We may be biased, but we think that Idaho is without a doubt one of the best destinations for a summertime getaway, whether you’re local and are looking for a quick day trip to get you out of your hometown or you’re visiting from afar and are planning a longer trip. Idaho is something special when the sun comes out to play, boasting such a wide range of outdoor adventures and opportunities to explore the incredible natural beauty this state has to offer. Finding summer activities in Idaho won’t be difficult: it’s picking just a few that will be the real challenge.

To help you plan your itinerary and find the adventures that best fit you, we’ve created this list of the top 5 things to do in Idaho this summer that you won’t want to miss. Trust us: we’ve been here a while, and we’ve done everything under the sun when it comes to exploring the great state of Idaho—so we’re giving you only the best of the best!

Why Visit Idaho in the Summer?

Before we dive into all the best things to do, let’s talk briefly about why you should include a trip to Idaho in your summer plans in the first place. 

Did you know that Idaho is called the “Gem State”? Although this nickname comes from the fact that Idaho is full of actual gemstones, we like to think it’s metaphorical, too; because what a gem this state truly is. Home to every type of outdoor landscape imaginable—including beaches, waterfalls, forests, canyons, lakes, rivers, and mountains—Idaho offers a really incredible array of opportunities for anybody who loves spending time outdoors. Whether you enjoy a short hike along a winding river or you’d prefer a multi-day backpacking trip through the rugged mountain trails, Idaho has ways for everybody to enjoy its picturesque landscapes and vibrant outdoor scene. We’ve even got a whopping 27 state parks to choose from, along with plenty of other scenic wilderness areas ready to be explored!

While Idaho is beautiful at any time of year, summer is especially popular for outdoor activities and tourism due to the gorgeous weather and lack of precipitation. Summer in Idaho is from May to August, with average temperatures varying by region; Boise is one of the hotter areas, with summer highs averaging around 92°F, whereas further north in Coeur D’Alene, highs are closer to 82°F. This is the ideal weather for sun-drenched days out on the water, participating in fun activities such as boat tours, rafting, kayaking, and swimming. The mountainous areas tend to be cooler than places like Boise, so summer is also an amazing time to go hiking through the alpine valleys and checking out the abundant trails Idaho has to offer.

What month is the warmest in Idaho?

If you’re looking for the hottest weather possible (great for water activities especially), July will be the warmest month to visit Idaho. Again, though, it varies by region, as certain parts of Idaho will keep consistent temperatures through the summer whereas others see more extreme ranges.

What month is the busiest in Idaho?

Because of the ideal weather for outdoor summer activities, July and August tend to be the busiest months in Idaho. You’ll want to keep this in mind if you’re planning a summer trip, as travel and accommodation costs will likely be higher, and it’ll be more challenging to find privacy if that’s something you’re looking for (e.g. while camping). 

Where in Idaho has the best summer weather?

That really depends on what you’re looking to do during your time in Idaho! If you want to go hiking, you’ll want to stick to cooler areas in the mountains, since places like Boise get pretty hot and aren’t super pleasant for long hikes. Sandpoint and Coeur d’ Alene are incredible in the summer, boasting temperatures that are warm enough to take a swim and lounge around on the beach, but aren’t too hot or muggy. McCall is another great spot for a summer vacation, offering a wide array of outdoor activities including hikes through the mountains & forests, lake days, natural hot springs, mountain biking trails, and whitewater rafting tours—all while temperatures tend to stay around 80°F.

5 Can’t-Miss Outdoor Summer Activities in Idaho

Can you tell that we love to brag about summers in Idaho? They’re pretty dang hard to beat, especially when there are truly endless things to do. Here are 5 outdoor things to do in Idaho this summer for an unforgettable adventure.

Warning: these may turn your one-time summer trip to Idaho into an annual occurrence!

1. Take a jet boat tour on the Salmon River

Known as “The River of No Return,” the Salmon River is one of the gems of Idaho that we personally think everyone should visit at one point or another. Starting in the Sawtooth and Lemhi Valleys and flowing 425 miles through the Frank Church Wilderness, the Salmon River is home to the fascinating history of the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho. It was originally a site of salmon fishing, plant gathering, bighorn sheep hunting, and more for these two tribes, the stories and memories of whom have helped shape the history of the Gem State. While the Salmon River offers many opportunities for outdoor adventure such as hiking, fishing, horseback riding, biking, and camping, there’s no better way to experience it than via a jet boat tour!

Jet boat tours are a fantastic way to explore the Salmon River, taking you through the historic and scenic Frank Church Wilderness via a private or shared tour with your closest friends. Here at Whitewater Expeditions, our jet boat day trips along the Salmon River give you the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and witness some of the historic places that are important to our state, including historic ranches, mines, cabins, and even a Native American pictograph site. You’ll experience all the most beautiful sights the Salmon River has to offer, as well as stories behind each stop on the itinerary, all while enjoying the sunny blue skies of Idaho summer. Our guided scenic trips can accommodate up to 20 people through mid-July and up to 8 people from August to September, so we encourage you to invite your family and friends along for the ride!

Our friends over at Mackay Bar Outfitters are another awesome choice for jet boat tours along the Salmon River. They are a full service guest ranch that offers single-day and multi-day tours.

2. Go whitewater rafting on the Salmon River

As we mentioned earlier, whitewater rafting is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Idaho during the summer, and it should definitely be a part of your trip in one way or another. In fact, Idaho is considered one of the best states in the country for whitewater rafting thanks to its impressive terrain, scenic trips, and world-class rapids—we actually have more miles of whitewater than any other state. There are all sorts of ways to get out on the water depending on what kind of adventure you’re craving, from day trips that are perfect for the family, to overnight getaways, to week-long wilderness adventures with an intimate group of your closest friends.

Wild River Adventures is one of our favorite companies to recommend for folks who want a thrilling white water rafting trip from Riggins, Idaho, with 2-3 hour excursions available as well as all-day rafting adventures. Their Classic Whitewater Rafting Trip is perfect for either first-timers or experienced rafters, covering a distance of about 10 miles on the Salmon River with 10 rapids to ride. This is a great choice if you’re staying in McCall and need something fun to do for half a day. For a longer journey, you can take their All-Day Rafting Trip, which takes around 6 hours and has you float 20 miles of river, with a stop for lunch included.

Idaho River Adventures is another top-rated rafting company in Idaho, offering trips for both beginners and rafting enthusiasts, and families and individuals alike. They float multiple sections of the Salmon River, offering trips down the Middle Fork, Main Salmon, and Lower Salmon; all of which will blow you away with the stunning river gorge scenery around you. You can take a private chartered trip, or choose from one of their specialty Music & Raft or Wine & Raft trips for a little extra fun.

Our final recommendation for whitewater rafting this summer in Idaho is Yellow Jacket River Guides, a company that specializes in women’s wellness trips and providing intentional, thoughtful river journeys unique to the rest of the rafting trips in the region. Their trips are more than just a few hours on the water; they are full vacations in themselves, whether you choose to participate in their 5-day Girlfriends’ Getaway or their classic 5-day Wilderness River Journey. The Wilderness Journey includes guided excursions along the Salmon River including paddle boating, white water rafting, and fishing, as well as side trips to historic sites and riverside camping each night. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and would be a really memorable way to spend your time in Idaho this summer.

3. Take a helicopter tour over McCall, Boise, or Southern Idaho

Witnessing Idaho’s scenery from the ground is incredible in itself, but experiencing it from above is a whole other world. Helicopter tours are an amazing way to take in the beauty of Idaho from a completely new perspective, soaring over the crystal blue lakes, the dense forests, the deep river canyons, and the rugged mountain ranges. A bucket list item for sure!

McCall Helicopter Adventures offers multiple tours around the McCall area, with options to see stunning views of Payette Lake, Granite Lookout, Snowslide and Sawtooth Peaks, Box and Ross Lakes, and so many more of the most incredible spots in the region. 

If you’ll be staying closer to Boise, Silverhawk Aviation Academy provides a number of unique helicopter experiences including tours over the Owyhee Mountains, downtown Boise, the Snake River Wine Region, and the vibrant Black Canyon Reservoir. You can even charter your own helicopter to pick and choose your departure and arrival locations, or take a “Discovery Flight” to learn how to control the aircraft from one of the Certified Flight Instructors. 

To explore Southern Idaho from the skies, we’d recommend booking a tour with Idaho Extreme Adventures, who provides scenic tours of the St. Anthony Sand Dunes Recreation Area as well as guided UTV tours (which we’ll talk about more soon). Helicopter tours of the sand dunes and the surrounding area include up to 30 minutes in the sky for 2-3 participants, so this is a great option if you’re visiting Idaho with a partner or a friend, and you want a private, incredibly memorable experience.

4. Check out a popular Idaho hiking trail

You can’t visit Idaho without taking advantage of its incredible variety of hiking trails, so here are three of our favorite routes we’d recommend checking out during your trip:

Seven Devils Loop (Seven Devil Mountains)

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 27.9 miles
Elevation gain: 6,548 feet
Route type: Loop
Dog-friendly? Yes

The Seven Devils Mountains are a part of Hells Canyon Wilderness, located in west central Idaho above the Snake River’s east bank. These mountain peaks offer a wide range of epic outdoor adventures and different ways to experience & explore the rugged alpine wilderness, including hiking, ziplining, and camping under the night sky. If you’re on the hunt for a multi-day backpacking trip that will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of the mountains, Seven Devils Loop is a top-rated, 27.9-mile loop trek that’s ideal for backpacking, camping, and hiking. This isn’t a route for the faint of heart, with its lengthy distance and just over 6,500 feet of elevation gain—so it’s best for experienced hikers who are up for a challenge. Because of its high level of difficulty, this trail is not often crowded, so it’s an awesome option if you’d prefer a quiet, secluded adventure through the mountains.

Alice-Toxaway Loop (Sawtooth Mountains)

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 18.7 miles
Elevation gain: 3,139 feet
Route type: Loop
Dog-friendly? Yes

Located near Stanley, the Alice-Toxaway Loop is a roughly 19-mile loop that winds through the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, boasting some of the most spectacular views in the region. With a diverse array of scenery including craggy peaks, crystal clear alpine lakes, and gorgeous vegetation (including wildflowers in the summer), this route is ideal for hikers looking for a 2-3 day trek. The loop begins at the Tin Cup Hiker/Petit Lake Trailhead, and you’ll meander along multiple trails including Petit Creek and Yellowbelly. You’ll need a trailhead pass to venture onto this challenging loop, which you can purchase at the District Ranger Station just a few miles south of Stanley.

Mount Borah (Lost River Range)

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 8.2 miles
Elevation gain: 5,301 feet
Route type: Out & back
Dog-friendly? Yes

Want to take a journey to Idaho’s highest peak—and have bragging rights that you did so? Mount Borah is an iconic route for locals and visitors alike, located in east central Idaho’s Lost River Range at nearly 13,000 feet. It’s a steep hike and is one you should be well-prepared for, with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain over about 4 miles, and several locations that require scrambling & climbing along steep, open terrain. Best for only experienced hikers, the challenge this route provides is well worth it once you reach the summit and get to witness the magnificent views of six major mountain ranges in Idaho! Because of the steep, unrelenting terrain both on the way up and the way down, hiking poles are strongly recommended, as are crampons and an ax depending on the season.

5. Take a guided UTV tour through the Idaho backcountry

Finally, if you’re craving a bit of thrill and adventure but don’t necessarily want to climb up a steep mountain for hours on end, UTV tours are such a fun way to experience Idaho’s stunning wilderness. 

For UTV tours in the Stanley area, we’d recommend Sawtooth Traxx—a company that provides exhilarating off-roading UTV/ATV experiences through some of Idaho’s most scenic and rugged landscapes. Whether you’re looking for just a few hours of fun or a full day of adventure, they’ve got all sorts of rental options to help you experience the beauty of the Sawtooths, as well as snowmobile rentals in the winter.

If you’re staying in the McCall area, CM Backcountry Rentals & Adventures has plenty of options when it comes to exploring the region’s hundreds of miles of trails. You can book a tour through the Brundage Mountain Area to see some breathtaking alpine lakes, or take the road to Yellowpine to experience Idaho in an older time. With UTV rentals available for up to 6 people at a time, you’ve got plenty of options available to you to fit whatever type of experience you may be seeking!

Lastly, for UTV adventures in the Coeur d’Alene area, Adventure Sport Rentals has a diverse selection of vehicles to choose from including UTVs, snowmobiles, track vehicles, and even e-bikes ready to take out into the Idaho backcountry. You can choose either a guided or unguided tour depending on your experience and comfort level with UTVs, and can pick from a wide selection of vehicles to fit your group size & how much of an adventure you’re seeking. Adventure Sport Rentals also has a new location in Priest Lake, where you can rent UTVs to ride through the trails or along the roads bordering the lake.

We hope that one (or more!) of these 5 fun outdoor activities will add a little bit of thrill, and a whole lot of memories to your trip to Idaho this summer—when you book an experience with us at Whitewater Expeditions, we’ll be more than happy to provide further recommendations to make your trip as unforgettable as possible. 

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