COVID-19 has affected many activities and businesses in SW Idaho. Be sure to confirm hours and availability before your visit.
We’ve all seen a million tips on
eco-friendly living, but what about sustainable travel?
Tourism can be a huge benefit to the local economy, but it can also leave negative impacts on the environment. We’re here with tips & tricks for green travel in Southwest Idaho — so you can focus on fun instead of your footprint.
1. Set Yourself Up For Success
Before you head out on your adventure, make sure you’re packed properly. Bring along a travel mug or water bottle. Instead of buying water at gas stations along your journey, refill your own bottle at each stop to reduce plastic waste. Throw some reusable shopping bags in your suitcase so that you can avoid using grocery bags on the road, just like you do at home.
If you’re going to be camping, make sure you’re packing in biodegradable toilet paper, soap, and shampoo. Anything you bring camping should be safe for wildlife and the planet!
2. Reduce Emissions
If you’re road-tripping, get your car checked before you head off. Your vehicle should be running as efficiently as possible not just for the environment, but for your safety. Some of our Idaho backroads can be tricky! Make sure those tires are properly inflated and check for any leaks.
Whenever possible, consider walking or biking. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll get a better view of all the weird and wonderful details that you’d miss in a fast car. As Werner Herzog says, “The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.”
We’ll cover some local bike rental spots and places to explore below!
3. Take Only Memories
One of the cardinal rules for any nature enthusiast is to leave nature better than you found it. That means packing out everything you bring in, including food waste like peels and cores, as well as pet waste.
It also means checking conditions before you go out. In our dry summers, there are often “burn bans” in place to protect forests. Make sure you know what types of fires are allowed in the area you’re visiting, and always practice campfire safety.
Look up trail conditions before you set out on a hike — walking on muddy trails can contribute to rapid erosion. Always stay on the trail. While bushwhacking might seem fun, you run the risk of trampling native flora, scaring away wildlife, contributing to erosion, and getting lost!
The Boise Foothills have over 190 miles of trails to enjoy.
We all know that eating local is good for the environment, but it’s also one of the greatest joys of travel. Local flavors will give you a whole new appreciation for Southwest Idaho’s bounty. Here’s just a few of our favorite locally-sourced eateries.
Try one of Bittercreek’s 100% Grass-Fed Burgers when you visit.
Local produce. Artisanal producers. Seasonal menus. Bittercreek is committed to sustainable eating, and they do it deliciously. Chow down on a Lava Lakes Lamb Burger at Bittercreek (sourced from a Hailey, Idaho wild-range farm) while you enjoy a Campfire in the Rye cocktail (featuring High West campfire vodka and a symphony of toasty flavors). This downtown Boise gem shouldn’t be missed. The best part? Bittercreek is just part of the 8th street local food scene. Read more in our Food & Wine Guide.
Lark & Larder
This neighborhood market is a cornucopia of local products from farmers, producers, and artists. Stop in to sample their locally-sourced produce, meat, cheese, bread, and beverages. Lark & Larder is committed to environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices. They work with growers and ranchers to find delicious regional products. Grab some snacks for the road, or build your own leisurely picnic — and know that you’re supporting the best producers in Southwest Idaho!
Roots Zero Waste Market
The first full-service zero waste grocery store & cafe in the U.S. — right in Garden City. Roots Market guarantees plastic-free, sustainably sourced, and ethically manufactured products. We recommend stopping by at breakfast time for a delicious frittata and vegan apple spice scone — the perfect start to a day of adventure.
Head down to Chandlers for their famous Ten-Minute Martini™
Hotel 43 is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Boise. You’ll sleep peacefully knowing that you’re supporting sustainable hospitality — although you can’t help but sleep peacefully at Hotel 43. Take one of their complimentary bikes on a spin through the vibrant downtown before heading back for a good night’s sleep in a PURE Wellness Room. Luxury and sustainability all in one. Perfect.
Let’s not just eat local — let’s drink local, too! These barrel-aged seasonal craft beers are an essential taste of Boise. Sip a Smooth Groove vanilla porter in their open-plan space while you watch the brewers at work. Started via Kickstarter back in 2012, Boise Brewing is now giving back to the community that gave it its start by working with local non-profits; it’s truly by the community, for the community.
Get Into Nature
Southwest Idaho is famous for its volcanic region that has created some of the best soil and scenery.
Bike the Idaho Wine Trail
The Snake River Valley’s volcanic soils have attracted vintners for nearly 100 years. When you try these wines, you’ll see why. The Idaho Wine Trail stretches through the heart of the Sunnyslope area, through valleys and rolling hills carpeted with orchards and lush vineyards.
The trail winds through award-winning wineries like Indian Creek Winery, Hat Ranch Winery, Huston Vineyards, and Scoria. Crisp rieslings, heady tempranillos, and a fresh breeze on your face? Sign me up.
Glamp It Up
Glamping: where nature’s beauty meets all the comforts of a luxury hotel. If you’re looking to glamp, look no further than The Vino Camp by Sawtooth Winery. It’s located at the heart of the Sunnyslope wine trail, just 40 minutes from downtown Boise. Their palatial canvas tents are complete with private ensuite bathrooms and showers, free wifi, and a comfy queen bed. The tents offer a panoramic view of vineyards, mature orchards, and the Owyhee Mountains. Not to mention that you’ll get to sip Sawtooth’s delectable vintages on your own private patio underneath a sprawling starry sky.
The Vino Camp is off the grid and produces its own energy to power each tent. Their toiletries and paper products are fully biodegradable. Getting into nature, supporting local industry, and green energy? This is eco-tourism at its best.
Travel the Weiser River Trail
Southwest Idaho has countless scenic trails, but the Weiser River Trail revolutionized environmental restoration in the area. Friends of the Weiser River Trail converted the old Pacific and Idaho Northern Railroad corridor into a public recreation trail, which stretches 84 miles from Weiser to New Meadows. The trail is also the only access to 16,000 acres of public lands. Take a leisurely day trip with the family through the southernmost canyons and hills, or make the epic journey to the forested northern terminus.
Local’s Tip: Riding the whole trail? Make it a two-day trip and stop off at Mundo’s Hot Springs in Cambridge for a well-deserved soak.
The trail winds through miles of riparian habitat — lushly green, and teeming with wildlife. You might spot elk, deer, herons, bears, raptors, and sandhill cranes. Remember to look up trail conditions and safety recommendations before you set off!
With a bit of extra care, you’ll experience all of the joys of travel with none of the guilt. Eco-friendly tourism practices give you a chance to give back to the land and communities you’re visiting. Come to Southwest Idaho to get up close and personal with nature, and leave knowing that you’ve left it better than you found it.