The Ultimate Idaho Roadtrip Guide

In a land of mountains, vineyards, lakes, and the deepest canyon in North America, 2 weeks is barely enough time to scratch the surface.  


3 Random Idaho Facts You Probably Didn't Know

Jet Boats

The Lewiston-Clarkston area of Idaho is said to be the Jet Boat Capital of the World.


Despite his Key West ties, Ernest Hemmingway's final resting place is actually in Ketchum.


Hells Canyon, which spans through parts of OR and WA, is the deepest canyon in North America.



beautiful idaho

It’s hard to believe that a state this beautiful with so much amazing scenery doesn’t have it’s own National Park.  But the Sawtooths are a hiker’s paradise. With over 700 miles of trails to explore, a weekend trip only leaves you wanting more. You’ll want to save time to see the rest of the state, chasing waterfalls, floating through Boise, and even spending a day at the wineries.  Idaho really does have it all.  

idaho potatoes

Getting to jet boat through Hells Canyon was definitely a highlight!

Shoshone Falls
adventure stop


Here’s what you need to know: We started this trip by flying in to Denver so we could spend some time with friends there, and then drive through our beloved Grand Junction. Other major airports that would be good starting points are Spokane and Salt Lake City. Jackson Hole and Bozeman might be worth looking in to as well, but you’ll want to consider car rentals and flight options. 

DAY 1&2:(Starting June 12th)

  • Fly in to Denver, spend 2 nights

DAY 3:(June 14th)

  • Drive from  Denver to Grand Junction, about 4 hours
  • Stop in Golden
  • Stop in Glenwood Springs
  • Check out a winery (or 2) in Grand Junction – our favorites are Carlson Vineyards and Colorado Cellars
  • Catch a sunset from the Colorado National Monument 
  • Stay at Hampton Inn Grand Junction

DAY 4:


  • Drive SLC to Jackson Hole, 5 hours
  • Stop in Ogden, you can see the pool from The Sandlot
  • Stop in Preston, a must for Napoleon Dynamite fans
  • Stop in Blackfoot, cool small town. Have a beverage at The Bridge Street Saloon and check out Marilyn Monroe in a potato sack
  • Blackfoot is also home to the Idaho Potato Museum (when in Rome) 
  • Stop in Idaho Falls for lunch
  • Detour to find Fall Creek Falls
  • Stay 2 nights at the Hampton Inn Jackson Hole

DAY 6:

  • Hike in Grand Teton National Park!
  • Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake Loop (6m, 761 ft. elev. gain)
  • Phelps Lake Overlook (2m, 413 ft. elev. gain)
  • Dinner at Roadhouse Brewing Co.

DAY 7:

  • Take the Jenny Lake Ferry from East to West dock, from Jenny Lake Visitor Center
  • Hike Cascade Canyon (9.1m, 1,102 ft. elev. gain) *next time would like to continue to Lake Solitude 
  • Stay 2 nights at the Signal Mountain Lodge – loved it,  highly recommend! We grabbed dinner from the attached general store and had dinner outside of our room while enjoying the incredible sunset view. 

DAY 8: 

  • Hike Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Trail (10.1m, 3,001 ft. elev. gain) *On June 19th this trail was still packed with snow after switchbacks, but it was well worth the effort, the view at the lake is incredible
  • Drove around the Counter Bay area, very scenic tons of wildflowers

DAY 9:

  • Drive from Grand Teton to Coeur d’Alene Idaho (we chose to do this entire 9 hours in a day with quick stops)
  • Route takes you through Yellowstone (make sure to have NP pass!)
  • Idaho 87, then 287N (scenic)
  • Quick stops in Ennis and Phillipsburg
  • Grab lunch in Missoula
  • Stop in Wallace
  • Stay 2 nights at the Hampton Inn & Suites

DAY 10: (june21)-

  • Explore CDA
  • Check out Sandpoint
  • Quick hike Viewski loop trail (1.5m, 223ft)
  • Hike in Farragut State Park – Evans Landing (4.0m, 1,135ft)
  • Dinner at Collective Kitchen

DAY 11: 

  • Drive CDA to Lewiston (2hr 15min)
  • Stop in Steptoe Butte State Park, beautiful, unusual landscape
  • Spend some time at the wineries in Lewiston/Clarkston area
    • *This area is covered with vineyards. Just be sure to check their hours as many of them are closed on Mondays (which, of course, is when we were there). Thankful that Basalt Cellars and Merry Cellars were open! 
  • Lunch at Roosters and it was one of our favorite food stops on the trip (possibly influenced by post-vineyard hunger) 
  • Stay at Hampton Inn Lewiston

DAY 12: 

  • Jet boat tour of Hells Canyon via Snake River
    • *We got incredibly lucky here. Our plan was to hike in Hells Canyon, but we had a lot of trouble finding trails. We met a local at Rooster who told us the best way to see the canyon is by jet boat, and he just happened to know someone who would be willing to take us out last minute. We didn’t have to go through a tour company, but there are multiple options available here, here and here
  • Drive Lewiston/Clarkson to Boise (5 hr, 15 min)
  • Stop in McCall
  • Stay 3 nights at Hilton Garden Inn

DAY 13:

  • Explore Boise – Rose Garden, Feak alley for murals, Albertsons Stadium, Boise River Greenbelt
  • Stopped for a few cocktails at Juniper and Hyde Park Pub because it was SO hot out
  • Lunch at 13th Street
  • Dinner at Solid


  • Get up early to hike Table Rock Trail (3.7m, 879 ft. elev. gain)
  • Drinks at Fork
  • River float!
    • We bought a few floats at Meyer and put them in at Barber Park
  • Dinner at Taphouse


  • Drive Boise to Stanley (3 hr)
  • Stop in Idaho City
  • Start late hike Hell Roaring Canyon Trail (10.7m, 728 ft. elev. gain) It was awful, boring, hot, and buggy until the lake at the end
  • Dinner at Sawtooth Luce’s
  • Stay 2 nights at Redfish Riverside Inn – loved it so much highly recommend!


  • Hike Sawtooth Lake (10m., 1,873 ft. elev. gain) Amazing the whole way
  • Tried to check out Redfish Lake area, it was so crowded we couldn’t find anywhere to park


  • Drive Stanley to Ketchum via Sawtooth Scenic Byway (1 hr, 10 min)
  • Hike Pioneer Cabin (8 m., 2,572 ft. elev. gain) One of my most favorite hikes ever, worth the work it takes to get to the end
  • Drinks at Warfield
  • Lunch/drinks at the Cellar Pub
  • Try the loaded potato at the Pioneer Saloon
  • Stay at Best Western Plus 


  • Drive Ketchum to SLC (4 hr 30 min)
  • Stop in Shoshone
  • Stop at Perrine Memorial Bridge
  • Stop in Twin Falls – to see Shoshone Falls
  • We used to love visiting SLC, but it’s changed a lot in the last few years – Still enjoyed our drinks at Beerhive Pub and dinner at the Green Pig
  • Stay 2 nights at the Hilton Garden Inn 


  • No trip to SLC is complete without hiking the Living Room
  • Wander around Sugar House Park
  • Dinner at Cafe Molise


Did you know?

Boise was the fastest growing city in the country 3 years in a row.

What are some things I need to consider before planning a trip to Idaho?  The time of year. If hiking is high on your agenda for this itinerary,  you’ll want to wait until mid to late summer. I couldn’t do several of the hikes I wanted to due to significant snow and ice coverage, even in June. 

How much time do I need in Idaho?  Our total itinerary was 20 days, but we included a few spots outside of the state, so you could definitely shorten it if needed. 

What do I need to know about stopping in National Parks?  It’s really important that you keep up with the latest news and information from the parks. You can follow them on social media, go to each park’s direct website, or download the NPS App. You’ll want to know about things like recent fires in the area, road closures, or timed entry requirements. For example, more popular parks recently started requiring a reservation to enter the park during certain times. Not all parks have an entrance fee, but if you plan to visit more than 1 in a year it usually makes sense to purchase an annual pass

What about temperatures and packing?  You’ll need to be savvy about packing. Temps in Boise could be up in the 80’s, but you might still get snowed on (we did) while  hiking up in the mountains of Sun Valley.