam here.)
Nearby Dierkes Lake is another beautiful spot to spend an afternoon biking, swimming, or fishing. The park also has a rock climbing area, and a playground (for much younger climbers!). While you’re on the Snake River, you can also visit the Perrine Bridge, which arcs nearly 500 feet above the river, and is near the site of Evel Knievel’s attempted jump across the canyon in 1974. Currently, it is the only location in the U.S. open to BASE jumping year-round.
Address: 3300 East Road, Twin Falls
Contact: (208) 736-2265
Price: $3 per vehicle
Where to Stay
5.) Travel the Scenic Byways
When you’re planning your Idaho RV trip itinerary, be sure to leave time for some byways and backroads — by far the most fun way to explore any state. The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway takes you northeast through the Targhee National Forest. The thirty-mile loop travels to the Island Park area and back. Get cameras ready for two of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Northwest — upper and lower Mesa Falls. You can also visit the interpretive center at the upper falls to learn about the geology and history of the surrounding area. You’ll also travel through Harriman State Park, once a cattle ranch and private retreat for the Harriman and Guggenheim families.
The Sawtooth Scenic Byway heads north through green farmland and then on to the mountain towns of Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley. Along the way, you’ll pass sparkling Redfish Lake and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The recreation area has over 700 miles of trails, and 40 mountains that rise above 10,000 feet, plus alpine lakes and jaw-dropping vistas. You can stop and hike, fish, backpack, boat, raft, or watch for native animals and birds that inhabit the area.
The 162 mile Salmon River Scenic Byway begins at the Montana state line and follows the Salmon River through the Salmon-Challis National Forest, then west to Stanley. Stops along the way include the Sacajawea Interpretive Center, salmon spawning beds, the Lake of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center, natural hot springs, ghosts towns, and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. The byway follows the same route Lewis and Clark followed 200 years ago.
Where to Stay
Camping is available at several campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, including along the shores of Redfish Lake.
6.) Payette Lake
On your list of Idaho RV trip ideas, Payette Lake needs a choice spot. The glacier-made lake sits 5,000 feet above sea level, nestled in the forest in the center of the state. The 5,330 acre lake is a dazzling blue and reaches depths of 392 feet. It offers all manner of boating, and is even the site of the Payette Cup Regatta early each summer. You can also take a lake or river cruise on “The Idaho” — a 90 passenger cruise boat with a full-service bar and upper sun deck to enjoy the view. Fishing is plentiful as well, and you may catch cutthroat, lake, or rainbow trout in its waters, along with smallmouth bass or sockeye salmon among other species. The lake even has its own local legend — an Idaho Loch Ness monster named Sharlie, who locals say they’ve sighted around the lake since 1920. Some people think she’s an ancient sturgeon or another kind of fish…but we may never know for certain.
Where to Stay
Ponderosa State Park covers most of a 1,000-acre peninsula that juts into Payette Lake near McCall. The park has hiking, biking, naturalist walks, and evening campfire programs. You’ll also see plenty of ponderosa pine, as the name implies, along with Douglas fir, grand fir, and lodgepole pine.
7.) Sun Valley
Sun Valley is one of Idaho’s best-known destinations, and a visit there is sure to top your list of best RV trips in Idaho. In winter, you can ski at Sun Valley on more than 2,000 acres of varied terrain over the two mountains at the resort — Bald and Dollar Mountain. Kids even get their own themed runs called Adventure Trails, with 30 acres of glade skiing and boarding terrain.
If you’re headed to Sun Valley in the summer, you can golf (and yes, your golf ball will fly farther from a higher elevation!), hike, run, or bike on more than 30 miles of paved, car-free bike paths or hundreds of miles of unpaved mountain bike trails. Take the gondola to the top of the mountain and hike or bike your way back down to the bottom. At the end of a long day of adventuring, you can relax and recuperate with a well-earned treatment at The Spa at Sun Valley.
Sun Valley Resort
Address: 1 Sun Valley Rd., Sun Valley, ID 83353
Contact: (208) 622-4111
Where to Stay
8.) Visit a Hot Springs Area
Idaho is home to several natural hot springs. Burgdorf Hot Springs, near McCall, is both a rustic resort nestled in the mountains and a ghost town. Old cabins and a hotel can be seen in a meadow surrounded by the Payette National Forest. The mineral hot springs are available to both day and overnight guests. During summer, guests can drive to the resort, but during winter it can only be reached by snowmobile. The resort is closed in late fall and early spring.
Gold Fork Hot Springs in Donnelly has six chlorine-free mineral pools and hydro massage. Changing yurts are available, along with light snacks. There are also kiddie pools so kids can splash and play. The facility only accepts cash or check but does not accept credit cards.
Roystone Hot Springs makes a great stop for a dip in the springs, or for an entire day of relaxing. Roystone has both a natural hot springs pool and a large jetted tub. The water comes out of the ground at 140 degrees Fahrenheit but is cooled to 98 degrees for the pool and 104 degrees for the hot tub.
Idaho Hot Springs Areas
Burgdorf Hot Springs: burgdorfhotsprings.com; McCall, ID; (208) 636-3036
Gold Fork Hot Springs: goldforkhotsprings.com; Donnelly, ID; (866) GLD-FORK
Roystone Hot Springs: roystonehotsprings.com; Sweet, ID; (208) 584-3371
Where to Stay
Roystone Hot Springs has RV camping available at their on-site RV park, with full hookups, wi-fi, laundry facilities, easy access to the hot springs pool and hot tub, fire pits, and picnic tables, and access to the rec area. Ponderosa State Park is near McCall and is a good camping option if you’re visiting Burgdorf or Gold Fork.
9.) Minnetonka Cave
Minnetonka Cave in the St. Charles Canyon, is half a mile of stalactites, stalagmites, and banded travertine. Guided tours take visitors exploring through nine rooms of the caves, where they can learn about the geology and history of the area. The cave stays around 40 degrees all year so even in sweltering summers, you’ll need a jacket!
The Paris Ice Cave is also in the same valley. While not as impressive as the Minnetonka, it is worth a visit! Follow signs up Paris Maine Canyon to find the ice cave.
Address: Minnetonka Cave Rd, St Charles, ID 83272
Contact: (435) 245-4422
Price: tours are $8 for adults 16 and up; $6 for children; kids 5 and under are free
Where to Stay
Bear Lake State Park is nearby. Often called “The Caribbean of the Rockies,” the lake offers boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and lots of other outdoor activities. RV camping is available at several campgrounds there throughout the year.
10.) Snake River Birds of Prey
The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area was established by Congress 25 years ago to protect the region in North America with the highest density of nesting raptors. More than 700 pairs of raptors nest each spring along this area of the Snake River Canyon, including between 150-200 pairs of prairie falcons. Other nesting birds of prey in the region include golden eagles, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, great-horned owls, and osprey. Your best chance at seeing these raptors is from mid-March through the end of June. The Visitor Center is the best place to begin your exploration, and a great place to get tips on when and where to see the birds. If you’re visiting in May, you may see eagle parents feeding their chicks, and in the first week of June you may see those babies fledging. Other birds like great blue herons and California quail also make the conservation area their home. If you’re a birder, this stop should be on your Idaho bucket list!
Snake River Birds of Prey
Address: 3948 S. Development Ave, Boise, ID 83705
Contact: (208) 384-3300
Where to Stay
Camping is available at the Cove Recreation Site within the conservation area and includes picnic shelters, fishing docks, an RV dump station, and a boat ramp. No drinking water is available. The campground also does not take reservations — it is first-come, first-served only. On the south side of the reservoir, the Black Sands Resort has camping with full hookups, a restaurant and bar, and a boat launch.
Idaho has sweeping vistas, interesting wildlife, and many exciting places to explore in an RV rental! You can also check out these top 10 campgrounds in the state for more ideas of places to go. These are some lovely RV parks to stay in while you vacation in the state as well. You really can’t go wrong — anywhere you choose to travel in Idaho is sure to be memorable!