A day at the park
Browse through some of Idaho’s most beautiful gems. Each park listed has a visitor center to help educate families on the park and the rules and regulations. As with any outdoor experience, be cautious of wildlife and adhere to weather forecasts.
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Bruneau Dunes State Park has the longest single structure sand dunes in all of the Northwest rising nearly 470 feet from their base. This makes for a very popular attraction for families. Insider’s tip: Bring your saucers to slide down the mountains of sand. The activity offers endless fun for people of all ages. There is also a very large observatory that offers Introductory astronomy presentations. Do note that you'll find wetlands at this park, so bring the insect repellant!
Location: 27608 Sand Dunes Rd., Mountain Home, Idaho 83647
City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rock State Park
The geological uniqueness of this park is truly remarkable. The rock spires are worth the drive alone to the National Reserve that is adjacent to Castle Rock State Park. The diverse landforms are exciting and offer up educational stories to discuss amongst families. City of Rocks offers world-class rock climbing that draws international visitors each year. Over 14,000 acres of diverse wilderness encompass City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rock State Park encompasses an additional 1400 acres of outdoor playground. Be sure to check out the unique ranch-style overnight accommodations recently added at Castle Rocks State Park.
Location: 3035 S. Elba-Almo Rd., Almo, Idaho 83312
Coeur d'Alene’s Old Mission State Park
Coeur d'Alene’s Old Mission State Park is home to Idaho’s oldest standing structure and offers a unique experience for history buffs and educational officinados of all ages. The park is now home to a permanent exhibit called Sacred Encounters that introduces visitors to Father De Smet, the Indians of the Rocky Mountain West and their experiences. This park is for day use only, so please do not plan on camping overnight. Coeur d'Alene’s old Mission State Park is near the 72-mile-long Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s, a continuously paved trail perfect for families that takes you behind-the-scenes to some of Idaho’s most scenic places, including stops along-the-way at historic mining communities. The trail is a rail-to-trail conversion project that now allows visitors the opportunity to travel one of Idaho’s main mining railway routes.
Location: 2885 Kathleen Ave., Suite 1, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83815
Heyburn State Park
Heyburn is also very rich in state history and the oldest state park in the Pacific Northwest. Open in 1908, the Civilian Conservation Core helped bring this park to life with the building of trails within the park and most existing facilities. With over 5,500 acres of land and 2,300 acres of water, there are certainly lots of outdoor recreation options. Picnicking, camping, fishing and hiking are just some of the popular attractions. The park’s proximity to St. Joe River is also alluring. Heyburn State Park is also a stop along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s.
Location: 57 Chatcolet Rd., Plummer, Idaho 83851
Land of the Yankee Fork State Park
This park is truly rich with Idaho’s mining history. Families are able to tour ghost towns. And, units of this park are ATV and motorbike friendly, offering hundreds of miles of mapped trails to explore. Although there isn’t opportunity for fishing in the park, the region boasts some of the state’s most famous rivers offering world-class fishing and hiking opportunities. The State Park’s visitor center is in Challis and serves as a trailhead to many of the area’s off-highway vehicle adventures.
Location: 24424 Highway 75, Junction of Highways 75 and 93, Challis, Idaho 83226
Ponderosa State Park
This is one of the most popular state parks due to its proximity to Boise and the population center. The majority of the park sits atop a 1,000-acre peninsula that extends out into Payette Lake, offering amazing lake views. Picnicking, camping, fishing and hiking are just some of the popular attractions. Families can now rent deluxe cabins that have restrooms and kitchens that accommodate up to eight for big families! Nature abounds with interesting wildlife both daytime and nocturnal. Spring is also a wonderful opportunity to view majestic wildflowers.
Location: 1920 N. Davis Ave., McCall, Idaho 83638
Priest Lake State Park
Priest Lake State Park is Idaho’s most northern state park. This, too, is a very popular park come summer do to its incredible beaches. Yes, that’s right, there are white sand beaches to play, build sandcastles and more. Located only 30 miles from the border of Canada, Priest Lake is 19 miles long and 300-feet-deep. Motorized boats are allowed on the water offering an array of water activities. Beware, this lake is located very north so waters do not warm up too much even in the peak of the summer.
Location: 314 Indian Creek Park Rd., Coolin, Idaho 83821