Zero. Despite Idaho’s verdant hills of conifer, it cannot boast having a national park in its borders. As unlucky as it may seem, Idaho is in the crossroads of several beautiful and popular national parks: Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Teton.
Yellowstone National Park
Though not technically in Idaho, Yellowstone’s west entrance is just a stone’s throw over the Montana boarder. Yellowstone is famous for its geysers, thermal pools, and grand waterfalls. Buffalo, moose, and bear are readily seen in lush meadows, climbing trees, and, sometimes, in the middle of the road.
Yellowstone is accommodating to all abilities. The park’s prominent features, including Grand Prismatic, Lower Falls, and Old Faithful, are all accessible by car and are decorated with boardwalks that give you the best view and the best experience possible. Yellowstone also offers hundreds of miles of backcountry trails for those looking to escape the crowds and stay off the beaten path.
Any Idahoan can enjoy this park in a weekend.
The Tetons are an epic mountain range jutting the horizon along the Idaho-Wyoming boarder. The national park offers pristine views of lakes, mountains, and wildlife. Offering over 230 miles in trails, you can easily find an alpine lake all to yourself. Bears and birds populate the area, so it is advised that hikers understand proper bear safety.
Camping in Grand Teton National Park is ideal. It offers over half a dozen campgrounds with breathtaking views of jagged, snowcapped peaks and beautiful lakes. In the peak season, most of the campgrounds fill up before noon.
Here you can find information about the popular hikes, such as the Lake Jenny Loop, that make Grand Teton National Park the gem of the west.
Glacier National Park
The National Parks Service nicknamed Glacier, “The Crown of the Continent.” It is characterized by overwhelming views of majestic mountains, abundant rivers, and pristine forests. This park is ideal for the adventurer and solitude seeker. However, there are activities for all abilities.
Going-to-the-Sun-Road is an iconic attraction. The 50-mile road takes you intimately through the expanse of Glacier National Park. Here, a traveler will experience breathtaking views of Logan Pass, Jackson Glacier, and St. Mary’s Lake. Bighorn sheep are a common sight. It takes roughly 2 hours to complete the loop and fuel is unavailable. Definitely plan ahead.
Going-to-the-Sun-Road is also popular among cyclists; however, there are some restrictions. From the middle of June to Labor Day, cyclists are not permitted to ride from 11 am to 4 pm. If you are planning on completing the rigorous 50 mile ride, be aware that you might be restricted on your time.
It is a shame that Idaho doesn’t have a national park of its own, but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying them. Idaho is surrounded by some of the greatest national parks in the country.