Post Summary: Amazing locations to explore in the Inland Northwest and where to find them.
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?
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!
16 Stunning Locations To Visit In The Inland Northwest
1. Backcountry Camping In Idaho City
Park of the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department in the state of Idaho provides six yurts for rent year-round just outside of Idaho City. This area is located in the Boise National Forest, just a 1.5-hours drive north of the city. It’s the perfect winter weekend getaway from Boise, Idaho!
Here, you can snowshoe or Nordic ski up groomed trails a few miles and reach a secluded and private yurt. There are endless options for winter activities to do here, and you can read more about it in the blog post attached below!
2. Coeur d’Alene Idaho
This North Idaho city sits at the foot of adventure in all directions. Discover our 7-Day Northern Idaho Itinerary for more ideas in this part of the Inland Northwest!
No matter what activity you choose, there’s always something adventurous do to around Coeur d’Alene, Idaho!
3. 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! It’s a little bit of a drive from places like Seattle or Spokane, but certain routes to Palouse Falls will bring you through some of the best Washington scenic driving routes, for an adventure right from the start!
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 during 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!
4. 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 sandboards 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!
If you can’t get a campsite in the park, consider finding one for free on nearby national forest land or BLM land with The Dyrt! It’s a campground finding app, which we use on nearly all of our trips! Try their pro membership free for 90-days when using our code MANDAGIES90!
READ MORE: 8 Vital Reasons To Travel With Your Friends
5. 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 in 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
6. 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.
Want more suggestions including water? Read about all the Idaho hot springs you can enjoy year-round!
7. Craters of the Moon National Preserve
Craters of the Moon is the ideal weekend trip in the Inland Northwest. With amazing sights around every corner, there’s no time to sit around!
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!
8. Boise, Idaho (and Surrounding Wine Country)
The capital city of Idaho has the absolute perfect blend of city life and outdoor adventure in the Inland Northwest. Every time we return, there’s a new hike to take or a 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
9. Glacier National Park
Berty and I took a one-week Glacier road trip itinerary 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!
PLAN AHEAD: 30 Essentials You Need To Pack For A Road Trip
10. Yellowstone National Park
Berty and I came to visit Yellowstone National Park in early April. An easy way reach the North Entrance of the park is to start your journey in Bozeman, Montana. From here, you can rent a car and drive 1.5 hours south to start your adventure.
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!
11. Jackson, Wyoming (Grand Teton National Park)
Jackson, Wyoming is not only for ski bums!
Berty and his friends drove here in the dead of winter to see the Grand Teton National Park. 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 scenic flights through Fly Jackson Hole.
You can also check out our winter things to do in Jackson Hole in this post!
12. 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!
13. Leslie Gulch
Leslie Gulch is a part of the Owyhee Wilderness in Eastern Oregon – one of the largest unprotected areas in the United States.
Formed by thousands of years of flash floods and erosion, this gulch is known for its towering rock formations and scenic drive. Make sure to do your research before coming out here – the landscape can be unforgiving to the unprepared traveler. Read everything you need to know about visiting Leslie Gulch here.
14. The Feathers
The Feathers (or also called Frenchman Coulee) is a campground and popular climbing spot near Vantage, Washington. Here, there are several beginner-friendly routes, which are popular in Washington for their drier climate, thus extended climbing season.
Here, you can camp for free (with a WA Discovery Pass) and explore the Columbia River area. This is a great spot to camp with friends but be prepared – this place can get pretty noisy during the busy season!
15. Joseph, Oregon
Joseph, Oregon is a small mountain town, located in Northeast Oregon. It is tucked away at the base of the Wallowa National Forest, serving as a basecamp for many mountain adventures!
One of our favorite places to stay at in Joseph is The Jennnings Hotel. This artist-collaboration space means that every room is a unique piece of art, and their common spaces hold that same level of care and creativity.
16. Kootenai Falls
If you find yourself on Highway 2 on a Northern Idaho road trip, don’t forget to take a trip to Kootenai Falls! This is a famous waterfall for being featured in the film The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio, in a scene where he is fleeing a group and jumps into the river. (Although we don’t recommend YOU jumping in!)
In addition to the falls, you are also able to visit the Swinging Bridge, which has been recently renovated as of 2020. Both of these features are connected via a short trail, with convenient parking and accessible bathrooms.
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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