Post Summary: 10 Incredible Boise Day Trips To Plan This Weekend
Looking to fill your days with a little adventure? Sure, there are a ton of things to do in Boise, but when you open the door to epic day trips from the city, your options explode with even more possibilities to fill your day!
Keep reading because we’re sharing the top day trips from Boise, from gorgeous hot springs, incredible hiking trails, and epic camping opportunities. Let get started!
What To Pack For A Day Trip From Boise
Sunscreen: Lots of these day trips near Boise are located in the Snake River Valley, which emulates a high-desert environment. Expect there to be little shade at your destinations, so make sure to pack some sunscreen and a hat for skin protection!
Hiking Shoes: Some of these Boise day trips can include hiking down into canyons, exploring caves, and searching for hot springs. Keep your feet protected and supported with closed-toed shoes, ideally with some ankle support! We recommend these super-comfy Clarion 88s by Vasque.
Swimsuit + Towel: If you are planning to visit some iconic hot springs in Idaho, you definitely need to bring a swimsuit and towel!
Day Pack: Consider bringing a day pack to easily carry your items from the car to your destination. We really like the REI Flashbacks, because they can hold a ton of stuff, but pack down easily when not in use!
The 10 Essentials: If you are considering taking some hikes in Idaho, it’s important to be prepared with all the essentials for hiking in the Pacific Northwest.
Downloaded Offline Maps: When driving to these farther day trips from Idaho, you’ll likely lose cell service! Make sure to download some offline maps to navigate without the internet – and we’re showing you how to download offline maps here (look for the “google hacks!).
10 Incredible Day Trips From Boise, Idaho For Outdoor Lovers
1. Kirkham Hot Springs
Distance from Boise: 80 miles, 1-hour 45 minute drive
A trip to Kirkham Hot Springs is probably one of the easiest and most convenient day trips from Boise, Idaho – as far as hot springs go! Once there, you will find a parking lot, pit toilets, and even a campground if you decide your day trip should be extended.
Kirkham Hot Springs is a large collection of pools located on the side of the Payette River. Each pool has its own features, and vary in depth, temperature, and size. This is a really fun and popular place for soakers, so don’t expect to have it all to yourself, but rather make some friends!
Make sure to pack water shoes like these Tevas, because we found the rocks to be extremely slippery and sharp walking between pools.
Want more tips for hot springs? Check out our Idaho hot springs guide for more ideas on what to pack and other pools nearby!
2. Pine Flats Hot Springs
Distance from Boise: 70 miles, 1.5-hour drive
Pine Flats Hot Springs is a series of natural pools located on the cliffside of the Payette River. The seasons determine which pools are accessible – in the springtime, the river levels are too high to access the farthest pools, but that didn’t affect us much on our latest trip in June.
Guests of the nearby campground can take the quick 10-minute walk to these Idaho hot springs free of charge, but outside guests need to pay a $5 parking fee before visiting.
Not ready to leave? You can camp nearby at Pine Flats Campground! We booked our stay through The Dyrt, which is an app that helps us find campgrounds on the go. We don’t plan a trip without it! (and click here to try it free for 90 days!)
3. Backcountry Snowshoeing / Nordic Skiing in the Boise National Forest
Distance from Boise: 60 miles, 1.5-hours
If you are seeking out a fun winter day trip from Boise in the winter, consider checking out the Boise National Forest! Just an hour’s drive from Boise is the Idaho City Ranger District, which provides several Park ‘N Ski areas for plenty of groomed trails for nordic skiing and snowshoeing.
This is a unique area of Idaho’s national forest ski routes, as they are regularly maintained and groomed. This area is perfect for beginners because of the many trail options, easy slopes, and even a downloadable trail app for your phone (courtesy of the Idaho Parks and Rec department!).
Read to make it an overnight trip? Book a stay at the Idaho City Yurts – it’s a hike-in only backcountry yurt camping destination!
4. Hike To Blue Lake
Distance from Boise: 80 miles, 2-hour drive
Just out of Cascade, Idaho in the Boise National Forest is one of the best day hikes near Boise – a quiet place called Blue Lake. The drive takes 2 hours from the city, making it one of the best day trips from Boise for some solitude and nature.
To get to Blue Lake, turn left on to NF-446 (about 20 miles before Cascade, Idaho) and drive 11 miles to the Blue Lake Trailhead. The road is dirt and gravel, but well maintained in the spring and summer seasons.
We recommend hiking this easy 1-mile Idaho trail in the morning. If you come during wildflower season, the color will sweep across the rolling hills and pair well with the big boulders and towering pine trees of the landscape. Pack a picnic (and maybe even your swimsuit, too!) for the top – Blue Lake’s shores are perfect for relaxing.
5. The Springs In Idaho City
Distance from Boise: 40 miles, 50-minute drive
The Springs in Idaho City is a commercial mountain resort, known for its luxury mountain spa setting, relaxing pools, and private suites. It’s the perfect destination for those that want a hot springs experience AND want a clean and peaceful environment to do so. It’s also one of the prettiest day drives from Boise – winding through the rolling foothills and then entering the Boise National Forest until you reach Idaho City.
The pools are by reservation only to help keep the ambiance and capacity peaceful for all. During your time, you will have access to poolside food and drink orders, and can enjoy your meal under a heated tent just steps away! This is the perfect day trip from Boise for rest and relaxation!
6. Kuna Caves
Distance from Boise: 26 miles, 30-minute drive
Love spelunking? Surprisingly, Idaho is full of cool caves to explore! Left behind from lava tubes just south of Boise are Kuna Caves, a local hangout spot, and an unexplored mystery for visitors. Quite literally in the middle of farmland (on BLM land), there are no signs to the caves so you will have to rely on Google Maps satellite imaging to get you there.
Once at the entrance of Kuna Caves, you’ll have to brave the 50-foot long encaged metal ladder that descends to the bottom. It is said that Kuna Caves is longer than the commonly known quarter-mile distance, but you won’t find us descending any deeper – that’s spooky! Unfortunately, this place is covered in graffiti and trash, so please practice leave no trace principles and please don’t add to the mess!
7. Jump Creek Falls
Distance from Boise: 45 miles, 1-hour drive
Nothing is better than a refreshing dip on a hot day! That’s why Boise adventurers love heading over to Jump Creek Falls, a quick and easy day trip from Boise, Idaho. Jump Creek Trail leads you to a 60-foot tall waterfall among towering canyon walls, creating an amazing swimming hole that’s fun for the whole family.
The falls are day-use only, but there are plenty of fire rings around the area for picnics. The swimming hole at Jump Creek Falls isn’t the only thing to do in this canyon near Marsing, Idaho – you can spend an entire weekend exploring the canyon trails!
8. Bruneau Dunes State Park
Distance from Boise: 60 miles, 1-hour drive
Bruneau Sand Dunes is home to the tallest single sand dune structure in North America! With one of the longest camping seasons in Idaho, Bruneau Dunes provides tons of opportunities for overnight stays under the stars, and plenty of chances to go sandboarding. We especially loved the sunsets here – it felt like we were halfway across the world!
Bruneau Dunes State Park is also one of the best spots in the state to stargaze! Observatory nights are Fridays and Saturdays between March and October, so come then to hear from a park ranger and peek through the telescopes. The park is on its way to earning its recognition as an International Dark Sky Park, meaning it is limiting light pollution for optimal star observation.
9. Tea Kettle Cave
Distance from Boise: 100 miles, 2-hour drive
For another incredible cave adventure, venture out near Gooding, Idaho to Tea Kettle Cave. This cave in the middle of the high desert got its name for the unique tea kettle shape it emulates. The ‘tea pot’ lid is the large opening you can peer down into to see the bottom, and you enter through another hole called “the spout” to reach the cave’s bottom.
At the bottom, there is a ring of delicate and beautiful ferns, presumed to be over 1000 years old! Take care to steer clear of stepping in the middle of the rock circle – one wrong footstep can destroy the ancient ferns!
Come during midday to see the sunbeams shine through the top of the canyon. It’s a photographer’s dream! For more cave opportunities, check out Dead Horse Cave and McKinney Butte Lava tubes nearby.
10. Black Magic Canyon
Distance from Boise: 135 miles, 2-hour drive
Black Magic Canyon is a bit of a dangerous mystery to Idahoans and visitors alike. Carved away over thousands of years, this tumultuous canyon is known for its smooth lava rock walls, twisting basalt, and jet black features.
Visitors MUST call the Big Wood Canal Company (208-886-2331) to check the safety conditions of the canyon before coming. Flash floods can happen any time of year, and it can be deadly to get trapped in the canyon when that happens. Come with sturdy hiking shoes (there isn’t a lot of flat ground to step on), and possibly a helmet, too!