Many people dream about heading to California for some surf and sun during summer break. Or perhaps they want to visit New York City for a tour of all the Broadway shows. Perhaps even a jaunt to Florida to visit the theme parks. But what about the lesser-traveled states? We’re starting a new feature where we’ll be showcasing some of the other states in the United States. This month’s state is our nation’s 43rd state.  A few facts about #43:

  • The 14th largest state
  • Nicknamed “The Gem State”
  • This state borders SIX states, as well as 1 Canadian Province
  • The capital of this state is Boise

As you’ve probably guessed, we’re talking about Idaho.  Idaho isn’t often thought of as a vacation spot, but it really is a great state to visit, especially for nature-lovers.  It has some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the country – Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental United States, covering 2.3 million acres. The geography of Idaho varies from snow-capped mountains to steep canyons.

Natural Attractions

Balanced Rock is located South of Buhl, in the Salmon Creek Canyon. This world-famous wind-carved rock stands 48 feet tall, and weighs a whopping 40 tons – and is balanced on a pedestal that is only 3 feet by 17 inches. Take a picnic, and enjoy the beautiful scenery while you eat.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to head to if you want to observe wildlife in a natural surrounding. It’s located on the north shore of Bear Lake.  There is an abundance of water birds – including the White-Faced Ibis.  Boating and canoeing are permitted, though there are date restrictions.

For the Thrill Seekers

Boise Hot Air Balloon Rides, located as the name suggests, in Boise, is a fabulous way to start your day. Book a sunrise balloon venture, and float quietly as you watch the new day dawn. They also do special events such as weddings, graduations and birthdays.

Go white water rafting through the deepest gorge in North America, on Snake River.  As you travel the river, you’ll pass between the Seven Devils range to the east and Oregon’s rim country to the west. You’ll experience some of the best big waves and whitewater in the entire Northwest. Not for the faint of heart!

Family Fun

A fun (and educational) stop for the family is the World Center for Birds of Prey, located near Boise. There are live bird presentations, so you can meet the birds face-to-face, and raptor experts talk about various birds of prey. There are also Falconry Heritage Tours, where you can enjoy books, art, sculptures and various artifacts of falconry.

17 miles north of Shohone, on Highway 75, you’ll find the Shoshone Ice Caves. Be warned, it’s chilly. You’ll want to take your own coat or borrow one of the “courtesy coats.”   You’ll enter through the gift shop and exit out the back to follow the trail to the cave. This cave isn’t famous for its beauty, but rather for it’s odd history (it totally melted in the 1940’s) and for the “weird” ice thing it has going.  It’s a quirky sort of stop in an area that doesn’t have a lot of child-friendly places to enjoy while taking a break from the road.

An unusual stop for the family is Don Aslett’s “Museum of Clean.”  This unique museum is large – 75,000 square feet, and is located near Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.  It’s designed with the entire family in mind.  It includes a 3-story Kid’s Cleaning World which includes a replica of Noah’s Ark – highlighting the importance of water. There’s also a rooftop garden that features plants native to Idaho, and an integral irrigation system. Truly an unforgettable stop.

Idaho has something for folks of all ages.  Golfing, fishing, hiking, water and theme parks, you name it, Idaho has it.  Your family will enjoy the trip, plan on visiting Idaho someday soon.