11 Best State Parks In Idaho (2023)
Idaho is a stunning state full of rugged wilderness, and its stunning state parks are the perfect places to take in all of its beauty. From towering mountains to lush forests, Idaho’s state parks offer an array of outdoor activities and breathtaking views. And with over 11 state parks to choose from on this list, you can be sure that there’s something for everyone.
From the unique wildlife to the spectacular scenery, Idaho’s state parks have a lot to offer. You can explore a variety of trails, take in gorgeous lakeside views, or just relax and take in nature’s beauty. Whether you’re looking for a short-day trip or a multi-day camping adventure, you can do it all here.
So let’s explore further to learn about the 11 best state parks in Idaho.
Bear Lake State Park
Nestled in the Cache mountain range is the beautiful Bear Lake State Park, a popular destination for water lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. With about 15,000 campers visiting annually, this park has something for everyone – from fishing and paddlesports to biking and bird watching.
At 20 miles long and 8 miles wide, half of Bear Lake lies in Idaho and the other half in Utah. Its intense turquoise-colored water has earned it the title of “Caribbean of the Rockies”. Whether you’re a boater or a swimmer, you’ll love spending your days on its crystal clear waters. Plus, there are several serviced and standard campsites available for groups as large as 50 people.
Castle Rocks State Park
When it comes to outdoor escapes, Castle Rocks State Park in Idaho is an absolute must. This captivating park has a unique landscape that dates back 2.5 million years, making it perfect for rock climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, and even horseback riders alike.
It’s also rich with history, containing remnants of Native American pictographs, historic trail crossings, and 20th-century ranching that are all visible in the park today. Plus, its thousands of routes make it a dream destination for climbers from around the world! And with evidence suggesting that folks have been coming to Castle Rocks for nearly 9,000 years, you can bet there are plenty of places to explore.
For those looking to stay overnight and really immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty, there are campsites nestled among Idaho’s largest pinyon pine forest on the east slope of the 7,500-foot Smoky Mountain. However if camping isn’t your thing, yurts and RVs are also available for rent.
Beyond hiking and climbing trails, Castle Rocks provides plenty of other activities such as bird watching, disc golfing, fishing (loaner rods available too!), snowshoeing, and more. There’s even an Experience Idaho Backpacks program that helps visitors get started on their first outdoor adventure.
Dworshak State Park
If you’re looking for an outdoor escape, a visit to Dworshak State Park in Lenore is sure to do the trick. Set among trees and meadows on the western shore of Dworshak Reservoir, this park offers plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. Camping, boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, waterskiing, and disc golf are just some of the many options.
The Freeman Creek Campground in this park is a camper’s dream come true with standard and serviced campsites, camper cabins, tent campsites overlooking the reservoir, reservable boat slips, and small group camps. In addition to all the activities mentioned above, archery, playgrounds, volleyball courts and horseshoes are also available. A boat ramp and handling dock make it easy to launch your day on the lake most of the year with a fish-cleaning station nearby for your catch of the day.
Farragut State Park
When it comes to outdoor fun, Farragut State Park in Idaho is one of the best places to be. Originally a World War II-era naval training station, this 4,000-acre park now provides a variety of camping opportunities and recreational activities.
From fishing and hiking to bird watching and horseback riding, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here. And if you’re interested in history, don’t miss out on the Museum at the Brig for a unique glimpse into what life was like during the war. You can also explore the remains of the training base, which was named after David Farragut – the first admiral in the U.S. Navy and leading officer of the Civil War.
In addition to all its natural beauty and history, Farragut State Park also offers other amenities such as disc golfing, radio-controlled airplane field sailing, snowshoeing, swimming, and more.
Hells Gate State Park
Hells Gate State Park is the perfect destination for outdoor adventure seekers. Located in Lewiston, this park offers an abundance of activities in a stunning backdrop of basaltic columns from the Pomona flows 14 million years ago. And with its low elevation of 733 feet above sea level, you can expect to enjoy warm weather for most of the year.
This park has something for everyone. Whether you’re a first-time adventurer or an experienced one, you’ll find plenty to do here – from biking and boating to fishing, horseback riding, and bird-watching. There’s also a Hard Path Trail if you’re looking for something more challenging. And if you’re feeling curious about the park’s history, there are learning opportunities available too!
The area was once home to a Nez Perce village, though its remnants are now hard to come by. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still exist – visit the south end of the campground and look out for depressions in the ground – these were formerly pit houses used by Nez Perce people as they fished for lamprey near Asotin Creek.
Lake Walcott State Park
If you’re looking for a great water and wildlife refuge in Idaho, Lake Walcott State Park is the place to be. This lush, canopied park offers plenty of activities that are perfect for visitors of all ages.
Enjoy the great outdoors with activities like biking, disc golfing (on their world-class 21-hole course!), fishing, hiking, horseshoe pits, and bird-watching. If you’re feeling adventurous, take part in the Experience Idaho Backpacks program or Junior Ranger program – both offer unique ways to explore the beauty of Idaho’s high desert. And if you need to relax, there are plenty of opportunities for picnicking, swimming, and kayaking on Lake Walcott.
For those looking to stay overnight, the park has several fully serviced campsites and cabins available as well as some primitive sites along the water’s edge.
Lucky Peak State Park
No matter what your ideal way to spend your summer is, Lucky Peak State Park in Boise has something for you. Located just a 10-minute drive from downtown Boise or a 30-minute bike ride on the scenic Boise River Greenbelt, this state park is the perfect place for outdoor activities.
Take a dip at Sandy Point beach, with its cool and clear waters, or bring your family and dogs to Discovery Park for a picnic. If water sports are more your thing, head over to Spring Shores Marina which offers motorized boating opportunities, boat ramps, ample parking facilities, a full-service marina, watercraft rentals, and a convenience store.
The park also has plenty of other activities such as biking, bird watching, disc golfing, fishing, hiking, horseshoe pits, and more. And don’t forget the Junior Ranger program which is great for kids who want to learn more about Lucky Peak State Park while they have fun!
Massacre Rocks State Park
For a unique and memorable outdoor experience, look no further than Massacre Rocks State Park in American Falls. This park is packed with year-round recreation options and is steeped in history. Explore miles of hiking trails to discover plant and bird species, remnants of the Oregon Trail, and geological wonders like Devil’s Gate Pass – the remains of an extinct volcano.
If you’re a climber or a disc golfer, this is your paradise. Rock climbers will find plenty of routes to enjoy, while disc golfers can challenge themselves on one of the most difficult courses in Idaho. There’s also kayaking and fishing (with loaner rods), plus biking, bird watching, and camping opportunities too!
Massacre Rocks State Park is also home to Register Rock where emigrant names are inscribed. Pay respect to the travelers who went through this area centuries ago as you explore the desert oasis surrounding it. Whether you’re coming for a day or staying for a few nights, there’s something for everyone here.
Priest Lake State Park
If you’re looking for a peaceful outdoor escape, look no further than Priest Lake State Park in Coolin. Nestled close to the Canadian border and deep below the Selkirk Mountains, this park is surrounded by natural splendor.
Priest Lake itself is 19 miles long and 300 feet deep, with crystal clear water fed by streams cascading from the high Selkirk peaks. Surrounding the lake is an abundance of dense forests including cedar, fir, and tamarack trees that are a sight to behold. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like whitetail deer, black bears, moose, and bald eagles year-round.
The park offers plenty of activities to enjoy such as biking, bird watching, boating (motorized or otherwise), camping, cross-country skiing, disc golf, Experience Idaho Backpacks program for first-time adventurers, fishing, hiking trails and horseshoe pits. In addition to all that there are paddlesports (kayaks available), RVing/boating/sailing options as well as snowmobile and snowshoeing activities.
Thousand Springs State Park
Experience the Magic Valley of southern Idaho at Thousand Springs State Park. This park is divided into six units, each of which offers a unique experience, allowing visitors to explore the Oregon Trail at the Kelton Trail; hike and picnic at Malad Gorge; fish and view wildlife at Billingsley Creek; step back in time and tour historic agricultural structures at Ritter Island; hike in Box Canyon Nature Preserve and watch bald eagles; or picnic and teach kids to fish at Niagara Springs.
This park offers a plethora of activities for all ages. Bike, go bird watching, cross-country skiing, disc golfing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and snowshoeing – you name it! For those looking to take a dip in nature, you can also enjoy swimming in one of the many springs on the park grounds.
Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
If you’re looking for a truly scenic outdoor escape, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Idaho is one of the most spectacular trails in the western US. Stretching for 73 miles on a smooth asphalt path, it’s perfect for cyclists, walkers, skiers, and those in wheelchairs. The trail meanders through historic Silver Valley and along the Coeur d’Alene River past Lake Coeur d’Alene and rolling farmlands before ending in Plummer. With twenty developed trailheads and twenty waysides with picnic tables, there are plenty of places to stop and take in all the natural beauty.
The Trail was named one of the 25 top trails in the nation by Rails to Trails Conservancy back in 2010. In addition to sightseeing and picnicking, visitors can also enjoy activities such as biking, bird watching, fishing, cross-country skiing and hiking. There’s so much history to explore here that you could spend days wandering along its path.