National Parks in Idaho

March 10, 2023

national parks in Idaho

The awe-inspiring state of Idaho boasts many national parks, reserves, monuments and historic sites. Each site features amazing natural and historical sights and offers a range of outdoor activities.

Craters of the Moon, Nez Perce National Historical Park and Hagerman Fossil Beds are some of the most popular Idaho national parks. You can discover lava-scarred landscapes, lush forests and massive water-carved canyons in these parks!

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon National Park is a fascinating volcanic landscape in central Idaho that is the largest basaltic lava field in the United States. This strange landscape is composed of exposed fissures, lava fields, lava tubes, and cinder cones that formed 15,000 years ago during eruptions that created a 52-mile long crack in the Earth’s crust.

In addition to its interesting geological features, the park also provides a wealth of recreational activities. Hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, wildlife viewing and backcountry travel are just some of the recreational opportunities offered in Craters of the Moon National Park.

The park has a great system of underground lava tubes and is a popular place to go cave exploring. However, be sure to check the permit policy at the National Park Service office before attempting any cave adventures.

Nez Perce National Historical Park

For thousands of years, the valleys, prairies, mountains and plateaus of inland northwest Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington have been home to the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) people. These peaceful and strong ancestors of our nation have faced adversity for two centuries, but their voice is still heard.

A unit of the National Park Service, Nez Perce National Historical Park is comprised of 38 sites across four states. Established in 1965, this park is dedicated to documenting the history of the Nimiipuu and their interaction with explorers, fur traders, missionaries, soldiers, gold miners, settlers and farmers who moved through or into the area.

The main visitor center is located in Spalding, Idaho and is open from April through October. It features an interpretive museum, a small Nez Perce tribal museum and a Junior Ranger program.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument preserves one of the world's richest sites for fossils from the late Pliocene Epoch (about 3-4 million years ago). About 200 plant and animal species have been cataloged, including mastodons, saber-toothed cats, rodents, birds, reptiles, and fish.

The monument’s most famous fossil is the Hagerman horse, which is recognized as the earliest representative of the horse family genus Equus. Some 30 complete skeletons and 200 partial skeletons have been discovered.

In addition to the fossil beds, the monument also protects a portion of the Oregon Trail. Wagon ruts from the historic trail are visible from some overlooks in the park.

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls is one of the most impressive natural beauties on the Snake River. Often nicknamed the “Niagara of the West,” this 212-foot waterfall is 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls and a spectacular sight to behold.

While the park is open year-round, spring is considered the best time to see the Falls in full vigor, with melted snow feeding the waters. Water flows vary throughout the year, but irrigation and hydroelectric power generation can greatly reduce water levels during summer and fall.

The park is operated by the city of Twin Falls and offers an array of recreational activities. A per-car entry fee allows visitors to picnic, swim at Dierkes Lake, and enjoy scenic views from the nearby overlook.

The park also boasts a 12-mi (19-km) Canyon Rim Trail, which is a moderate hiking and road biking path that stretches from the base of Shoshone Falls to the Snake River Canyon. Several other trails in the area provide excellent views of the Falls.


Tornado Dave is the best place to learn more about severe weather and climate science. He's a veritable tornado of information, and he loves nothing more than educating others about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events. Make sure to check in with Tornado Dave often, as he's always updating his blog with the latest news and information!
hello world!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram