One of the most inspiring states in America for natural beauty is Idaho, where landscapes can include eye-pleasing adornments like mountains, deserts, canyons, waterfalls and countless springs. Here are some top attractions in what is fittingly nicknamed The Gem State:
1. Fish the Snake
Rent a canoe or rowboat in Twin Falls and fish Snake River Canyon, especially below Shoshone Falls where 35 native fish species make their home. Also paddle to just north of Twin Falls to view Perrine Bridge, which spans the Snake and ranks as the most popular BASE jumping bridge in the world.
2. Admire the Egyptian
Catch an old film, play or concert at The Egyptian Theatre, which opened in 1927 and is known for its décor and great sight lines. The Boise landmark is one of the last single-screen theaters in America, and its unique Egyptian-themed architecture includes gilded scarabs, sun disks, cornices and columns.
3. Experience SpinCycle
Take the family to Silverwood Theme Park & Boulder Beach Waterpark, located minutes north of Coeur d’Alene. Thrill rides have names like Aftershock, Corkscrew, Panic Plunge and Tremors, and the most popular is a 104-foot-tall SpinCycle ride that rotates while swinging like a giant pendulum at 3 1/2 times the normal gravitational pull.
4. Go Blue
Get rowdy during an autumn football game at the unusual sports setting known as Albertsons Stadium, home to Boise State University. Often referred to as Bronco Stadium after the BSU team nickname, Albertsons seats 36,000 spectators and is renowned for having the only blue Astroturf football field in the world.
5. Meander at the Moon
Drive along a seven-mile loop on U.S. Highway 20 between Arco and Carey to witness Craters of the Moon National Monument, a huge volcanic lava field that offers excellent opportunities for adventure hiking. The rock-hard black lava has produced incredible sagebrush grasslands, and a visitor’s center offers free maps as well as tour advice from an expert staff.
6. Watch Eagles Soar
Learn about wild raptors at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. An onsite Velma Morrison Interpretive Center is an indoor/outdoor education complex that provides close-up views of eagles, falcons, hawks, owls and vultures, and a 1/4-mile walking trail is also ideal for watching the large birds fly.
7. Peruse the Penitentiary
Tour any of 14 buildings that make up Old Idaho State Penitentiary, a former prison in Boise that functioned from 1872-1973. Highlights include solitary confinement cells called Siberia and a Women’s Ward constructed in 1905. Also on display are guard weapons, a hanging gallows, license plate shop and more.
8. Gaze at Grizzlies
Fewer animal sightings are being reported these days at nearby Yellowstone Park, so stop by Zoo Idaho to view creatures native to the Intermountain West region. The Pocatello attraction has more than 100 animals such as antelope, bison, cougars, coyotes, deer, eagles, falcons, grizzly bears, owls and more.