For short weekend trips, fall is the ideal time. There’s less traffic, no snow, and plenty to see.
Since most of Idaho is full of natural wonders, every season has its own beauty. Idaho has fall colors, just not the kind you’ll find in, say, New England. We don’t have that many maples, dogwoods, and aspen. Instead, we have pine trees, sagebrush that turns gorgeous shades of yellow, and grasses that turn varying shades of gold, red, and orange. And you will certainly see deciduous trees turning colors, particularly along river banks.
For me, fall is more about enjoying the cooler weather. Boise is in the desert, so summers can be extremely hot. A fall weekend in the mountains is just the escape.
For some great outdoor fall trips, here are some ideas:
Hiawatha Trail in north Idaho near Wallace, Idaho, was once a train track. Like many old tracks, it has been turned into biking trails. Through spectacular scenery, the trail is relatively easy and flat. You will see amazing vistas.
Spend a day learning about wolves, an amazing animal with a complex social system. The Wolf Education Research Center in Winchester, Idaho makes no promises that you will see the wolf pack, but you can walk the trails, wait, and watch. Take a guided tour. Or just meander.
Need a retreat? The Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho is a popular respite from the hustling outside world. Here you can enjoy the silence, volunteer some of your time, renew and refresh your soul. A Benedictine society, the sisters here also run an Inn as well as hold regular themed retreats. Or you can simply stay for a self-directed retreat.
Redfish Lake Lodge near Stanley Idaho is busy all summer with campers, boaters, fisherman, and weddings. Fall is still relatively busy, but much less so. This area of Idaho is often very cold and snowy in winter, which has its own appeal. But I like fall, because the cool days make for perfect hiking temperatures. And the brisk, cold nights make having a campfire a true necessity. The lodge is open through October 8.
If you’ll be in Boise, there are always a variety of options. For example, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, an outdoor theater, will be producing its final play of the season during all of September, 39 Steps. Or you might like Art in the Park, a huge art and craft fair sponsored by the Boise Art Museum. There’s also the Hyde Park Street Fair, a great place to watch all the aging hippies as well as kids, dogs, and musicians. There are booths selling wares, turkey drumsticks to eat, and all kinds of fun. Later in the month, the Idaho Women’s Fitness Celebration
draws more than 20,000 women to run/walk/stroll a 5K through the streets of Boise.
Bruneau Dunes State Park is great for fall camping. Out in the southern Idaho desert, Bruneau Dunes can get way to hot in the summer. But by fall, it has cooled down enough to get out and play in the sand dunes and then observe the stars at night.
Hells Canyon is another perfect place for fall camping. This magnificent canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America and also gets extremely hot during summer. Fall provides a relief from the heat along with great water sports and fishing.