Spend the day exploring, mountain biking or enjoying Idaho’s wine region without having to pack a bag. Boise is a place we love to call home. Sometimes, though, we just want to get out of town! Here are some great day trip ideas that allow you to explore and in most cases still be back in time for dinner.
1) Bogus Basin in Summer
No longer just a winter destination. The Bogus Basin ski area also offers biking, hiking, disc golf, live music, hiking and running events. Only 45 minutes from Downtown Boise, the trip up the mountain has long been worth it just for the spectacular views of Boise and the Valley.
Starting in June, there will be a mountain bike shuttle between the Simplot Lodge and Pioneer Lodge every weekend. Mountain bike from the top of Bogus Basin all the way to the Boise foothills and eventually to the new Eagle Velodrome on the Shafer Butte trail system. The trails at Bogus are typically open June through October and offer 30 miles of high elevation scenic delight.
Beginning this Summer, the Simplot Lodge will be open Thursday – Sunday, with live music. There will be three all-day music events, July 4th, August 1st and September 5th at the amphitheater. The lifts will be running on those days, so you can use them for mountain biking, hiking, or just a way to take in a fantastic view. Learn more at bogusbasin.org.
2) Bruneau Sand Dunes
Bruneau Dunes State Park, located 64 miles South of Boise. The only place in Idaho where you can dune ski. The tallest dune, North America’s largest freestanding sand dune, reaches over 470 ft. Sand boards are available to rent & there’s even wifi.
A five-mile self-guided nature trail explains the unique geology that created the dunes and the pond that can be found at their base. A visitor center offers information on birds of prey, insects, fossils, wildlife and of course the sand dunes.
With one of the longest camping seasons in the Idaho Parks system, Bruneau Dunes State Park offers camping opportunities year-round. Other activities include fishing, birdwatching, camping, hiking, swimming and viewing the stars. The Bruneau Dunes Observatory Complex, one of only two public observatories in Idaho, with its 25″ telescope is open to the public. The drive a few miles farther south, past Bruneau to the spectacular Bruneau Canyon scenic overlook, is well worth the trip. Learn more at parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/bruneau-dunes.
3) Craters of the Moon
Three hours drive East of Boise. Craters of the Moon formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. During this time, the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles.
According to the National Park Service Craters of the Moon is a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush. We invite you to explore this “weird and scenic landscape” where yesterday’s volcanic events are likely to continue tomorrow… Learn more at nps.gov/crmo.
4) Hells Canyon
Situated along the eastern Oregon border and about a four hours’ drive from Boise, Idaho is one of nature’s most spectacular creations, Hells Canyon. Known as the deepest river gorge in North America, surpassing the ever-popular Grand Canyon in Arizona.
This area sprawls across three states, including Idaho, Oregon and Washington and to the east includes the Seven Devils Mountain Range.
Most of the area is inaccessible. However, the dedicated recreation portion of the canyon provides a wide range of activities most of which are open year round. You will find some of the best whitewater rafting in the Northwest, jet boat tours and the opportunity to explore the numerous amounts of hiking trails. Learn more here.
5) Idaho City
This former mining town was once the capital of Idaho and is located about an hour away from Boise. The rustic downtown area welcomes you with the charm of the old Wild West with a variety of antique shops, restaurants, and even an old sarsaparilla shop. The area is a clear reminiscence of the hustle and bustle of what this town once was back in its heyday in the late 1800’s.
If you’re looking to unwind a bit, Idaho City is also home to The Springs- which is a developed natural hot springs pool that recently took on major renovations and has since been reopened to the public. This little getaway is open year round and even though the snow could be falling you could be soaking up the heat all while outside! Learn more at visitidaho.org/idaho-city.
One of the toughest parts about visiting McCall is trying only to make a day trip of it. Two hours north of Boise you will find the resort town of McCall, Idaho, nestled along the picturesque Payette Lake. Offering excellent boating with several sandy beaches and spectacular mountain scenery. North Beach is a popular spot for water skiing. Rent a boat and spend the day on the water or picnicking in one of the two city parks on the water.
Ponderosa State Park, located on a 1,000-acre peninsula extending out into the lake, offers hiking and biking trails and guided walks. The scenic overlook at Osprey Point offers a spectacular view of the lake.
Located northwest of McCall, Brundage Mountain Resort offers the “Best Snow in Idaho”. Not what you would typically think of as a resort. Brundage more than makes up for what it lacks in size in quality alpine skiing. At its base area, it typically receives 320 inches of snowfall annually.
Held between the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February, the McCall Winter Carnival is not to be missed. A celebration of all things winter, the McCall Winter Carnival brings more than 60,000 people to McCall each year. Expect to find incredible snow sculptures, live music, and daily events encompassing everything from comedy shows to art auctions. Learn more at mccallchamber.org.
7) Silver City Idaho
About a two hours’ drive from Boise and located in the backcountry of the Owyhee Mountains is one of Idaho’s most notorious ghost towns. Silver City was a boom town back in the late 1880’s and while the population there now is a far cry from the 2500 residents who used to reside here. Taking a walk through this old mining town is like taking a trip back in time.
Of the many structures left- tin roofs dot the hills and some structures were brought back to life thanks to the part-time residents, many of which are third and fourth generation descendants of the original miners who called this town home.
You will find mine shafts dotted throughout the rugged terrain. As a reminder of the rough challenges people of time faced, four cemeteries are located throughout- some of which include some very interesting headstones. While Silver City makes for a great place to visit, the town is only accessible by vehicle during warm months and as snow comes, only by snowmobile. Learn more at historicsilvercityidaho.com.
8) Silver Creek Plunge
Not to be confused with the location above, Silver Creek Plunge is located about 2 hours north of Boise in the Garden Valley Area.
Nestled amongst the mountains with an evergreen backdrop, it’s best known as a family resort.
Many will make a day trip up here to take in the natural warm springs pool. You will also find a variety of ATV trails, fishing, overnight camping and cabin rentals in the event you want to stay longer. Learn more at silvercreekplunge.com.
9) Idaho Wine Country
Located a short one hour drive west of Boise is one of the Treasure Valley’s best-kept secrets. The Sunny Slope wine district is home to over 13 different wineries whose vineyards span hundreds of acres amongst rolling hills.
While many non-locals are surprised to hear about our local production, we produce a great wine grape here in the Treasure Valley. “Idaho’s wineries and vineyards consistently craft award-winning wines ranging from full-bodied reds to delicate roses.” Great soil along with good weather promote an ideal environment for wine grapes.
From 2008 to 2013, the number of Idaho wineries has increased from 38 to 51 and while the secret is all but out now. Many of our wineries have become household brands and are producing award-winning wines.