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No matter the month, there’s always limitless adventure in Southwest Idaho.
Between the sunny days of summer and the snowy days of winter, fall is arguably one of the best times of year to experience the region. This is the time of year when the City of Trees changes colors, the desert cools and the mountains are just beginning to turn white with snow.
From haunted corn mazes to Boise State football games, we’ve outlined our top 10 favorite things to do in the fall in Southwest Idaho.
1. Taste award-winning wine in Idaho Wine Country
Winemakers at Williamson Orchards harvesting grapes as the growing season ends.
As the days grow shorter, the fast-paced “get-it-done” attitude of the Snake River Valley slows. You can take your time as you walk through the changing colors of the vineyards and sit down to have a conversation with the winemakers.
More often than not, the same people pouring you a glass are the same people who hand-crafted that wine. You’ll quickly find out that the wine culture in Southwest Idaho is unpretentious, laid back and down-to-earth.
Want to take a weekend to explore wine country? Check out our Idaho wineries guide.
2. Pick apples in an orchard
What harvest season isn’t complete with some apple picking?
In the Snake River Valley, local farmers love to open their grounds to locals and visitors to pick apples and get a taste of the simple life. Around here, apple picking season usually starts up in late August and ends mid-November. Check out these orchards for some great local produce:
- Tyler’s Rocky Point Orchard
Located at 145 E South Slope Road in Emmett.
- Anderson Apple Ranch
Located at 1877 W South Slope Road in Emmett. Apple picking season starts in September and ends late October.
- Cabalo’s Orchard and Gardens
Located at 2087 W King Road in Kuna. Check out their pumpkin patch in October.
- Candy Apple Orchards
Located at 1871 W South Slope Rd, Emmett, ID 83617. You can make your own cider here too!
3. Stargaze at Bruneau Sand Dunes
Endless constellations seen from Bruneau Dunes State Park.
With clear skies, cooler weather, earlier sunsets and longer nights, fall is prime stargazing season — and all the locals know Bruneau Sand Dunes is the best place to go. This state park is miles away from the city, making it possible to see thousands of constellations in the night sky. (It’s also home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America!)
Bring some cozy sweaters. Make a campfire. Curl up under a few blankets and take in the endless stars in the night sky.
4. Brave the corn mazes
Birds-eye view of a corn maze at Linder Farms. Photo courtesy of Linder Farms.
Picture this: you’re walking through a cornfield at night. All you can hear is the autumn wind and leaves crunching under your feet.
Suddenly, you hear a ghastly groan. A shadow creeps into your path — a zombie. Not just one. But an entire horde of them staggering toward you as you make a run for it.
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During harvest season, local farms in Southwest Idaho plow intricate mazes into their cornfields and open their grounds to the public. Some of these are even filled with actors and actresses dressed as zombies, werewolves, chainsaw-wielding clowns…you name it. Others are family-friendly mazes where you can enjoy a peaceful walk through the fields during day or night.
You can find mazes like these all throughout the Snake River Valley every fall. Check out Linder Farms or The Farmstead in Meridian.
Local’s Tip: If you’re feeling brave, explore Haunted World in Nampa for a two-hour tour through haunted houses, cornfields, dungeons and more!
5. Enjoy a farm-to-fork meal during harvest season
A board of juicy brisket on top of sauteed collard greens at Saint Lawrence Gridiron in Boise.
Butternut squash, apples, pumpkins, carrots, corn…those are just a few of the fresh local flavors you’ll experience during harvest season in Southwest Idaho. Autumn is arguably the best time of year to explore the region’s vibrant food and wine scene.
Treat yourself to a progressive dinner along 8th Street in Downtown Boise and taste inventive dishes full of freshly-harvested local flavor. Our favorites? Try Red Feather Lounge, Bittercreek Alehouse and The Basque Market. (Check out our Food and Wine Guide here.)
If you want to venture off the beaten path, sit down to a farm-to-fork meal in the heart of Idaho’s Snake River Valley. At Peaceful Belly Farm and Vine and Branch Ranch, you can enjoy means made from ingredients harvested just miles away.
Local’s Tip: Take a tour with Indulge Boise to experience the best food and wine off the beaten path in the City of Trees.
6. Wander the old Idaho Penitentiary
The eerie empty cells at the Idaho Penitentiary. Photo courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society.
In 1872, the Idaho Penitentiary opened its steel doors to some of the most dangerous criminals in the Wild West. Today, the cement cells and barricades remain empty and abandoned, full of ghost stories and rich history. A walk through the halls here is always a little eerie.
But something unusual happens here every year in late October. Historians, ghost hunters and actors join together to put on an eerie event focusing on the dark past and supernatural activity of the old prison over the last 150 years. During Frightened Felons, you can wander the halls, hear ghost stories and see live reenactments of the darker side of Idaho’s history. (Learn more about the event here.)
While you’re on the grounds, walk on over to the nearby Idaho Botanical Gardens to take in the stunning fall colors and changing leaves.
7. Stroll through farmer’s markets and harvest festivals
A fiddler plays along the busy streets during the Capital City Public Market.
Fall is harvest season in Southwest Idaho — and it’s the best time of year to explore the vibrant, farmer’s markets this region is known for. You can wander through the stands as you fill a basket with fresh produce, smell fresh-baked goods, look at local art and get a taste of the good life.
Here are some markets you have to check out:
- Boise Farmer’s Market
Open April through October on Saturday mornings. Hosted at 1500 Shoreline Drive.
- Capital City Public Market
Open April through October on Saturday mornings, right along 8th and Idaho Streets in Downtown Boise.
- Nampa Farmer’s Market
Open April through October on Saturday mornings. Hosted at Lloyd Square Park along 13th and Front in downtown Nampa.
- 34th Street Market
Open June through October on Wednesday evenings. Hosted along 34th Street in Garden City.
- Eagle Farmer’s Market
Open May through October on Saturday mornings. Hosted at Heritage Park at 185 E State Street in downtown Eagle.
- Caldwell Farmer’s market
Open mid-May through mid-September on Tuesday evenings. Hosted at Indian Creek Plaza in downtown Caldwell.
8. Hit the trails
Taking in the fall colors at the MK Nature Center along the Boise River Greenbelt.
Fall is one of the best times of year to explore Southwest Idaho’s extensive trail network. With fewer hikers and mountain bikers on the trails, you’ll have the scenery and views all to yourself.
From the sagebrush desert to the Central Mountains, here are some spots best explored in the fall:
- The Greenbelt
Lined with willows and cottonwoods, the Greenbelt is stunning when the leaves change colors. This 21-mile paved path runs follows the meandering route of the Boise River and cuts right through the heart of Downtown Boise. You can visit art galleries, catch a show and taste local wine all from this same trail — just read our guide here.
- Bogus Basin
Head just 30 minutes northwest of Boise up to Bogus Basin, and you’ll be surrounded by wilderness. Here you can explore along alpine ridges with stunning panoramic views of Boise below. With winding trails and tight switchbacks, it’s a great challenge for mountain bikers and hikers alike.
- Ponderosa State Park
Right outside the charming mountain town of McCall, there are miles of flowing singletrack trails along the shores of Lake Payette. The hikes here take you through mountain meadows, towering ponderosa pines and amazing views.
- Jug Mountain
The rugged peak of Jug Mountain rises over 8,000 feet above McCall. The trails here will lead you through alpine forests with views of the valley and the blue waters of Louie Lake. In the fall, the cool, pine-scented mountain air is seriously refreshing.
9. Cheer on the Broncos at the Blue Turf
Cheering on the Broncos while they play on the Big Blue.
The world’s only “smurf turf” football field is in Boise, Idaho. On game days, Albertsons Stadium is packed with 30,000+ fans, all cheering on Boise State University’s beloved Broncos.
Nicknamed “The Blue,” this one-of-a-kind stadium shows off the fearlessness of a program that is always looking to outwork and outthink the competition. Fans bleed blue and orange as they cheer on their local heroes here. Attending a Boise State game truly is an only in Southwest Idaho experience — one no one should miss!
Check out our story on what makes Albertsons Stadium a Southwest Idaho icon.
10. Meet some raptors at the Fall Flights
An owl swoops just inches above the audience.
Owls soaring just inches above your head. Falcons pirouetting in the air. Eagles soaring over the foothills.
These are just some of the sights you’ll experience at Fall Flights.
During weekends in late September through mid-November, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise puts on a spectacular show featuring the breathtaking flying capabilities of raptors. The shows are held in a stunning outdoor amphitheater in the foothills overlooking Boise, where visitors can get close and personal to nature’s most elusive predators.
Curious what the experience is like? Read more about the experience here
Every season brings something new to celebrate in Southwest Idaho: the changing leaves in fall, the raging whitewater in summer, fresh powder on the slopes in winter, the blooming wildflowers in spring. Adventures aren’t seasonal here. They’re year-round.
Already planning for snow season? Check out our snow guide.