20 Idaho State Parks

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Idaho isn’t a state that gets talked about a lot in terms of international tourism, however it’s a wonderful place to explore the outdoors and there are some surprising and amazing places to visit. There’s no better way to explore Idaho’s outdoors than through the state park system. Check out these 20 best state parks in Idaho for some trip inspiration.

Idaho State Parks

20 State Parks In Idaho

1- Bruneau Dunes State Park

Massive due in Bruneau Dunes State Park Idaho
One of the most impressive state parks in Idaho is Bruneau Dunes State Park.

Bruneau Dunes State Park is in southern Idaho next to the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

This is a stunning state park and it is also home to the tallest free standing sand dunes in North America! The highest sand dune is 470 feet.

The sand dunes aren’t just beautiful to look at, they also provide many activities.

You can climb up and down the dunes, you can rent sandboards and surf down the hills.

If you visit during autumn the few trees and plants that surround the dunes turn beautiful shades of orange.

There are two campsites in the park: Broken Wheel and Eagle Cove.

It is the perfect location to gaze up at the nights starry sky and you can also look through the parks Observatory.

Bruneau Dunes State Park is at 27608 Bruneau Sand Dunes Rd, Bruneau, ID 83604. 

2- Bear Lake State Park

Tucked away in the extreme southeast of Idaho on the border with Utah is Bear Lake State Park.

The top two thirds of Bear Lake is in Idaho but the bottom is in Utah.

Idaho’s Bear Lake State Park is sometimes called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because of the serene crystal blue waters.

The lake itself is 20 miles long and close to the Cache National Forest.

This park is popular among water lovers.

You can bring your own boats, swimsuits, sunscreen and fishing gear for a full day of fun on the lake.

There’s a two-mile-long swimming beach at the North Beach Unit.

Other facilities in the park include volleyball courts and biking trails.

For camping you can stay at the East Beach Unit where there are 50 campsites with electric hook-ups.

Bear Lake State Park is at 1767 Eastshore Rd, St Charles, ID 83272.

3- Massacre Rocks State Park

Cliff and river at Massacre Rocks State Park Idaho
One of the state parks in Idaho with dramatic scenery is Massacre Rocks State.

Massacre Rocks State Park is on Snake River off Highway 86 in southern Idaho.

This is a wonderful year-round state park with an interesting history.

The name of the park derives from an emigrant wagon party dispute.

Two miles from the park is a large boulder which features signatures of those walking the Oregon Trail.

The area is rich in geological history as well with an abundance of volcanic remains.

Today you can combine a trip to Register Rock with a visit to Massacre Rocks State Park.

There are plenty of hiking trails in the park as well as climbing opportunities and biking trails too.

There is also a top-quality disc golf course which just so happens to be one of the most challenging courses in Idaho.

Massacre Rocks State Park is at 3592 W Park St, American Falls, ID 83211.

4- Farragut State Park

forest and grass in Farragut State Park Idaho
One of the state parks in Idaho to tick off your to-explore list is Farragut State Park.

Farragut State Park is at the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho.

The park is set in 4,000 acres of Idaho wilderness and one of the most popular activities at the park is hiking.

There are more than 40 miles of hiking trails which you can explore on foot or bike and even on skis or with snowshoes in winter.

As you hike through the pine trees you can enjoy breathtaking views of the lake.

The park used to be used as a WW2 era naval training station.

There is a museum you can visit at the former Farragut Naval Training Station.

The lake is actually the largest and deepest in the state.

You can launch your boats and enjoy plenty of activities on the lake.

This park has more than 260 campsites spread out across several campgrounds.

The park is able to accommodate RV camping as well as traditional tented camping.

Farragut State Park is at 13550 ID-54, Athol, ID 83801.

5- Old Mission State Park

green trees and hills in old mission state park
One of the state parks in Idaho to explore is the Old Mission State Park.

Also known as Coeur d’ Alene’s Old Mission State Park, this place is home to Idaho’s oldest building.

The Sacred Heart Mission was built in the 1850s by Catholic missionaries and members of the indigenous community.

While you can take photos of the building and walk around the grounds you can also head to the visitor centre to learn more about the area.

You will find this state park close to the Coeur d’Alene River and 30 minutes from Coeur d’Alene.

Old Mission State Park is at 31732 S Mission Rd, Cataldo, ID 83810.

6- Lucky Peak State Park

Lucky Peak State Park is in western Idaho close to Boise.

There are actually two park units.

The Lucky Peak State Park Unit 1 and the Lucky Park State Park Spring Shores Unit.

They are just a 10-minute drive from one another.

If you are staying in Boise, you can actually reach the state park by bike on the Boise River Greenbelt in just 30 minutes.

When you arrive, you will want to head to Sandy Point Beach.

At Spring Shores there’s a boat ramp, a full-service marina and you can rent boats and paddleboards.

There is also a disc golf course at Sandy Point which is open during spring and autumn.

Lucky Peak State Park is at 9725 ID-21, Boise, ID 83716.

7- Mary M. McCroskey State Park

Mary M. McCroskey State Park is close to the Coeur D’Alene Reservation in northwestern Idaho, close to the border with Washington state.

This park is known for its beautiful views of the Palouse Divide.

The park is surrounded by cedar forests making for the perfect getaway in nature.

The park has excellent camping facilities including four campgrounds: Fireplace, Mission Mountain, Iron Mountain and Redtail.

The park is home to a series of trails that are frequented by mountain bikers and horse riders.

Skyline Drive that runs through the park has also become a popular route for UTV’s and ATV’s.

Mary M. McCroskey State Park is at Farmington, ID 99128.

8- Heyburn State Park

idaho state parks heyburn coeur dalenes
The Coeur D’Alenes bridge in Heyburn State Park, Idaho.

You will find Heyburn State Park at the bottom of Chatcolet Lake in northwestern Idaho.

The park is around 40 minutes’ drive from Coeur d’Alene.

The park dates back to 1908 making it one of the oldest parks in the Pacific Northwest.

The park is filled with ponderosa pine trees and meadows with flowers.

Then of course there’s Chatcolet Lake.

There is an abundance of trails to explore for hikers, bikers and horse riders.

The trails are also an excellent place to discover birdlife.

One of the best trails in the park is the Indian Cliff Trail which is a three-mile loop and shows visitors lovely views of Chatcolet Lake.

Bikers are drawn to the park as part of the 73-mile Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes runs through the park.

For water activities you can head to the lake for boating and fishing.

Heyburn State Park is at 57 Chatcolet Lower Rd, Plummer, ID 83851.

9- Lake Walcott State Park

Lake Walcott State Park is on the edge of the high desert around an hour’s drive from twin falls.

There’s plenty to do at this Idaho state park.

There’s an awesome disc golf course, a park for family activities and plenty of picnic shelters to enjoy a BBQ. 

There’s plenty of wildlife that is attracted to the lake’s shoreline including raccoons, porcupines, songbirds and mule deer.

You can also spot pelicans on the water too.

The campground at the park has 47 family campsites, 22 water and electricity hook-ups and 18 standard sites.

Lake Walcott State Park is at 959 Minidoka Dam Rd, Rupert, ID 83350, United States.

10- Hells Gate State Park

You might not fancy going to the gates of hell, but this state park is one of the most popular in Idaho.

You will find Hells Gate State Park in northern Idaho along the Snake River on the Washington border.

The park is less than 15 minutes’ drive from Lewiston.

Within the park you will find the Lewis and Clark Discovery Centre and the Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage & Education Center.

These are really interesting places to visit and allow you to discover more about America’s history.

You can also take a super fun jet boat river up the Snake River into one of the deepest canyons in North America!

Camping overnight at Hells Gate State Park is convenient and easy.

There are more than 80 campsites, 50 of which are suitable for RVs with full hook-up.

Hells Gate State Park is at 5100 Hells Gate Rd, Lewiston, ID 83501.

11- Ponderosa State Park

sunlight filtering through the trees in Ponderosa State Park Idaho
Gentle rays of sunlight filtering through the trees in Ponderosa State Park, Idaho.

Named after the ponderosa pine tree which is native to the Northern American mountainous regions you will find this state park in central western Idaho.

The park is right on Payette Lake.

The park is actually on the peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake.

The main activities to enjoy at this state park are fishing, hiking, and camping.

If you love birdwatching and photography, be sure to bring your camera and binoculars as there are many bald eagles in the park.

You can spend the night at the Peninsula Campground which accommodates RVs and tent campers.

If you are looking for something more luxurious there are the Deluxe Lakeside Cabins.

They come complete with fully stocked kitchens and spacious living rooms.

Some of the cabins can sleep up to eight people.

Ponderosa State Park is at 1920 Davis Ave, McCall, ID 83638.

12- Thousand Springs State Park

High waterfall trickling down rock face in thousand springs
One of the most stunning Idaho state parks is Thousand Springs state park.

Thousand Springs State Park is less than 40 miles northwest of Twin Falls.

At the park there are actually a few state park units but all are within a short drive of one another.

The park is around 2000 acres in size and one of the best ways to explore the park is via the 68 mile Thousand Springs Scenic Byway.

On this scenic byway you will be able to see Shoshone Falls as well as Thousand Springs State Park.

One of the best things to see in this state park is Malad Gorge.

This area showcases the Malad River which travels through the impressive and rugged canyon.

You can go horse riding at Billingsley Creek, look at some historic structures on Ritter Island and hike around the Box Canyon Nature Preserve.

It should be noted that this is a day use only park and its open from sunrise to sunset, with no camping facilities.

Thousand Springs State Park is at 17970 US-30, Hagerman, ID 83332.

13- Castle Rocks State Park

Not to be confused with California’s Castle Rock State Park, this park is in the south of Idaho around 1 hour 35 minutes from Twin Falls.

With rocks in the name of the park there’s no surprise that this is a wonderful rock-climbing spot.

Rocks in the area date back 2.5 million years.

The park has the Smoky Mountain Campground which has 38 campsites available.

There are also deluxe cabins and glamping yurts.

Staying overnight means you can also visit the nearby City of Rocks National Reserve.

Castle Rock State Park is at 748 E Castle Rock Rd, Almo, ID 83312.

14- Harriman State Park

Harriman State Park is in eastern Idaho close to the Montana and Wyoming borders.

The park is actually part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and is more than 11,000 acres.

There are 22 miles of hiking trails in the park.

In winter you can enjoy 24 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails which are perfect for fat biking and snowshoeing as well.

Many of these trail’s meander through the meadows, through forest and along the river banks.

Keen anglers will be pleased to know that this state park offers some of the best fly-fishing waters in the state.

Wildlife and nature lovers will enjoy keeping their eyes peeled for moose, elk and trumpeter swans.

For overnight visits there are rustic yurts or the Ranch Manager’s House.

It should be noted that there are no camping facilities at the park.

Harriman State Park is at 3489 Green Canyon Rd, Island Park, ID 83429.

15- Dworshak State Park

Dworshak State Park is in Lenore on the banks of the Dworshak Reservoir in northern Idaho.

This beautiful Idaho state park features the reservoir with a backdrop of trees and meadows.

People heading to the lake enjoy boating and water skiing.

There’s a boat ramp and even a fish cleaning station for those who were lucky to catch on the water.

You can try your luck at catching bass and kokanee salmon and eating them for lunch or dinner later.

For overnight stays there’s the Freeman Creek Campground.

The campground has plenty of fun things to do including a playground, volleyball courts and horseshoes.

Dworshak State Park is at Lenore, ID 83541.

16- Lake Cascade State Park

There are 86 miles of shoreline at Lake Cascade State Park to enjoy.

You will find this park in western Idaho around 1 hour 40 minutes’ drive north of Boise.

Many people from across the state drive to Lake Cascade for all sorts of water recreational fun.

You will find windsurfers and sailboats enjoying the waters and anglers trying to catch rainbow trout, coho salmon and small-mouth ball throughout the year.

For land-based activities there are a series of hiking and biking trails some of which lead you beyond the boundaries of the park.

There are 279 campsites across 10 developed campgrounds, there’s also primitive camping.

Lake Cascade State Park is at 100 Kelly’s Pkwy, Cascade, ID 83611.

17- Priest Lake State Park

You can’t get much more north than Priest Lake State Park.

The park is close to the Canadian border.

Cedar and fir trees line the lake and there’s the wonderful backdrop of the Selkirk Mountains.

The parks surrounding the natural landscape have resulted in the park becoming home to black bear, moose, whitetail deer and bald eagles.

The park’s Indian Creek Unit is close to the middle of the lake and is open year-round.

Here there are plenty of park facilities including a visitor centre, swimming beach, boat ramp and a campground.

Further north there is also the Lionhead Unit.

Here there is a boat launch and primitive camping.

Priest Lake State Park is at 314 Indian Creek Park Rd, Coolin, ID 83821.

18- Henrys Lake State Park

Henrys Lake State Park is in eastern Idaho close to the Montana and Wyoming borders.

This is one of Idaho’s high mountain lakes and it’s well worth a visit.

It is also just 15 miles from Yellowstone National Park.

The lake is popular with anglers as they wait patiently for the unusual cut-bow hybrid trout as well as brook trout and cutthroat trout.

Henrys Lake is actually considered to be one of the best trout fishing lakes in the West.

In addition to fishing there are also plenty of hiking and biking trails that are surrounded by wildflowers.

You will also be in with the chance of seeing local wildlife.

Henrys Lake State Park is at 3917 E. 5100 N, Island Park, ID 83429.

19- Three Island Crossing State Park

Three Island Crossing State Park is on the banks of the Snake River in southern Idaho.

The park is around an hour’s drive from Twin Falls and close by to the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

The park marks the point where the Oregon Trail crosses the Snake River.

While at the park you can really get a feel for the history of the first river crossings that happened during the 1840s.

There is also the Oregon Trail History and Education Center within the park where you can learn more about the history of the area by looking at their fascinating exhibits.

Popular activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, and disc golf.

You can stay overnight at the campground where there are 80 campsites and eight cabins.

Three Island Crossing State Park is at 1083 S Three Island Park Dr, Glenns Ferry, ID 83623.

20- Winchester Lake State Park

Winchester Lake State Park is close to Lewiston and the Washington border in western Idaho.

Anglers head to Winchester Lake State Park to try and catch the elusive tiger muskie.

If you don’t get lucky trying to catch that fish then there are also rainbow trout and catfish as well.

There are plenty of hiking routes that lead around the lake and mountain bikers can use them too.

For accommodation why not stay in one of the park’s yurts.

Some yurts come with bicycles and others come with canoes and in winter snowshoes are provided.

There’s also a couple of campsites as well which are surrounded by ponderosa pines.

Some of the sites have views of the lake.

Winchester Lake State Park is at 1786 Forest Rd, Winchester, ID 83555, United States

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!