Boise is a wonderful city and as a local Boisian, I’m always on the hunt for day trips from Boise and doable road trips from Boise. The good news about the area is that there are plenty of incredible road trips surrounding the city and some pretty amazing day trips from Boise to explore.
Just a road trip away, you’ll find beautiful mountains, natural hot springs, sand dunes, rivers, lakes, and other interesting geological sites. Because I love a good road trip—especially one from my own town—I wanted to round up the best road trips from Boise Idaho and show you how you can experience the beautifully rugged, wild, and sometimes quirky terrain of Idaho for yourself!
Some of these road trips are short, even less than an hour, while others are 4+ hours and perfect if you’re ready for a good drive.
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Many people from Boise think of Bogus Basin as just part of Boise, but it can definitely be a road trip in itself! Bogus Basin is a mountain area with an elevation of 7,600 feet. In the winter, Bogus Basin is a recreational ski area and in the summer it’s a great escape from the summer heat.
In the summer there are plenty of great things to do like day hiking, riding the mountain coaster, taking a mountain yoga class, horseback riding, mountain biking, or attending one of the many festivals that take place up there. No matter what, there are plenty of great activities to do at Bogus Basin in the summertime.
In the winter, Bogus Basin turns into a winter wonderland where you can hit the slopes, tube, snowshoe, and cross country ski. It’s also very kid-friendly if you’re traveling with your kids. Ski passes run around $70 for a full day. See current prices here.
You can even stay the night up here at the Pioneer Condominiums which are especially great if you want to ski and ski out! Bogus Basin is the perfect road trip from Boise if you don’t want too much driving time, but want to feel like you’re still getting out of town.
2) Idaho Wine Country
Distance: 32 miles, 30-40 minute drive from Boise
Did you know Idaho has a wine country? Many people don’t realize this until they come to visit. There are in fact over 17+ wineries scattering the Sunnyslope Wine area. It takes about 30-40 minutes to get out here from Boise and is the perfect day trip activity. Most of the wineries are located on the outskirts of Caldwell, Marsing, and Homedale in Canyon County.
See some of my favorite wineries here and the newest favorite that isn’t listed, Kerry Hill Winery! If you’d rather not drive, I highly recommend going with Snake River Wine Tours. Their tour is excellent and includes lunch, a knowledgeable local guide, a great sprinter van, and plenty of snacks. They are my favorite tour in Boise!
Interested in a little spooky history? Why not hit up two of Idaho’s ghost towns! Idaho City is an old mining and gold rush town located about a 50-minute drive from Boise. It was once the capital of Idaho and the largest city in the Northwest. Once you visit, it might be hard to believe this town used to be bustling!
I recommend taking a walk through the Idaho City Historic District. You’ll find the old pest house (jail), trading post, county courthouse, some old markets and shops, and the museum. You can also head for a burger and beer at Diamond Lil’s, go for a hike around Idaho City and then soak off the soreness at the Springs at Idaho City, a locally owned hot spring. See my full recommendations on a day trip to Idaho City here.
Silver City on the other hand is 2 hours from Boise and tucked away near the Owyhee mountains. There are a few families that still live in Silver City, but it’s considered a true ghost town and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Silver City was founded in the 1800s as a silver mining town and was at one point considered one of the bigger towns in Idaho.
Many people recommend staying at the Idaho Hotel that has been revamped to its former glory 100 years ago, but some also say it’s also haunted. Stay here at your own risk!
4) The Famous Idaho Potato Hotel and Bruneau Sand Dunes – 61.8 miles, 1-hour drive from Boise
The famous Idaho Potato Hotel is a funky Airbnb lover’s dream! It’s located in Mountain Home (30-minutes from Boise) and it is technically not a hotel. Don’t let the name or maps fool you. You’ll find it on the way to Bruneau Dunes if you take a quick detour. Google Maps doesn’t give the best instructions, so just be sure you’re going to the one near Mountain Home and not the one that says it’s in Boise.
This is the only true potato hotel in the United States and used to be the potato that the Big Idaho Potato Truck would use on their famous Idaho potato tour of the USA. Even if you don’t stay the night, it’s a fun one to drive by and look at. Just be aware, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, but worth getting to feed Dolly the cow on-site.
Bruneau Dunes State Parkon the other hand is one of the most unique spots we have in Idaho, in my opinion! It’s basically sprawling land with huge sand dunes in the middle of the desert and is only an hour on the freeway from Boise.
Many people love to bring sand boards and board down the sand, camp here, stargaze, or just hike around the dunes. I recommend going to the visitors center to figure out your options and then hiking up the small dune for some great views. There is also an amazing place to stargaze and see the Milky Way at the Bruneau Dunes Observatory. The observatory is open to the public from early April through mid-October on Friday and Saturday nights only.
5) Cascade, Warm Lake, Donnelly, and McCall – 70 miles, 1.40 hour – 2.30-hour drive from Boise
Want to truly experience the Boise National Forest and the Payette National Forest all in one road trip from Boise? Make your way north from Boise on what is known as the Payette River Scenic Byway. The windy roads can make some people nauseous, but the forest scenery, winding Payette river, and mountains in the distance are beautiful and will make this the perfect road trip.
Cascade and Warm Lake, Idaho
You’ll first come upon Cascade, Idaho, a quirky and cute little mountain town nestled up to the large Lake Cascade. See all of the fun things there are to do in Cascade in the winter. Itching for more of an adventure? Take a right at Warm Lake Road and drive 26 miles to the tiny town of Warm Lake, a truly hidden gem at a lake. This is the perfect spot for camping in the summer and outdoor activities in the winter. Trail Creek hot springs are also on the right side of the road as you’re driving down! Just be sure to pack out what you pack in and be respectful.
Lastly, after 20 minutes you’ll hit one of my favorite places in Idaho, the mountain town of McCall, Idaho. Located right on Payette Lake, this is one of the most popular spots for Idahoans to vacation and escape the city. I personally have been coming here since I was a kid and it’s one of my favorite places in the state. In the summer there are great alpine lakes to hike to, amazing water activities, and a fun little downtown to explore. In the winter there are winter sports galore and the popular Brundage Mountain Ski Resort.
6) Thousand Springs and Hagerman Fossil Beds – 96.4 miles, 1.15-hour drive from Boise
Talk about a hidden gem! Thousand Springs Reserve is one of those places that you just can’t forget. I grew up going here while growing up inTwin Falls, Idahoand it’s truly such a fun place to explore. Because it’s so close to the city of Twin Falls, you can always make that your home base or camp at Thousand Springs. I recommend camping here in the summer and then kayaking to Blue Heart Springs and Ritter Island from there. In this Thousand Springs guide, you’ll find my recommendations for what to do in Thousand Springs and why it’s so special.
7) Twin Falls, Snake River Canyon, and Shoshone Falls – 128 miles, 1.50-hour drive from Boise
Twin Falls is where I grew up for my entire life. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it was a very cool place back then, but now I think it’s got so much to see and do. The Snake River Canyon goes right through the town and there are amazing options for hiking, kayaking, and SUPing all the way down the Snake River to Shoshone Falls. For a guide on what to do in Twin Falls, check out my post here.
Just about 6 miles from downtown Twin Falls you’ll find the famous Shoshone Falls! This monster waterfall is 212 feet tall and 900 feet wide and surpasses the height of the famous Niagara Falls. It’s now been coined the “Niagara of the West”. In the spring the falls are huge and spew out tons of water, but you kind of need to time it right as the falls ‘turn off’ for irrigation and dry up in the winter.
9) Craters of the Moon National Monument – 170 miles, 2.40 hour drive from Boise
Want to feel like you’re on another planet? Mars perhaps? Come to Craters of the Moon. It’s a National Monument and Preserve filled with ancient volcanic lava flows, cinder cones, and not so ancient sagebrush. I recommend getting a little tour or just hiking around. It’s so interesting to learn about the different types of lava and crawl around the cave formations. It truly feels like you’re on a different planet!
10) Jackpot, Nevada – 176 miles, 2.40-hour drive from Boise
You know I had to throw this one in here. My 90-year old Grandma is a BIG fan of gambling in Jackpot, Nevada. Jackpot is essentially a tiny town on the border of Idaho and Nevada made just for gambling. There are 5 casinos, some hotels, and one public golf course. It’s also directly in the desert and can get pretty hot. But if you’re feeling like a winner, this is a great day trip or stop along the way if you want to keep the road trip going through Nevada.
11) Stanley and the Sawtooth National Forest – 133 miles, 2.45 hour drive from Boise
One of my favorite mountain towns in Idaho is Stanley, Idaho! Tucked up against the Sawtooth Mountains, it’s the perfect mountain retreat. You’ll find most of the activities to do here in the spring, summer, and fall. The town shuts down a bit as winter hits, but in the summer it’s incredible (minus the wildfire smoke during some months).
While here, you’ll want to check out Redfish Lake, go camping, hiking, rafting on the Salmon River, horseback riding, hot spring hunting, or check out one of the great little restaurants downtown.
The Sawtooth National Forest is an incredible part of Idaho. My favorite backpacking loop is the Alice Toxaway Loop. It’s gotten pretty popular over the years, but there are still plenty of incredible day hikes and backpacking trails in the Sawtooths. The views truly can’t be beaten and since you’re in Idaho, you won’t have as many crowds as you would in a National Park.
12) Sun Valley and Ketchum – 155 miles, 2.44-hour drive from Boise
This is a special little mountain town very close to the Sawtooth Mountains and my hometown of Twin Falls. It’s known as the resort town of Idaho with celebs flocking here every summer and winter season.
Many people get confused with the difference between Sun Valley and Ketchum, but Sun Valley is technically the resort and Ketchum is the town next to the resort. However, both are typically just called Sun Valley when referring to the area.
A lot of people don’t know this, but Sun Valley was the first resort to build a chair lift for skiers! It’s a great town for winter skiing (Bald Mountain), summer hiking/biking and is known as one of the most outdoorsy towns in all of Idaho.
The Sun Valley restaurant and bar scene is a lot of fun too. Be sure to look out for celebrities…they are all over the place! I’ve seen my fair share at the restaurants and coffee shops downtown. Also, check out the Sun Valley Lodge and walk through downtown Ketchum. Nothing is better than a day hike and getting a beer and burger on the deck at Lefty’s Bar & Grill.
13) Hell’s Canyon National Recreational Area – 172 miles, 3.40 hour drive from Boise
Hell’s Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America and is located right on the Idaho and Oregon border. Here you’ll find some great camping, fishing, hiking, and world-class rafting! The closest towns to Hells Canyon are Riggins and Grangeville, Idaho if you need some gear for your excursions.
14) Joseph, OR and the Wallowas – 240 miles, 4-hour drive from Boise
Joseph, Oregon got its name after Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce and is now often referred to as the “Little Switzerland of America”. It’s a cute little mountain town nestled up in the Wallowa mountain range. The drive to Joseph is the most beautiful at the end of spring when all of the wildflowers are blooming along the drive. Stay in the town for a cute little getaway or go camping in the Wallows for some magnificent nature!
15) Walla Walla, Washington – 245 miles, 4-hour drive from Boise
I’m a huge fan of Walla Walla, Washington! Walla Walla is mainly known for its wineries littering the Walla Walla Valley. There are over 120 wineries in the region making it a great weekend destination for out-of-towners! I recommend walking around downtown and checking out some of my favorite restaurants and wineries.
16) Salt Lake City – 339 miles, 4.45-hour drive from Boise
Salt Lake City is an excellent road trip from Boise and will take you through Twin Falls and the Snake River Canyon. There’s a great food, brewery, and dessert scene in Salt Lake City. You can also go to a Utah Jazz game, check out Temple Square where Utah pretty much started, or drive a bit further and go to the famous Bonneville Salt Flats. This is also a great jumping-off point for the wonderful National Parks in Utah like Zion, Canyonlands, or Bryce Canyon.
17) Bend, Oregon – 319 miles, 5-hour drive from Boise
Bend, OR is in a world of its own and is such a precious and fun place to visit. The brewery scene, beautiful landscape, river, and great downtown all make it somewhere I’ll always say yes to visiting. Just remember, upon driving here, there won’t be places to get gas once you hit Burns, so you’ll want to make sure you have enough fuel to make it the rest of the way to Bend! Since COVID, it’s grown a lot with people moving out of cities and moving there, so it has gotten a bit more crowded. It’s still as charming as ever, though!
18) Park City, Utah – 370 miles, 5.20-hour drive from Boise
Drive just a bit further than Salt Lake City and you’ll hit one of my favorite spots in Utah, Park City! This is the perfect place to visit in the summer or the winter! I love the fact they have so many world-renowned ski resorts all in one little compact place. Plus, downtown is the most charming. Don’t forget the Sundance Film Festival is here every year, typically the last week of January. See my full Park City Winter Guide.
19) Yellowstone – 388 miles, 5.30-hour drive from Boise
Funnily enough, I grew up really close to Yellowstone, but have never been here! Technically part of the park is in Idaho, but the entrance you’ll want to go to is West Yellowstone. Along the way be sure to stop in beautiful Island Park, Idaho. You’ll get majestic views and there’s great fishing if that’s your thing!
20) Jackson Hole, WY and the Grand Tetons – 369 miles, 5.35-hour drive from Boise
Jackson Hole is just the coolest place. The scenery is beautiful and you’ll have a great drive through a lot of different landscapes. Be sure to go over the Teton Pass as you head over the mountains from Idaho to Wyoming to see the famous ‘Howdy Stranger’ sign. The towns of Driggs and Victor, Idaho are also cute if you want to stop. Plus, you’ll be driving through Idaho Falls, one of the largest cities in Idaho, if you want to get out to see the falls. My guide to Jackson Hole is here if you need ideas on what to do. I highly recommend heading to Grand Teton National Park and hiking Jenny Lake while you’re there!
21) Moscow and Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho – 295 miles, 6-hour drive from Boise
If you want to do a long road trip in Idaho, try driving all the way up to Northern Idaho and checking out Moscow and Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. It’s much farther than some of the other places listed, but that way you’d see the majority of what Idaho has to offer!
Moscow is a fun college town (I went to the University of Idaho here) and the campus is beautiful! Coeur d’ Alene is a liveable resort town with a beautiful lake and fun downtown. Driving all the way up here, you’ll pass through many of the other road trip locations listed like Cascade, Donnelly, McCall, Riggins, and Hells Canyon.
If you’re feeling adventurous while you’re up here, you can even go all the way to Canada, or check out another beautiful lake town, Sandpoint, Idaho.
20+ Best Road Trips From Boise, Idaho: You Can’t Go Wrong
I hope you enjoy some of these amazing day trips and road trips from Boise. There truly are some wonderful landscapes to be seen during all of these road trips and I hope you enjoy them. Also, I am always looking for new road trips I haven’t experienced yet from Boise, so if you know of any I should add to this list or try myself, please let me know in the comments or shoot me a DM on Instagram!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 29-year-old from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.