Outdoorsy things to do less than 4 hours from Boise, Idaho?
April 1, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Looking for mountains and lakes for hiking and swimming not far from Boise.

I will be visiting my very non-outdoorsy brother in Boise this summer (so I can't get advice from him), and would like to take some time to see nearby nature and mountains after spending time with him in Boise. I can rent a car, so I'm looking for day trips from Boise (< 2 hours), and also potentially a 2-3 night trip that is less than a 4-5 hour drive each way. The things I would be most interested in are hiking with spectacular views (not longer than ~10 miles), swimming (but not one of those roped off lake beaches with hundreds of kids splashing around), and maybe ATV rental (but I'd need either a tour or a very clear map with easy trails).

I see that the Boise National Forest is close, and I am looking through the list of hikes on their website, but none of them have good pictures or descriptions. So do you know of any hikes that have awesome dramatic mountain views that fit the driving distance limitations above? If yes, please let me know which hikes I should do, or what other state/national forests/parks I should go to, since I will have a limited number of days, and I'd like to enjoy the outdoors as much as I can.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. to Travel & Transportation around Boise, ID (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
i thoroughly enjoyed Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley, ID, and tubing right in Boise itself. these suggestions may not be outdoorsy enough for you, but check them out.
posted by smokyjoe at 1:05 PM on April 1, 2013

I'm not going to recommend anything specific beyond heading towards Stanley and the Sawtooth mountains. A well-travelled relative recommended Trails of the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains and I've found it helpful. You might pick up a copy and see what sounds nice.

The Lemhi range is awfully nice, too, but very remote and at the edge of your driving distance.
posted by jeffch at 1:31 PM on April 1, 2013

Basically anything in the Sawtooths is going to be stunning. I would do my 2-3 day trip there. Really, in a 4 hour radius of Boise there is an embarrassment of riches with respect to outdoors activities.
posted by rockindata at 2:24 PM on April 1, 2013

If you haven't seen them, you should go to Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls. There isn't much in the way of hiking, but you get a mini-Niagara out there.
posted by tau_ceti at 2:36 PM on April 1, 2013

Bruneau Sand Dunes.

Drive up to Stanley and see the Sawtooths, including finding a place to hike therein. Plenty of great hiking right off highway 21.

They're a bit further away, but Shoshone Ice Caves and Craters of the Moon. SIC is a bit of a tourist-trap, but it is interesting to see an enormous, frozen cave in the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer.

A bit more off the beaten path is Leslie Gulch, about 1 hour outside of Boise just over the border in Oregon.
posted by Hatashran at 2:57 PM on April 1, 2013

Wish I was back in Boise for all of the nearby hikes. For some day trips you might want to consider heading up to the Trinities or maybe some of the hot springs up the Middle and/or South Forks of the Boise River. If you head up toward McCall, there are also lots of opportunities including Hells Canyon.
posted by pappy at 5:14 PM on April 2, 2013

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