5 Best Idaho Adventures to Add to Your Bucket List

This article is being written for two reasons: the first is to encourage your adventurous spirit. To spur you on to go places, to experience this world, and live a really full life. The second reason: is to help you add things to your list. Specifically, some incredible Idaho adventures. 

  1. Rafting Middle Fork of the Salmon River
  2. Drive Highway 12 and soak in the natural hot springs along the way
  3. Mountain Bike in Sun Valley
  4. Backpack in the Sawtooth Mountains
  5. Ski Tamarack Resort

Everyone has a bucket list, right? Even if it’s not a tangible, written-down list, most everyone has something of the sort in the back of their minds. Some avoid the word “bucket list” and just refer to it as “things I want to do before I die,” or “what I want to do before I’m 50.” Regardless, it’s difficult to exist as a human in this life, and not long to experience things that are bigger than yourself. 

Idaho often gets confused with the states of Iowa and Ohio. However, it does not take anyone more than three seconds in Idaho to realize that it definitely should not be confused with the midwestern states. In fact, It really shouldn’t be compared with any state in the lower 48 at all. The vast wilderness of Idaho is the largest in the U.S. (not counting Alaska) and it is filled with world-class white water rafting, great mountain ranges, untouched spaces, creatures of all kinds, and so much more than your heart could even imagine. 

So, if the state of Idaho itself isn’t yet on your bucket list, it really should be. If it is on your bucket list, here is our list of the best 5 Idaho adventures to add to your bucket list.

The 5 Best Idaho Adventures

1. Raft the Middle Fork Salmon River 

Idaho Adventures - White Water Rafting
If you’re the kind of person who is always craving an epic adventure, Salmon River whitewater rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is exactly what you need to fulfill that desire. Whitewater enthusiasts from all over travel to Idaho to spend time on the infamous Middle Fork, that’s known for its continuous whitewater, impeccable fishing, and guaranteed awe-inspiring views. The river flows through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness that is filled with epic backcountry trail systems, natural hot springs, rich habitats, and hundreds of thousands of protected wilderness. 

Simply put, the Middle Fork Salmon River is the kind of place that you dream of. It’s wild and it’s magic and it’s worth seeing and experiencing with your own eyes. As far as whitewater rafting the Middle Fork goes, the rapids are rated class III and IV level of difficulty, and they attract whitewater athletes of all skill levels, including first-timers. 

At Idaho River Adventures, we offer a variety of all-inclusive, 6-day rafting trips. The different trips that you can choose from include: A guided Salmon River fishing trip, music and rafting trip, boutique wine and rafting trip, and a classic river experience. All trips are accompanied by world-class guides and the best riverside chefs in the game. 


2. Drive Highway 12 and Soak in the Natural Hot Springs along the way

Adventure to Idaho Hot Springs
I may be a little biased on this one, but I grew up driving this route to visit family in Washington State, and it’s still a drive and experience that I crave. The route follows the mighty Lochsa River and is the epitome of a long and winding road. The route is lined with evergreens and full of unique and captivating places to stop, go on a hike, or dip your feet in the river. 

Some of the more popular spots to stop while driving highway 12 are the trailheads that lead to natural hot springs. Some of the hot springs are close to the road, others are a bit of a hike, both are worth a stop. There’s just nothing quite like soaking in a hot spring, while being surrounded by nothing but forest, wildlife, and natural beauty. 

I’m not going to tell you about my favorite spots to soak, that’s a secret!. You’ll just have to do some of your own exploring along the way. But I’ll tell you a secret: that’s half the fun of this Idaho adventure. 


3. Mountain Bike in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Mountain Biking in Idaho
If you’ve already caught the bug for mountain biking, and even if you haven’t caught the bug yet, Sun Valley Idaho will not disappoint. With over 400 miles of single track, some of the most fantastic terrain, and a whole lot of sunshine, Sun Valley Resort should be on your bucket list. 

The abundant trail systems in Sun Valley cater to all skill levels. From green trails to blacks, everyone is guaranteed to be challenged and have a whole lot of fun along the way. If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry! There are opportunities to rent or demo a bike, as well as a lift service for enduro riders. It’s overall top notch riding for everyone. 

Adrenaline junkies flock year after year to Sun Valley, and it’s city itself is worth the stop. Unique breweries, restaurants, and nightlife all add to the Sun Valley experience.  


4. Backpack in the Sawtooth Mountains

Backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains
The first time I took some friends from the midwest on a backpacking trip, they all could not stop talking about how much they loved the way they were forced to be present, while attempting to swallow the beauty that surrounded them. 

The Sawtooth Mountains are so captivating that they cause even the fittest to lose their breath. They are abundant in steep granite walls, rich habitats, huckleberries galore, and the kind of summits that make you drool. There are so many possibilities in the Sawtooth mountains. If you’re just desiring a short, day hike, they have them! If you want to do a longer backpacking trip, there’s plenty of opportunity. 

Regardless of the amount of time you spend in the Sawtooth Mountains, be sure to review LNT protocall, carry bear spray, and be proactive with water supply before you venture into the wilderness. The best time to backpack in the Sawtooths is July to mid-September. 

5. Ski Tamarack Resort

Skiing in Idaho
For those of you who love getting the most out of the winter, Tamarack Resort is the gem that you’ve been hoping to find. There are plenty of incredible mountains to ski in Idaho, but this one deserves to be on the list. 

Tamarack Resort is for sure smaller than some of your major mountains, but it’s just as fun. With a vertical drop of 2800 feet, seven lifts, three terrain parks, an average of 300 inches of snow, and some of the best powder in Idaho, you’ll have the time of your life skiing this resort. Tamarack is perfect for the family, and a great location to have on the radar for years to come. 

If you’re more of a summer person, Tamarack is perfect for a number of outdoor adventures - mountain biking, hiking, ziplining, and more. 

So, what Idaho adventures will you add to your bucket list?

Emily Knittel is a Montana based writer, mountain biker, and self-proclaimed professional hype girl. With a degree in Journalism, and an unshakable love for the outdoors, Emily writes to encourage a life of whimsy and adventure.

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