Idaho Adventure Family Road Trip
Idaho wasn’t even on our radar, now I’m contemplating moving there! We’ve been to all the states surrounding Idaho, but somehow this beautiful state hasn’t made it into our itinerary until this year. I was blown away with how great Idaho is, especially for adventurers like us. Idaho is the perfect destination if your family road trip revolves around adventure.
We didn’t have enough time to give Sandpoint a chance to amaze us. What definitively did amaze us was the most delicious ice cream ever, Panhandle Cone & Coffee (it even made it onto the “best creamy treats in the world” post). While you’re in town, relax at City Beach which isn’t the most adventurous activity I’d recommend, but kids will have fun swimming and jumping into the water. Sandpoint is also known for epic single-tracks mountain biking (see a trail map here) however, we didn’t have the opportunity to try some of the trails ourselves–gives us a reason to go back next year. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it, we just didn’t have time to get a ride in. If you feel like taking a detour, drive over to Priest Lake which is supposed to be a beautiful and fun lake. The Festival at Sandpoint is a popular concert series that comes to Sanpoint every summer. Though the music may not be your favorite hit artists, the environment is fun, friendly, and happy. My parents enjoyed The Festival.
What brought us here was the rock climbing but it wasnt the only thing that kept us here. Q’emiln Park is one of the best sport climbing destinations for families we discovered! The parking is easy, the approach is super short, and the routes are well bolted or top-roped. Q’emiln is really cool because you’re in the forest though you’d never expect it when driving through the farmland to get there. In the park, there is also a large, wide river to play in and rinse off in after a day spent rock climbing. Plus, if you walk across the short bridge you can enjoy a beer at Post Falls Brewing Co overlooking the river.
On The Way: Stop in Coeur d’Alene if you’re down for a nice dinner, some yummy ice cream at Sweet Peaks, or just a night in town.
McCall could very well one day be our home. We absolutely fell in love with Ponderosa State Park, which is a must if you are visiting McCall. We love that you can get anywhere by bike, not to mention the amazing trail network set up in the state park that has amazing mountain biking too. Be sure to ride the Huckleberry Bay Loop at dawn for amazing views of Payette Lake. Or choose to go for a trail run in the middle trails through forest and over hills and marshes. Payette Lake became one of our absolute favorite lakes to swim in. Walk down to the shore by the campground loops and jump off the docks with the whole family. If you have a boat, it’s even better. Some days the lake will be glassy for the entire day! Don’t miss the opportunity to go skateboarding/cruising on the paved trail. In the morning, ride into town and grab some coffee (and wifi) at Mountain Java. Seriously do not miss the Farmers Market. The McCall farmers is one of our all time favorite farmers markets. Grab some grass-fed meat from Butler Grass Fed, Yak Stix, organic bread, homemade pies, sweet (non-GMO) corn, veggies, and peaches. Stop at Salmon River Brewery for a drink or grab a burger at My Father’s Place but definitely don’t miss the waffles from Payette Liege Waffles food truck right by Salmon Rive Brewery (only open in the summer). Last but not least, climb the hidden gem of The Thinking Spot. Don’t be fooled by Mountain Projects lack of routes. Just ask for info at Gravity Sports about climbing there or click here for our beta about climbing there. When you drive over there, hang out on the beautiful North Beach afterward.
On The Way: On the way to Stanley you have to stop at the amazing Kirkham Hot Springs. It can be crowded but it’s still worth the stop. Park at 44.072427, -115.541471, cross the bridge, and enjoy moving between the 100-degree springs then polar plunging in the crisp cold river and cliff jumping from the opposite side of the river!
You could spend so much time in Stanley! The Sawtooths are easily one of our favorite mountain ranges in the world. There are so many epic hikes! Click here to see our guide to day hiking in the Sawtooths. There are alpine lakes, meadows, jagged peaks, waterfalls, and lakes without the crowds of popular national parks. Camp at Stanley Lake but make a reservation ahead of time if it’s summer. Check out our favorite hikes in Sawtooths here. Be sure to hike Goat Lake, it’s short (not easy per se) and one of the most amazing hikes we’ve ever done. If you’re near Stanley, have a post-hike breakfast at Stanley Baking Company and Cafe. Spend a few days at Redfish Lake where there are many scenic campgrounds though Glacier View is the only one that allows RVs. There is also a great campers resource on the road into Redfish where you can shower and do laundry (always a highlight for us).
On The Way: As you drive down to Ketchum be sure to stop and mountain bike the easy and scenic trails at Galena. See the trail map here.
Sun Valley & Ketchum
Perhaps the next best thing to Stanley is the valley that Ketchum and Sun Valley lie in. Adventures galore! You could go get lost for weeks on end here. Camp at Boundary Campground and go for a lovely 7 mile MTB ride at Corral Creek (one of the top five MTB rides in Idaho) or ride your bike on the paved bike path into town and grab some bread at Bigwood Bread & Cafe. If you feel like getting lost (not really lost) adventure into the mountains up Trail Creek Road and go rock climbing and free camp. If your legs aren’t exhausted from hiking the Sawtooths, I highly recommend hiking The Devil’s Bedstead which we’ve heard is one of the best hikes in the US.
On The Way: If you need a leg stretcher, stop at Shoshone Falls. Though if you are a hardcore adventurer, you might opt to pass on this touristy stop.
City of Rocks
If you’re in the wonderful state of Idaho, you can’t miss the opportunity to climb at the famous City of Rocks. There is a route for everyone here and though it’s not an easy approach or lots of easy sport routes like Q’emiln Park, it’s still worth it. For routes with no approach, head to Breadloaves (Sport and Trad)—perfect for kids. If you’re okay with hiking far, walk to Tahitian Rocks and Site 18. For more intermediate routes, check out our 5.8 climbers’ guide to City of Rocks–coming soon. You will want to make time to camp out here as these campsites are amazing for star gazing, scrambling, and silence.City of Rocks is a great destination for your next adventure family road trip!Click To Tweet
If you’re looking for a place to relax and recover, make sure to stop at Bear Lake. Though there are many campgrounds around the lake, East Beach seemed to be the most lovely. The water of this lake is famous for a reason you saw how turquoise it was, right?!– and if you have a boat, it’s an epic place to waterski/wakeboard because there’s practically no one else on the lake (at least when we were there in late August).
Tell us If you’re planning a road trip though Idaho in the comments! We love connecting with fellow road trippers/adventurers/families/nomads/outdoor lovers!
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