Idaho’s rugged natural beauty and quiet, family-friendly towns make it a wonderful place to visit. Although there are many Idaho cabin rentals available in well-known areas and larger cities, one of the best ways to experience this stunning state is by staying in a cabin in a smaller community. Here are seven great towns to check out if you’re planning a trip to Idaho.

1. Lava Hot Springs

hot springs
Source: Flickr / fishermansdaughter

If you like spending time in the water, look for a cabin rental in Lava Hot Springs. This town is named for its large, natural hot springs, which you can soak comfortably in all year. It is also home to a popular water park that features an Olympic-sized pool, an indoor water play area with splash pads and an aquatic climbing wall. During the summer, you can also slide down the outdoor water slides or go tubing on the Portneuf River, which runs through town. There are two golf courses nearby, and the town hosts a free historical museum. You can also hike or bike the Portneuf Mountains that surround the town.

2. Island Park

snow forest
Source: Flickr / MotoWebMistress

For a wilder experience, head over to the historic mountain town of Island Park. This quirky town lies in the center of a volcanic caldera, which gives it a unique geographical look. It is surrounded by the Targhee National Forest, so there’s plenty of hiking, biking, and snowmobile trails nearby. It’s also only about half an hour away from Yellowstone National Park, so is a great place to stay if you want to make a few trips to that famous park. The town is fairly spread out and tends to have a rustic style, so expect to find plenty of log cabins and mountain cottages as you search for your vacation rental.

3. McCall

lake night
Source: Flickr / Linda Paul

With three separate ski resorts located nearby, McCall is one of the premier winter sports destinations in Idaho. You can hit the slopes at Brundage Mountain, Little Ski Hill, or Tamarack Resort. The town also hosts a popular Winter Carnival that involves live music, snow sculpture competitions, parades, and more. During the summer, you can hike or bike the trails of Ponderosa State Park, relax on the shores of Davis Beach, or kayak on Payette Lake. This mountain town is a popular destination, so plan to book your vacation rental well in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the Winter Carnival.

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4. Priest Lake

river trees
Source: Flickr / B.D.’s World

Nestled in the Selkirk mountains lies the small community of Priest Lake. This mountain town is rural and quiet, with plenty of wood cabins and historic buildings. It is named for the massive, clear mountain lake that lies nearby and is a popular draw for kayakers, boaters, and fishermen. Priest Lake State Park also includes plenty of trails to explore. You can hike or bike during the summer, or explore by cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling during the winter. Locals in this area are particularly fond of the abundant huckleberries that grow in the park, and tourists are encouraged to hike in and pick some to give them a try.

5. Stanley

river mountains
Source: Flickr / Katja Schulz

Known as the Gateway to the Sawtooth Wilderness, the small mountain town of Stanley is a great base location for your outdoor adventure. River rafting on the Salmon River is a particularly popular summer activity, and there are plenty of trails to explore. During the winter, cross-country skiing is popular. There are also several trail systems designed for Nordic skiing. The area is also home to several well-maintained ghost towns, including Custer, which has a historic cemetery and old gold mining equipment. Head into town to see frequent live music shows at the Redfish Lake Lodge, or simply relax and watch the incredible views and abundant wildlife from your vacation rental porch.

6. Cascade

house mountains
Source: Flickr / Richard Bauer

Cascade combines the convenience of a city with the beauty and peacefulness of a mountain town. Located near Lake Cascade, this charming town has live music, shopping, and fine dining available. During the winter, it draws visitors interested in backcountry skiing or alpine skiing at nearby Tamarack Resort or Brundage Mountain. There are also numerous natural hot springs in the area, with Gold Fork Hot Springs being one of the most popular. During the summer, boating and fishing on Lake Cascade or rafting down the Salmon River are popular activities. If you’re a history buff, there are also several museums and ghost towns in the area, including the dramatically named Thunder Mountain.

7. Salmon

lake fishing
Source: Flickr / BLMIdaho

Visiting Salmon feels a bit like stepping back into history. This scenic valley was the home of Sacajawea, who guided explorers Lewis and Clark across the area. There are several historic sites commemorating this, including the Sacajawea Interpretative Center and an expedition campsite. The town is nestled in Salmon-Challis National Forest, one of the largest national forests outside of Alaska. A particularly popular hike is the Goldbug Hot Springs Trail, which has a lovely waterfall and rewards you at the end by letting you soak in a natural hot spring. The city itself offers restaurants, shopping, and other activities to explore from your vacation rental.

 
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