Idaho’s best road trip: A travel blog said it’s this beautiful stretch of … I-84?
Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman
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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — An online travel guide’s list of best road trips in each state began making the rounds on social media Wednesday, prompting confusion from some Idahoans over its suggestion for the Gem State.
It’s not exactly clear when The Discoverer first published the post, but IdahoEdNews reporter Kevin Richert was one of several people who shared a link to the blog on Twitter on Wednesday, according to social media analytics. He suggested an apt subtitle for the article: “Idaho Travel Tips from People Who Have Never Set Foot in Idaho!”
That’s because The Discoverer chose arguably one of Idaho’s most boring routes — the 280-mile stretch of Interstate 84 (and Interstate 86) between Boise and Idaho Falls. The road is mostly flat and straight, and it boasts an 80 mph speed limit, which makes it ideal if you’re trying to get your Idaho road trip over as quickly as possible (or if you, like me, suffer from serious motion sickness on Idaho’s windy mountain roads). Beyond that, it’s kind of a baffling choice.
To be fair, I drove that stretch numerous times during college as I traveled between my hometown of Mountain Home and the Idaho State University campus in Pocatello. That undoubtedly contributes to my disdain for the trek, though I’ll admit there are some nice views of the Snake River near Glenns Ferry and King Hill, as well as interesting rocky terrain at Massacre Rocks near Pocatello.
If you’ve never seen sagebrush steppe, you’re in for a treat on this road trip. But that view, broken up by dairy farms, fields of crops and roadside gas stations, gets old fast. There are a few other bright spots that The Discoverer points out — Shoshone Falls Park near Twin Falls is a great halfway point, and the views of the waterfalls are spectacular. The blog also names Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve as the trip’s highlight. While it’s possible to get to Craters via I-84, you’ll need to detour 90 minutes from the interstate to explore Idaho’s alien landscape.
That brings us to some better alternatives for Idaho road trips. If your goal is to get from Boise to Idaho Falls, diverting to U.S. 20 at Mountain Home will take you right past Craters while offering views of the Sawtooths and, if you’re traveling in spring, of the camas lily bloom near Fairfield, too.
If you don’t mind tacking two hours onto your road trip, you can take Idaho 21 through the mountains and stop in beautiful places like Stanley. There’s a reason it’s called the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, after all. This route also offers access to Craters of the Moon, plus you’ll get a view of Mount Borah, the state’s highest peak, and you can check out the Borah Peak earthquake scarp near Challis, the ghost town of Bayhorse and more along the way.
A road trip north on U.S. 95 will showcase all of Idaho’s different landscapes and take you as far as Lake Pend Oreille, one of the deepest lakes in the country. The rest of the state is speckled with scenic byways in just about every direction from Boise — including routes that focus on our state’s Native American history, abundant wildlife, fascinating geology and more. And the best part about them? You’re far less likely to wonder, “Are we there yet?”