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Idaho in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Brad Lane
Feb 4, 2020

From Snake River Canyons to Craters of the Moon, Idaho is a rugged state to photograph. With changing colors throughout the seasons, the most beautiful places to photograph in Idaho deliver with postcard aesthetics. Featuring serene mountain lakes, towering sand dunes, and a City of Rocks where the noise of your shutter will echo throughout the landscape, pictures of Idaho capture the adventurous nature of the state.

1. Sawtooth Scenic Byway

Sawtooth Mountains from the Sawtooth Scenic Byway

When people imagine mountains in Idaho, the Sawtooth Mountains often come to mind. It's hard to forget the way these prominent mountain peaks cut into the big skies of south-central Idaho. The mountains are even more spectacular when they have snowcapped summits. The 115-mile Sawtooth Scenic Byway is the best way to begin exploring these memorable mountains.

2. Snake River Canyon

Snake River Canyon | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The mighty Snake River makes a striking impression near Twin Falls in the southern part of the state. Stretching from either side of the 500-foot-tall Perrine Bridge, the Snake River Canyon is a spectacular sight to behold. Evil Knievel tried to jump this canyon in 1974, and visitors today can find the best views from the south rim of the canyon.

3. Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

Craters of the Moon

The name is no joke for this national monument in southern Idaho. A long, volcanic history has left behind lava fields, lava tubes, and cinder cones at Craters of the Moon. Some of the most popular activities at this national monument include caving, hiking, photography, and admiring the star-studded night sky. The national monument also features a campground that feels out of this world.

4. Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Few other rivers in the United States are as well-regarded for their scenic attraction as the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Within the Salmon-Challis National Forest, visitors from across the world travel to the Middle Fork to raft, swim, and enjoy the wild beauty. Permits are required to raft the rugged river, and commercial guides are often the easiest way to get a ride.

5. Bruneau Dunes State Park

Sand dune in Bruneau

An hour southeast of Boise, this unique state park highlights some of the biggest sand dunes in the state. Alongside great photo opportunities, these shifting sand mounds are also fun to explore. Visitors can rent sandboards from the state park and are also welcome to traverse the giant dunes by foot.

6. Lake Coeur d'Alene

Lake Coeur d'Alene seen from Tubbs Hill

One of the largest lakes in northern Idaho, Lake Coeur d'Alene has over 130 miles of shoreline. The best place to experience the scenic beauty of this glacially carved lake is the city of Coeur d'Alene on the northern shore. Alongside the well-manicured Coeur d'Alene City Park, visitors can also access Tubbs Hill for shoreline hiking trails.

Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Idaho

7. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

In western Idaho near the Oregon border, this national recreation area encompasses America's deepest river gorge. Seen from either edge, the Snake River carves its way through the bottom of the canyon. Hiking and photography are both popular activities at Hells Canyon. The ultimate way to experience Hells Canyon, though, is whitewater rafting through the rugged landscape.

8. Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake

Backdropped by dramatic mountain peaks in central Idaho, Redfish Lake is the largest lake in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The mountains add a very scenic appeal to popular activities like boating and water sports. Fishing is also prevalent at Redfish Lake. Several campgrounds line the shore for those looking to capture the magnificent sunsets at Redfish Lake and spend the night.

9. Thousand Springs State Park

Thousand Springs

Along the Snake River in the southern part of the state, several different scenic areas comprise Thousand Springs State Park. Whether you want to photograph Malad Gorge, Ritter Island, or the Niagara Springs unit within the park, chances are you'll see some fast-moving water. The Billingsley Creek unit is well known as an excellent spot for wildlife photography.

10. Sun Valley Resort

Skiers at Sun Valley

A year-round adventure destination, Sun Valley Resort is best known for its world-class ski offerings. Featuring over 2,000 skiable acres and 18 lifts, Sun Valley offers a wide variety of terrain that attracts skiers from across the world. The fun doesn't stop in the summer, not by a long shot. The resort is a central location for hiking and horseback riding in the mountains.

11. City of Rocks National Reserve

City of Rocks

In the southern part of the state near Utah, City of Rocks National Reserve displays a giant collection of granite boulders. Popular for rock climbers, hikers, and anyone who enjoys big open country, City of Rocks is also great for taking pictures. The Flaming Rock Trail and other established routes meander throughout the entire area.

12. The Palouse

Mustard plants blooming in the Palouse region

The Palouse region of northern Idaho and eastern Washington is as beautiful as it is different from the rest of the state. The rolling hills and long sunsets of the area are a photographer's dream. Rich with agriculture and particularly the production of soft, white winter wheat, the Palouse offers new colors to capture with each season.

13. Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

Part of the Snake River that flows through the city of Twin Falls, Shoshone Falls is one of the best waterfalls in state. Referred to as the "Niagara of the West," this 900-foot-wide waterfall has its biggest flow during spring. Numerous viewing platforms at Shoshone Falls allow for multiple angles of the water.

14. Payette Lake

Boating on Payette Lake during sunset

Two hours north of Boise near McCall, Payette Lake is a 5,000-acre glacier-filled body of water. Popular activities at Payette Lake include boating, fishing, and taking quick dips in the cold water. Ponderosa State Park surrounds the eastern shore and provides opportunities to camp, hike, and catch the beautiful sunsets.

15. Idaho Falls River Walk

Idaho Falls River Walk | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Surrounding both sides of the Snake River, scenic attractions line this beautiful River Walk in Idaho Falls. With cascading water features and decorative landscaping, this public space stands out as the most beautiful spot in the city. A great place to bring a camera, or perhaps a date, each season brings new colors to the Idaho Falls River Walk.

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