Autumn Looky + Spooky in SW Idaho
Fall in Southwest Idaho
Nobody wants to wish summer away, but the time to start planning your 2023 fall getaway to Southwest Idaho is now.
Soon, the days will be cooler, the trees will be colorful-er, and the spooks will be congregating for Halloween.
Catch Some Color
Ahhhh… fall colors. They’re one of Mother Nature’s great masterpieces — and Southwest Idaho makes one heck of a canvas.
Best of all, out here fall leaves are paired with a variety of spectacular scenery. Meaning you can combine a day of scenic sightseeing with a range of “Still Wild” adventures, from ghost towns to city strolls.
Here are some of the top spots for enjoying the kaleidoscope of fall colors in Southwest Idaho.
This mining town may no longer be producing silver, but starting in late September, the trees are full of gold.
Even the drive up to this Old West-y town turned remote getaway is incredibly scenic. You’ll start by traversing the vast Owyhee Desert along Highway 78 before turning off onto Silver City Road (also known as Long Ridge Road). You’ll pass through several groves of colorful aspens as you climb higher into the mountains along a bumpy dirt road.
Once you arrive, you’ll find loads of tree color dotting the surrounding hills. Take in a meal (or reserve a room) at the more than 150-year-old Idaho Hotel. Tour the town’s three historic cemeteries. Go antiquing as you stroll along the wood sidewalks. Silver City features dozens of buildings that have remained standing since the 1860s.
Do remember: while Silver City can give off “ghost town” vibes, people do live here. Always be respectful of private property.
Idaho’s state capital comes by its City of Trees nickname honestly. Despite being a high desert climate, the namesake river that cuts through the center of town feeds a lush tree canopy year round. And in the fall, it really shows off.
Kathryn Albertson Park on Americana Boulevard is a great place to start. Named in honor of the wife of grocery story magnate Joe Albertson, this park is designed to provide a natural respite in the center of the city. Meandering paths take you through lush landscaping and along turtle-friendly ponds. Definitely worth a stop. Learn more here.
Just down the road — or Greenbelt — the MK Nature Center features immaculately landscaped tree-lined walking paths. By early October, trees in shades of red and yellow provide a stunning backdrop for the Center’s Streamwalk, which features underwater fishing viewing areas. Get up close and personal with Chinook salmon, brook trout, and more. And it’s all free.
In the winter, this is one of the closest urban ski areas in the country. But before the snow flies, there’s still plenty to do. Take the short 16-mile drive from Downtown Boise to this four-season resort area to take in the fall colors, crisp mountain views, and beverages from the onsite restaurant. You can even take a chairlift up for elevated views. While Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine dominate the landscape, the occasional aspen, Rocky Mountain maple and loads of smaller trees and shrubs provide plenty of fall color.
While Stanley lies just out of Southwest Idaho, the road to get there is not. Take a trip on the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, with stops in Crouch and Garden Valley, then loop back along Highway 21 through Idaho City. The scenery is spectacular, particularly in the fall.
Spooky SW Idaho
Time to get your haunt on. Southwest Idaho provides some unique opportunities to explore our haunted past — and present.
Old Idaho Penitentiary: Widely considered one of the most haunted destinations in the Northwest, this former territorial prison (built in 1870) is spooky in the daylight. But as the sun goes down, things can get, well, weird. It’s even been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.” Check with the information desk to learn about tours and paranormal investigations you might be able to join.
Idaho Hotel: Set in downtown — and we use that word loosely — Silver City, the Idaho Hotel is the longest continuously operating hotel in Idaho. Built during the silver rush of the 1860s, guests and visitors have reported sightings of apparitions including children and a tuxedo-wearing gentleman. Book a room and experience it for yourself.
The Egyptian Theater: Set in the heart of downtown Boise, this historic theater was built in 1927 in the Egyptian Revival style. The attention to detail in the architecture and design alone is impressive enough to warrant a visit. But for the specter-curious, it’s also worth a stop for a chance encounter with Joe the Projector Room ghost or other apparitions.
LOCAL’S TIP: Looking for some not-too-serious creepy fun? Check out BoiseHauntedHouses.com for a comprehensive list of haunted happenings
Don’t Miss This
August 30 – September 3: Spirit of Boise Balloon Fest – get up close and personal with hot air balloons
August 31 – September 4: Hermit Music Fest – Indian Creek Winery presents a knee-slapping good time featuring bluegrass and American roots bands
September 9: Hops & Crops Festival – celebrate the bountiful harvest with a hop farm tour and local beers
September 16 – October 30: Lowe Family Farmstead in Kuna – corn maze & pumpkin patch goodness
September 30: Top of Tamarack – a unique run, walk, or ride for a good cause
September 30 – October 1: Idaho City Days – celebrate this little mountain town with food, drinks, music & more
October 7: Caldwell’s Dogtoberfest – tail waggin’ good beers
October 27 – 28: Old Idaho Penitentiary Squawky & Spirits – Halloween sips in one of Idaho’s most haunted destinations
November 17 – 19: Caldwell’s Winter Wonderland Festival – holiday fun for the whole family
November 24 – late December: Winter Garden aGlow – over 600,000 lights shine bright