Create Unforgettable Summer Memories in Idaho

Route of the Hiawatha. Photo credit: Visit Idaho

Calling all families in search of the ultimate summer road trip destination! Idaho beckons with distinctive experiences tailor-made for kids and parents alike. From thrilling water parks and outdoor adventure to hands-on learning opportunities. So, gather the family, pack up the car and hit the road for a journey filled with laughter, learning and lasting memories.

Splash into Family Fun

Cool off from the summer heat with visits to the state’s waterparks. Northern Idaho’s Silverwood Theme Park, the largest amusement park in the Northwest, boasts an attached waterpark offering multi-story water slides, giant wave pools and a lazy river. Roaring Springs, near Boise, is the largest waterpark in the Northwest, where you’ll find a variety of speed slides and tubes among luxury cabanas, wave-action and lazy rivers and much more. The Lava Hot Springs Olympic Swimming Complex features water slides, diving platforms and an indoor aquatic center. Afterward, try a different type of plunge at Lava Hot Springs World Famous Hot Pools,where you can soothe tired muscles in the steaming, odorless mineral water.

One of the best ways to experience Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge, is by embarking on a jet boating trip along the Snake River. Feel the wind in your hair and the spray of the water as an expert captain zooms you upstream through the powerful rapids. Marvel at the towering canyon rims, spot a variety of wildlife and Native American petroglyphs and learn about the area’s history on half- or full-day excursions.

Home to the most navigable miles of whitewater in the Lower 48, Idaho is a popular rafting destination for families seeking an adrenaline rush amid stunning scenery. A short drive from Boise, the Main Payette River offers approachable, professionally guided half-day rafting trips filled with Class I and II rapids and some smoother stretches for swimming alongside the raft. 

For a different type of aqua adventure, go chasing the Gem State’s waterfalls. Shoshone Falls is dubbed the “Niagara of the West” for its majestic 212-foot plunge into the Snake River Canyon. Enjoy the view from a variety of platforms and then explore the area’s hiking and biking trails. At Mesa Falls, near Yellowstone National Park, you get two falls for the price of one. Take a short jaunt on the nature trail leading from the visitor center (and near the upper falls) to the lower falls.


Take a Hike, Get Your Ride on and Soar Through the Air

Lace up your boots for an extraterrestrial trek at Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. This unique landscape is dotted with lava flows and cinder cones, resembling the moon’s surface so much that NASA’s Apollo 14 crew trained here for their mission. Craters of the Moon celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2024. Watch for themed monthly events honoring the moon’s phases, which will be held within the park and in surrounding communities.

For a family-friendly bike ride, few offer a better balance of unique pathways and spectacular surroundings than the Route of the Hiawatha. Spanning 15 miles of trestles and train tunnels in the breathtaking Bitterroot Mountains, all ages and levels of riders will find pleasure cruising along this rail to trail.

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Snake River Canyon as you speed through the air on an exhilarating zipline tour. The four-line course will get your pulse racing while you learn about the area’s history and geology and breathe in the epic views.

Fuel Your Curiosity and Imagination

No vacation is complete without learning something new. Start with a clean slate at the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, where unexpected exhibits and hands-on experiences explore the concept of cleanliness in fun and fascinating ways. History, science and nature come together at the Museum of Idaho, where kids can search for mammoth fossils, explore an Old West town or encounter exotic rainforest animals. Did you know nuclear energy was once used to power a small Idaho city? Discover this story and all things nuclear at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I Atomic Museum, near Arco.

Wherever your travels take you around Idaho, you’re sure to experience a vacation the family will be talking about for years to come.