Idaho consists largely of small towns, rolling farmland, alpine forests, and wooded mountains, making it the ultimate destination for an outdoor getaway during any season. When you book a Boise vacation rental as your home base for the weekend, you’ll be situated within driving distance of plentiful charming cities and towns. Here are a few of the top weekend getaway spots from Boise.
1. McCall, Idaho
Just over two hours north of Boise, McCall is all that’s wild and beautiful in Idaho with its forested mountains and crystal clear lake waters. Get a vacation rental along Payette Lake to swim and boat all weekend. If none are available, you can get water access from Ponderosa State Park. Plus, this park offers great views of the area. Backwoods Adventures Canoe and Kayak Rental, located at the junction of the lake and the North Fork Payette River, offers paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. Exploring the river via boat is a great way to see the local wildlife, from moose and elk to otters and eagles. Take advantage of McCall’s location on the borders of Payette National Forest by doing a little hiking. Loon Lake is a mountain lake sitting amidst the splendor and solitude of the mountains. Head to Burgdorf Hot Springs for a nice soak, nature’s superior spa experience. Finish off with a scenic drive around the lake. Warren Wagon Road on the lake’s west side and the East Side Road on the east hug the banks for a close-up view of the natural beauty.
2. Salmon, Idaho
Located in the Bitterroot National Forest five hours northeast of Boise, Salmon is one of the area’s hidden gems with access to both mountains and rivers. Go whitewater rafting down Salmon River with Idaho Adventure River Trip, ROW Adventures, Aggipah River Trips, or Silver Cloud Expeditions. Explore the national forest and mountains on horseback with Rawhide Outfitters, which offers anything from a few hours to several days’ worth of adventure. While in town, explore the local Native American heritage with Agaidika Gathering Heritage Days at the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural & Educational Center. If you don’t visit during the annual late-summer festival, the center puts on events regularly along with year-round exhibits and activities.
3. Bruneau, Idaho
Bruneau lies just one hour southeast from Boise in the solitude of the Bruneau Dunes State Park, a quick weekend trip not far from home. Hike the sand dunes surrounding Dunes Lake and the rim of Bruneau Canyon. In fact, Bruneau Dunes State Park is the home of the tallest sand dune on the continent at 470 feet. Stop at the Bruneau Dunes State Park Observatory, which boasts a human sundial. This is also a great place to star gaze, fly kites, and dune ski with all necessary equipment for rental at the Visitor Center. While exploring, keep an eye out for interesting wildlife, such as coyotes, kestrels, and lizards. Cool off in the Bruneau Arm Lake.
4. Lowman, Idaho
Lowman, a rural mountain community just under two hours to the northeast of Boise, is on the borders of the Salmon-Challis and Sawtooth National Forests. From your vacation rental, you can hike up and over to Bear Valley Hot Springs for a dip in the bubbling pool, or go on a longer journey to Sawtooth, Alpine, or Redfish Lakes. Wade in the cool water and indulge in a picnic lunch before making your way home. Complete your relaxing vacay with some fishing with Salmon River Anglers.
5. Stanley, Idaho
Stanley is a very small town located three hours to the northeast of Boise in a valley within the Sawtooth National Forest. The Redfish Lake is just down the road, a great starting place for several hikes, such as the Redfish Inlet Trail, Trail 045, and Trail 101. Enjoy some sand and sun, even in the mountains, at Orval Hansen Point Beach. There’s even a boat ramp so you can launch your watercraft for a day of fun. Spend some downtime browsing the Stanley Museum, a small establishment all about local history and ecology.
6. Nampa, Idaho
Nampa, 30 minutes west of Boise, is Idaho’s wine country with nearly a dozen wineries and vineyards. Go on a wine-tasting tour starting with Weston Winery and making your way around Lake Lowell, hitting Huston Vineyards, Fujishin Family Cellars, Sawtooth Winery, Hells Canyon Winery, and Scoria Vineyards as you go. If that’s not enough, Nampa abuts Lake Lowell and Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge offers a great bowfishing spot, the Kingfisher Trail that meanders along the wooded shore, and a boat launch. Stroll down the historic downtown area, enjoy the history, and view the Celebration Park Indian art.
7. Joseph, Oregon
Cross the border to Joseph, Oregon, a four-hour drive to the northwest. This little town, named after Native American Chief Joseph, celebrates its history with the Old Chief Joseph Grave Site and the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Area. Tour the historical sites, and walk the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. While you’re in the walking mood, take the Bronze Artwalk around the downtown area or, if you’d prefer to explore effortlessly, ride the Wallowa Lake Tramway over the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway takes you through the most scenic areas and quaint Oregon towns.
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