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Did you know that there are 31 scenic byways in the state of Idaho? It’s pretty much impossible to drive anywhere in the Gem State without pulling over for a picture, no matter what kind of hurry you think you may be in. A camera is great for capturing beautiful scenery, or maybe even a paintbrush and canvas. In Idaho, you can leave the rushing to the state’s famed Snake River and opt instead for the state’s scenic byways where scenic overlooks should not be overlooked!

Early morning sun lights mist of farmlands near Tetonia, Idaho. | Photo by Kymri Wilt


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The other side of the Tetons

Grand Tetons View reflected in lake along Teton Scenic Byway, Idaho

Grand Teton National Park may sit in Wyoming, but views of the mountain range are equally as stunning from the Idaho side, where Victor and Driggs provide friendly small-town charm and character. Any time of year, Teton Springs Lodge & Spa in Victor is a perfect base from which to explore and features golf, tennis and a full-service spa after a day hiking or skiing the mountains. Get up early to witness the sun rising over the peaks and illuminating the farms and fields in a golden light. Late in the day, watch the crags turn pink in the setting sun from several vantage points along the Teton Scenic Byway.

Rural farm roads around Driggs, Idaho. | Photo by Kymri Wilt

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Idaho’s very own Caribbean beach

Sandy beach and turquoise waters of Bear Lake State Park. | Photo by Kymri Wilt

Situated in the southeast corner of the state, Bear Lake sparkles with magical water that changes color with the light throughout the day. Stretches of white sandy beach line this pristine lake, which at times is so turquoise that you might think it’s in the Caribbean! At the north end lies Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a favorite spot for migrating birds and a worthy destination for migrating birders.

Idaho’s hot springs

Scenery of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.

Bear Lake Scenic Byway connects with Oregon Trail Scenic Byway, which takes you right through geyser and hot springs territory. The big draw is Lava Hot Springs, where you can zip down waterslides and swim at the Aquatic Center, relax and soak in geothermal hot pools, or rent a tube and float through town on the Portneuf River. It can feel a bit crowded here, but just a short drive way is the Harkness Hotel & Spa, a beautifully restored 1906 bank building in the small quiet town of McCammon.

Idaho’s Great Rift Valley

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. | Photo by Kymri Wilt

The Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway run right through the middle of the state, leading to the main attraction, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This otherworldly landscape at first appears to be a barren volcanic plain, but visit May through September for carpets of colorful blooming wildflowers.

Wildflower Bloom at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. | Photo by Kymri Wilt

Plein air paradise found

Plein air Artist Susan Perrin at Silver Creek Nature Preserve. | Photo by Kymri Wilt

If you’re artistically inclined, pack your easel and join the artists who have already discovered Idaho’s endless opportunities for painting in the great outdoors. From rugged snow-capped peaks to verdant green valleys and serene lakes, it’s no wonder Idaho is a mecca for plein air artists. Festivals are held throughout the year in different parts of Idaho. From opening day of fly-fishing season at Silver Creek Preserve, to the “Trailing of the Sheep” in the fall, the varied landscape of magical light is not to be missed any time of year.

Fall for the Falls

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls. | Photo by Kymri Wilt

The Snake River winds and bends it’s way across the state of Idaho. From the pristine Mesa Falls in the east to Hell’s Canyon in the west, there are countless waterfalls and tumbling cascades to admire. The 212-foot Shoshone Falls are popular any time of day, and are especially impressive in late spring when the waters are flowing heaviest. Follow the river west to take in the view of the Snake River Canyon and Perrine Bridge.

Snake River Canyon Gorge and Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho.

Castle Rock and City of Rocks

Castle Rock State Park. | Photo by Kymri Wilt

Imagine a fairy tale land of rocks where you can camp, climb, hike, bike and explore by horseback, and you’ve got Castle Rocks. One of Idaho’s 25 State Parks, here you’ll discover a secluded climber’s paradise. Nearby, explore the City of Rocks National Preserve, where early pioneers of the California Trail left their mark on some of the rocks using axle grease from their wagons.

Pioneer wagon marks the California Trail through Almo and the City of Rocks National Monument. | Photo by Kymri Wilt


Tagged: Destinations, Photo essay

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Kymri Wilt
Kymri Wilt is a freelance travel photographer, videographer, and blogger based in Cardiff by the Sea, California. Follow her on twitter & instagram @kymri.
Kymri Wilt


Travel photographer/writer, tour leader, actor. Orbitz/Travelocity blogger. I go luxury, family, solo. Love dogs, surf, planet earth. Last: Vegas. Now: Pajamas
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