Boise, Idaho boasts sweeping mountain views and plenty of options for adventure within the city limits itself. However, the possibilities expand significantly for those willing to embark on a day-trip out of the city. There is plenty to do in the region surrounding Boise, with many chances for fun a short drive away. Check out our picks for the 7 must-do day trips from Boise.
1. Bruneau Dunes State Park
Perhaps you’ve spent time skiing snow-packed slopes, but dune skiing is another adventure entirely. Bruneau Dunes State Park is a little over an hour’s drive from Boise and is the only place in the state when you can engage in dune skiing.
This state park is home to the largest freestanding sand dune in North America, with a mountain of sand reaching 470 feet into the sky. Visitors can rent sand boards to dune ski or hike the natural trails that surround the park, offering five miles of stunning vistas.
2. Idaho City
Idaho City is also about 60 or so miles from Boise and is an ideal day trip for history buffs that might enjoy wandering around a mining town. It boasts a rustic and charming downtown area that features local businesses selling everything from antiques to western wear.
The Springs, a natural hot springs attraction, can also be found in Idaho City. This is a great option for a day trip from Boise that is meant to be relaxing, offering visitors an opportunity to unwind. The Historical Walking Tour is another good option to check out during a day trip to the area. It pinpoints some of the historical markers in the town.
3. Caldwell, Idaho
Those looking for a shorter day trip should consider Caldwell, which is a mere 30 minutes from the heart of Boise. This college town is home to two institutions of higher learning and boasts numerous annual festivals, including the well-attended Winter Wonderland Festival. The downtown area is also a draw for visitors with its eclectic assortment of shops.
The AgVenture Trail is another must-see while in Caldwell. The opportunities for adventure seem endless with this attraction, with the chance to pick produce and learn how to make cheese. Visitors can also take care of farm animals and enjoy a “farm-to-fork” meal at one of the local eateries.
4. The City of Rocks
Those looking for a longer day trip from Boise needn’t look any further than the City of Rocks, which is about two and a half hours away. The City of Rocks spans just over 14,000 acres and boasts rock climbing, hunting and hiking in the midst of the Albion Mountains. It is a national preserve that has interesting granite formations and a visitor center that boasts tips for visitors on ways to get the most out of their experience.
One of the reasons this preserve is so attractive to adventurers is because it is comprised of backcountry trails that beg exploration. Even though there is a large expanse of backcountry, there are components of the trail that are easy enough for novice hikers to enjoy short jaunts on it.
5. Hailey, Idaho
Hailey is an ideal day trip for those looking to explore an interesting small town that boasts a combination of outdoors adventures and down-home hospitality. Hailey is known for having 250 days of sunshine annually, which means visitors can engage in everything from kayaking and whitewater rafting to mountain biking and rock climbing. The Central Idaho Rocky Mountains are on full display here, which means sweeping mountain vistas.
Sun Valley Resort is situated nearby, which is one of the most popular resorts in the region for skiing and snowboarding. The Wood River Valley trail is another must-see attraction, spanning 20 miles through various towns in the area and boasting pockets of greenspaces and historical markers. It is also a good place to cross-country ski for those that want to traverse large swaths of land.
6. Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
Bird lovers will find that this day trip out of Boise is one of the best places to see a wide array of species. From hawks to eagles to owls and more, this preserve has more nesting birds of prey than just about anywhere else in the country.
This attraction boasts very few undisturbed areas, which means that visitors have a good chance of seeing birds in their natural habitats. It is important to note, however, that the birds are not put on display for visitors. Rather, they are encouraged to bring along with them binoculars to see clearly. The best time to visit is early in the morning or at dusk.
Nampa is another short day-trip from Boise and is situated in the middle of Wine Country. In fact, there are more than 50 different wineries around the Nampa area. It is considered part of the Boise metro area, but has a personality all its own. However, this means that the town has many of the amenities common in a bigger city.
One of the reasons this is an ideal destination is because it attracts foodies. There are numerous local restaurants using fresh local ingredients found here. The Nampa Farmers Market is a popular attractions in Nampa, and there is a constant offering of concerts and rodeos providing entertainment.
The Warhawk Air Museum is another attraction popular among visitors in Nampa. The train depot and Lake Lowell are also must-see attractions in Nampa, underscoring the diversity of options offered in this small town.
Before you embark on your day trip of choice, sign up for a tire subscription service to ensure that your tires are in good shape before you hit the road. This will help avoid any issues with damaged tires or blow-outs while you are on the road.