Idaho, the northwestern state of the US, nestled amongst the rocky mountains, whitewater rivers, and a leafy paradise of forests, is famous for its stupendous National Parks. Bordered by the Rocky Mountains and bisected by the Boise River, Idaho is a woody heaven for any nature enthusiast. Look at the creaking branches of the ancient trees at the Yellowstone, walk on the leaf-carpeted paths of Grand Teton, or soak in the solar-silver isolation of Craters of the Moon, each of the Idaho National Parks will enchant your mind and soul forever by its lush greenery and opulence. The jewels of wilderness, all the National Parks in Idaho are a treat to the eyes. Here I’m listing some of the best soul-soothing forests of Idaho that you must keep on your bucket list.
1. Sawtooth National Forest
Located in the heart of Idaho, Sawtooth National Forest is where you will surely be captivated by the spell of pristine natural surroundings. The forest is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and covers an area of 730,864 acres in Idaho. Most of the Sawtooth National Forest Area is largely glaciated. You will find the forest as a pack of glacial lakes, mountains, and valleys. The cloud-kissing peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains and the Salmon River which is famously called the “River of No Return” create a magical atmosphere in the forest. The wildlife in the forest includes grizzly bears, timber wolves, and bull trout. If you look at the national parks in Idaho map, you will find it as one of the most stunning places.
Nearest City: Sun Valley
Best Time to Visit: June to July for wildflowers and December to January for snow.
Activities: Kayaking, rafting, camping, and hiking
2. Boise National Forest
Sprawling over an area of 2,203,703 acres of Idaho’s capital city Boise, the Boise National Forest is a perfect blend of dense forest and shimmering grassland. This gorgeous national park is visited by around 1.5 million people. The proximity of 2,800 feet of North Fork Payette River Canyon and the magnificent Trinity Mountain make the forest look straight out of a picture postcard. In addition to the mountainous landscapes, the forest offers over 500 hiking trails. The coniferous evergreen forests are dominated by the flora like the western larch and broadleaf trees and fauna like deer, elk, bear, mountain goat, and wolves. The Boise National Forest Camping is one of the famous activities. There are over 70 campgrounds in the forest offering a peaceful time in the lap of nature.
Nearest City: Boise
Best Time to Visit: March to May for outdoor activities and December to January for skiing.
Activities: Snowshoeing (in winter), kayaking, rafting, cross-country skiing, hiking, and biking.
3. Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Home to over 25 volcanic cones, the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve National Park Idaho is one of the unique places to visit in Idaho. Located in South Central Idaho, this national park features some of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the United States. There are three major lava fields in the park that reach to the southeast of the Pioneer Mountain. Trees dare not grow on the rugged landscape of these lava beds. However, you can surely find some small plants in the area such as antelope bitterbrush and sagebrush. The national monument was established here in 1924 by President Clinton. Take a Boise to Crater of the Moon trip while in Idaho.
Nearest City: Boise, Sun Valley
Best Time to Visit: Early May to Late August
Activities: Camping, Caving, Hiking.
4. City of Rocks National Reserve
The heart-touching melody of the wind that goes through the rocky terrain of “Silent City of Rocks” is truly an elixir for the mind. Featuring thousands of bolt-protected routes and one-of-a-kind rock spires, the City of Rocks National Reserve Trails are best to experience. The reserve covers an area of 14,000 acres and located on the south end of Albion Mountains. Also listed as one of the state parks in Idaho, the City of Rocks National Reserve is a Mecca for adventure junkies. The wildlife of the park includes amphibians like the boreal toad and northern leopard frog, birds like hawk, vulture, owl, and sparrows, and mammals like mule deer, coyote, chipmunk, and bats. You will get more information on these at City of Rocks National Reserve Visitor Center.
Nearest City: Oakley
Best Time to Visit: Mid-April to Mid-October
Activities: Rock climbing, camping, hunting, hiking
5. Yellowstone National Park
Although only a small part of the Yellowstone National Park comes under the state of Idaho, it is considered as one of the important parts of Idaho National Parks map. Yellowstone National Park Idaho has an abundance of beauty to comfort anyone’s heart. The gushing waterfalls, idiosyncratic geysers, soothing thermal pools, and gushing waterfalls create a never-to-be-forgotten atmosphere in the park. Yellowstone has its western gate from Idaho while most of its part comes in Wyoming National Parks and the National Parks in Montana. Some of the best attractions inside the park are the Lower Falls, Old Faithful, and Grand Prismatic. You will witness a number of wild boars, buffaloes, moose, and bears while enjoying the fresh forest fragrance of Yellowstone.
Nearest City: Gardiner (Montana), Island Park (Idaho)
Best Time to Visit: April to May and September to November
Activities: Rafting, paddling, hiking, wildlife tours, camping, horseback riding
I hope this list of National Parks in Idaho has presented a mystical and spellbinding picture of Idaho’s natural treasure. So, when are you heading to Idaho for a magical experience?
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