You probably hear a lot about the Pacific Northwest. Its gorgeous mountains, stunning coastline, and hundreds of miles of trails make it hard to beat! But did you know, that only a half-day’s drive away, there is another region worth checking out called the Inland Northwest? This area and its borders can differ depending on the person, but we like to define it as eastern Washington, Idaho, western Montana, and parts of Wyoming and Oregon! In this post, We’re going to throw a broad net around this region and highlight some of our favorite places, just east of the Pacific Ocean!
11 Stunning Locations To Visit In The Inland Northwest
1. Spokane, Washington
Every time we return here (Spokane is my hometown), the city gets better and better! One of its main attractions is Riverfront Park. Built and used for the 1974 World’s Fair, this park in the center of Spokane has been a beautiful public attraction ever since! It hosts an ice rink in the winter, a classical carousel, and it is home to the biggest 3 on 3 basketball tournament every year in June. Just outside of the city are beautiful lakes, lots of camping options, and tons of hikes for a quick weekend getaway! This city has the perfect blend of urban and outdoor recreation suited for any and all visitors.
READ MORE: 5 Adventurous PNW Cities You Need To Visit
2. Palouse Falls
This awesome waterfall is the result of glacial floods many years ago. It is Washington’s official state waterfall, which means it’s definitely a must-see for outdoor lovers! We suggest trying to catch it during sunrise or sunset for the most dramatic views. There is a campground in the area for easy access on those golden hours. There is also a dirt trail that leads into the canyon, but the State Park strongly encourages hikers not to use it because it’s pretty dangerous. If you stray off the paths, hike at your own risk!
3. Bruneau Sand Dunes
Take just a 45 minute drive outside of Boise and you’ll arrive at Bruneau Dunes State Park. This site is home to North America’s largest single-structured sand dune (470 feet tall!). From the park, you can rent sand boards and sled down the dunes or even horseback ride through the park. Campsites are available on-site as well as an observatory that lets people go stargazing on a clear night. The sunsets here are hard to beat! More Information: Bruneau Dunes Official Site
READ MORE: 8 Vital Reasons To Travel With Your Friends
4. Maryhill Stonehenge
This hidden gem of Washington is on the edge of the Columbia River, bordering Washington and Oregon. It was made as a replica of the famous Stonehenge in England and deemed a WWI memorial dedicated to remembering those who lost their lives from Klickitat County. We arrived there at sunrise and it was a quiet moment as we walked around reading the plaques of those who died in the war. (Some were only 19 years old!!) We suggest coming during sunrise too, for a beautiful warm glow across this epic structure.
Read More: Visiting Maryhill Stonehenge At Sunrise
5. Shoshone Falls
Like we always seem to do, we came here to see the sunrise. Shoshone Falls is commonly referred to as the “Niagara of the West” and for good reason too! It’s slightly taller than Niagara Falls, though not as wide, and it can dump over 20,000 cubic feet of water **per second**!! Come during spring for the most powerful force of water! There are a few viewpoint spots and lookouts so you can check out the falls from different perspectives. The nearest town is Twin Falls, Idaho and after visiting Shoshone Falls we stopped to get coffee at Java!
6. Craters of the Moon National Preserve
Established in 1924, this lava field covers 618 square miles of Idaho and is a spectacular natural site. Inside the park, there are preserved volcanic spatter cones, lava tubes, fields of different types of lava, and beautiful natural landscapes. The park is full of weird black dirt and jagged hills of crumbling lava rock – it’s a must-visit on any trip to Idaho. Make sure to go camping here to enjoy it when the sun goes down, and experience some epic star-gazing! We recently wrote an article about this place – definitely read it if you plan to go!
7. Boise, Idaho (and Surrounding Wine Country)
The capital city of Idaho has the absolute perfect blend of city life and outdoor adventure. Every time we return, there’s a new hike to take or new restaurant to try. We were pleasantly surprised to also find that they had a pretty big coffee scene – last time we were there we tried to visit as many as we could! If you are looking to stick around and explore the Inland Northwest in depth, consider staying in Boise. It’s only a day’s drive away from lots of attractions like Yellowstone National Park, ski resorts, deserts, Salt Lake City, Spokane, and so much more!
Read More: 11 Epic Things To Do In Boise, Idaho
Read More: Exploring Idaho’s Wine Country
8. Glacier National Park
Berty and I took a road trip here for our honeymoon! Our first stop was Banff National Park, and Glacier National Park was our final stop. We spent a week here, driving to every corner of the park, enjoying spectacular views and visiting quiet, scenic lakes. Some of our favorite destinations were Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake McDonald, and Lake Josephine. Our advice is to arm your car with snacks, good playlists, and lots of patience for yourself because this park is BIG. Come in late June/July/August and the Going To The Sun Road will be open!
SEE MORE: Honeymoon Pt. 2 Glacier National Park
PLAN AHEAD: 30 Essentials You Need To Pack For A Road Trip
9. Yellowstone National Park
Berty and I came to visit Yellowstone in early April. Little did we know, the park was still covered in snow, so only a fraction of it was open. Boo! On the bright side, since we didn’t come during the busy season, we got what was open of the park practically all to ourselves! That little taste of Mammoth Hot Springs got us curious enough to plan a return trip sometime in the near future. Yellowstone could take up to a week to fully explore the park. Grab a National Park Annual Pass if seeing the NP’s are your thing this summer. You’ll save a ton of money. Annual Passes are $80, and an average entry into a National Park is $30. So if you plan to go to at least 3 times this year, it’s already worth it!
10. Jackson, Wyoming (Grand Tetons)
Jackson, Wyoming is not only for ski bums! Berty and his friends drove here in the dead of winter to see the Grand Tetons. This national park is famous for mountaineering, which means there are tons of backcountry trails and natural landscapes to explore. Grand Teton National Park is also just south of Yellowstone, which means you can easily visit both in one trip. If you are looking for where Berty experienced his winter flight above the mountains, you can take private flights through Fly Jackson Hole here!
11. McCall, Idaho
McCall, Idaho is a mountain town two hours north of the city of Boise. This town is known for their enormous amount of outdoor activities! In the summertime, you can kayak on the Payette Lake, hike, mountain bike, and drive around on the many forest roads. In the winter you can indulge in all sorts of winter sports on Brundage Mountain and even come for their annual winter carnival! You can also visit in the winter to hunt for the many nearby hot springs and get outside for a backcountry soak!
Where will you go next in the Inland Northwest? Do you know of any more gems in this region? Let us know in the comments below!
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