Fall Foliage in Boise, Treasure Valley, and Idaho
The calendar has flipped to October, and we’ve officially entered fall in Boise. The change in season brings crisp autumn air and trees that are bursting with color. Vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows captivate residents and visitors alike, setting the stage for a foliage viewing road trip.
The “City of Trees,” Boise’s nickname, is fitting as the area’s numerous trees put on a spectacle that rivals the foliage of the Northeast United States during this time of year. As the air chills and the summer heat becomes a distant memory, fall offers a unique opportunity to get outdoors and experience all this beautiful season has to offer.
Let’s explore various ways to enjoy the changing seasons and experience the fall foliage grandeur in Idaho.
Treasure Valley Cities
Everyone knows Boise is the “City of Trees.” Still, Eagle, Meridian, Garden City, Caldwell, and other area cities have parks and paths that are great locations to experience the beautiful fall leaves as they explode in fantastic red, orange, and yellow hues.
Hiking, Biking, and Walking in Fall
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the fall colors, the Ridge To Rivers organization has put together a list of hiking and walking trails that offer glimpses of the area’s gorgeous fall foliage. The Idaho Department of Commerce – Tourism Development also has a great list of area hikes that puts you amid the fall palette.
The Boise River Green Belt that borders the river offers over 25 miles of tree-lined walking and biking paths, giving users a stunning view of trees splashed in vibrant fall colors.
Fall Beauty in Idaho’s State Parks
A few nearby Idaho State Parks also provide visitors a world of color during the fall. Eagle Island State Park is centrally located in the Treasure Valley and offers a lot of year-round activities. The park has many mature trees that explode with color during the early fall as the season sets in.
If you don’t mind making a day trip, Three Island Crossing State Park in Glenns Ferry offers picturesque views and an abundance of fall color along the banks of the nearby Snake River.
During the fall, Ponderosa State Park in McCall is another park worth exploring as the majestic trees that border Payette Lake change color in preparation for winter.
Here’s a tip for those new to Idaho: Idaho state parks charge $7 per day per vehicle for access, but people who register their cars in Idaho can take advantage of the Idaho State Parks Passport program. The program costs just $10 per year of registration, allowing unlimited access to state parks. If you visit at least two parks a year, it more than pays for itself with the savings you’ll enjoy. It’s probably the best value in the U.S. for recreational access.
Fall Road Trips
For those that don’t mind driving, there are a variety of scenic drives that take you to and through Idaho’s flora.
Beginning in Western Boise near Garden City and Eagle, The Payette Scenic Byway meanders over 100 miles north to New Meadows. Heading north on Idaho 55 to New Meadows, enjoy breathtaking views of the Payette River lined by trees painted in brilliant fall hues.
The Rainbow Bridge is a great place to stop to enjoy the abundant fall colors and provides a stunning backdrop for a selfie or two.
The drive passes through Eagle, Horseshoe Bend, Cascade, Donnelly, McCall, and New Meadows, with each town offering its own distinct personality and unique glimpse of fall.
Another autumn road trip worth making is The Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway. The Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway is accessible via Banks off Idaho 55, heading east, or in Lowman off Idaho 21, heading west. Experience 33 miles of picturesque Idaho along the South Fork of the Payette River as the highway cuts through steep canyons.
Enjoy rugged cliffs, beautiful fall foliage, and wildlife as you traverse the route. Garden Valley offers various dining opportunities, as well as the renowned Starlight Mountain Theater, which is open from late May through early September.
The Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway starts in East Boise and meanders north through the Boise National Forest to the Idaho 75 junction in Stanley. The road passes Lucky Peak Reservoir, the Boise River, and the South Fork of the Payette River en route. It also is close to several hot springs, as well as the Sawtooth Wilderness and Stanley Lake. Towering pines and other trees abound along the way, providing an exceptional view of the state’s fall colors.
Traveling the Lower Payette River Heritage Byway, a 53-mile jaunt between Payette and Horseshoe Bend includes stunning views of the Payette River and the diverse foliage that lines the route. Experience the Black Canyon Reservoir and Dam, the Roystone Hot Springs, and the Montour Wildlife Refuge. The cities of Emmett and Payette feature some historical sites worth exploring.
In Central Idaho, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway is 115 miles of breathtaking wilderness as it winds its way through the Boulder Mountains between Shoshone and Stanley on Idaho 75. If heading north from Shoshone, you’ll pass through Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley – a winter playground to the stars and home to some celebrities.
The route affords travelers picturesque views of the Sawtooth Mountains as the fall colors envelop them. Stopping by Redfish Lake in Stanley is a must to see the pristine lake and nearby foliage.
The Last Word
For those living here in Idaho, we know that autumn brings not just football but also a rapid drop in the temperature and an explosion of colors as the area’s foliage changes. The fall colors provide unique backgrounds for family portraits and are excellent motivation for people to get out and enjoy the Idaho outdoors before the cold winter months set in.
Whether you choose to walk, bike, hike, stroll, or drive, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the brilliant oranges, vibrant yellows, and deep reds that are hallmarks of fall here in Idaho and the Treasure Valley. Grab your camera, a pumpkin spice latte, your friends and family, and get out and experience autumn in Idaho.
Main Photo Credit: iStock.com/Vince Barnes