Idaho has some of the most impressive water in the nation, and several of the state’s claims to fame are located in Southwest Idaho. Writers covering adventure, family and nature travel will find uncrowded, accessible lakes, rivers and hot springs in Southwest Idaho.


Southwest Idaho is a water recreation mecca. The area has dozens of reservoirs and lakes, including but not limited to: Anderson Ranch, Arrowrock, C.J. Strike, Lake Cascade, Deadwood, Lucky Peak, Black Canyon and Payette Lake.

These bodies of water are the perfect place to take the boat out for the day. Spend an afternoon on Payette Lake on a McCall Lake Cruise. Go paddleboarding on clean, glacial water. Fish year-round in Southwest Idaho — it’s one of the only places this far inland where you can catch steelhead and salmon.


Multiple sections of the Payette River and Salmon River are . Watch the pros during the North Fork Championships or try for yourself with Cascade Raft & Kayak.

The mighty Snake River runs through Southwest Idaho, nourishing a massive agriculture and wine region. The river turns north at the Oregon-Idaho border and runs through Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America. Experience the impressive canyon on a whitewater raft or jet boat tour with Hells Canyon Adventures or Hells Canyon Raft. You’re sure to see wildlife in Hells Canyon, including bald eagles, raptors, coyotes and bears.

The Owyhee River and Jarbidge River are perhaps two of the most remote, uncharted waters in the nation. Both rivers run through the spectacular Owyhee Canyonlands and are used by experienced rafters and kayakers at certain times of the year.

It may be landlocked, but a surfing scene is alive and well in Southwest Idaho. Catch a wave at Kelly’s Whitewater Park on the Payette River in Cascade or at Whitewater Park on the Boise River in Garden City.


Natural pools of warm geothermal water are all over Southwest Idaho. Visit Pine Flats or Kirkham Hot Springs to soak in a riverside geothermal pool. For developed geothermal pools, head to Gold Fork, Burgdorf or The Springs at Idaho City.