From the Owyhee Desert to Hells Canyon, Southwest Idaho is known for its wide open spaces and quick escapes.
Here, it’s easy to get away from everything (and everyone). This region is full of secluded destinations just waiting to be explored — a perfect place to travel while keeping our distance from others.
In this travel guide, we’ve compiled some of the best ways to adventure safely and responsibly in Southwest Idaho.
Explore the Owyhee Desert
Hiking in rugged canyons hidden in the Owyhee Desert
Venture deep into unadulterated wilderness. Nicknamed by local ranchers as “The Big Quiet,” Idaho’s Owyhee desert is one of the most remote, undeveloped regions in the US.
Craving some peace and quiet? Here are some of the best ways to explore The Big Quiet:
- ATV, hike or horseback ride the trails along the Owyhee Mountains for incredible views
- Stroll the streets of Silver City, one of the last remaining ghost towns from the state’s silver rush days
- Fish for bass and trout in the Owyhee River and enjoy uninterrupted solitude
Read our Owyhee Desert Guide for more travel inspiration.
Hit the Open Road on Hwy 95
Fishing in the late summer sunshine at CJ Strike Reservoir. Photo courtesy of Visit Idaho.
Experience the real Wild West. Stretching from the Owyhee Mountains to the depths of Hells Canyon, Hwy 95 will take you through some of the most remote and picturesque places in Idaho.
Here are just some of the iconic sights you’ll pass by along the way:
- The Snake River One of the most powerful rivers in the Pacific Northwest, with plenty of scenic spots for fishing, birding and boating along its shores
- Payette National Forest Lush wilderness filled with craggy mountains, alpine meadows and glacial lakes
- Hells Canyon The deepest river gorge in North America and home to some of the best whitewater in the nation
Check out our Hwy 95 Guide for details on trails, wineries, roadside adventures and more.
Float the River
Chillaxing on the Payette River
Keep calm and float on. There’s plenty of lazy stretches along Southwest Idaho’s rivers where you can spend an afternoon blissfully adrift without a care in the world.
Looking to float like a local? Try these adventures along the Middle Fork of the Payette River:
- Garden Valley to Crouch Sit back and take in stunning views of the rugged mountains and diverse wildlife the Payette is known for
- Black Canyon to Emmett Settle in for a lazy four-mile stretch of rural backcountry and patchwork farmland
Get safety tips, directions and more in our River Floating Guide.
Try Something New
Taking a quick detour in the Payette National Forest
Get out of your comfort zone. With endless trails and wild whitewater, Southwest Idaho is a hub for outdoor recreation.
What’s on your bucket list? Check out these guides and try something new.
- Whitewater Guide Experience a total adrenaline rush on the Pacific Northwest’s wildest rivers
- Hiking Guide Venture off the beaten path and discover stunning sights hidden along the trails
- Off-Roading Guide Ride one of the most extensive OHV trail networks in the Pacific Northwest
- Fishing Guide Catch a big one — bass, trout, salmon, you name it
- SUP Guide Paddle through creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes, all surrounded by stunning views
- Mountain Biking Guide Shred your way through deserts, mountains and forests on 2000+ miles of rolling singletrack trails
- Motorcycle Roads GuideTake the scenic route through wide open country and stop for a few iconic detours along the way
Soak in the Hot Springs
Soaking it up at Trail Creek Hot Springs
Treat yourself to the ultimate recharge. Idaho has the largest number of soakable hot springs in the nation — and some of its most secluded ones are in Southwest Idaho.
Looking for a steamy mountain getaway? Try these natural hot springs:
- Kirkham Hot Springs Soak right along the South Fork of the Payette River
- Rocky Canyon Hot Springs Unwind in a three-tiered spring surrounded by ponderosa trees, just past Crouch
- Trail Creek Hot Springs Relax in small pools overlooking a mountain stream near Warm Lake
East of Cascade, on the shores of Warm Lake, you’ll find a local favorite — North Shore Lodge. It’s seconds from your cabin to the lakeshore, and minutes to some of the best hiking spots in Idaho. Not only can you bring your pooch, you should bring along some friends and family for an incredible weekend getaway!
Read our Hot Springs Guide for driving directions and even more steamy getaways.
Download Our Free Hot Springs Guide
Steamy Mountain Getaways
There’s something rare that happens when you explore Southwest Idaho on your own.
When you get away from the city, the noise and the busyness, you pause more. The wide open spaces and natural beauty demand your undivided attention — and you have no choice but to take it all in with uninterrupted awe.
It’s strangely comforting. The world may look different for a while, and travel may look different for a while… But Southwest Idaho will always stay wild.