On your next trip out West, forget about Colorado or California. Visitors in the know are heading for Idaho. There’s lot more here than potatoes. In fact, the state’s wild, unspoiled terrain is dotted with natural wonders, a intriguing range of activities and loads of hidden finds. Wondering where to kick off your Idaho adventure? Give these five great sights a look:
Craters Of The Moon National Monument
You feel you might be on the moon’s surface at Craters of the Moon National Monument, covering 618 square miles of desolate volcanic wasteland bearing lava tube caves and cinder cones southwest of Arco. Apollo Astronauts visited in 1969 to practice exploring the moon. The visitor’s center has exhibits and films. Take a hike on one of the many trails or enjoy the stark scenery along a 7-mile loop drive. Admission: $8 autos, $4 cycles or by foot, under 15 free. Campsites are available.
Hagerman Fossil Beds
More than 200 specimens of the Hagerman Horse, along with mastodons and saber-toothed cats are still being found at the Hagerman Fossil Beds, a quarry north of Buhl. Be ready to do some walking but no digging. A couple of miles away, the Hagerman Valley Historical Museum houses this zebra-sized replica which has become Idaho’s state fossil. Kids can apply hands-on activities with the pre-historic displays and sign up to be a ranger. Donations are welcomed. Hours: May-October, Wednesday-Sunday, 1-4; November-April, Saturday-Sunday, 1-4.
It’s nearly a 200 foot climb to Balanced Rock, the camel’s head-shaped rock perched on a pedestal only 3 feet by 17 inches. As you feel very small underneath this 40 ton monster, you’ll be treated to a view of the spectacular Snake River country below. Less than a mile from the rock, nestled between two walls of volcanic rock, free camping is available in the small and narrow, yet peaceful state park south of Buhl.
World Center of Birds Of Prey
Located south of Boise on Flying Hawk Lane, the World Center of Birds of Prey and interpretive center breeds birds of prey in captivity to release to the wild. Viewing our nation’s Bald Eagle or Idaho’s state bird, the Peregrine Falcon, from only a few feet away makes you realize what large birds they are when you see them soaring through the air hundreds of feet above. Live bird presentations are regularly scheduled. Hours: November-February, Tuesday-Sunday, 10-4; March-October, daily, 9-5. Admission: $7 general, $6 (62+), $5 (4-16), under 4 free.
Warhawk Air Museum
Getting up close to real air planes can make you feel mighty small. World War II History of Aviation, right up to the space age, is depicted in the aerial displays of Warhawk Air Museum, located in Nampa on Municipal Drive. Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 to 4; Saturday, 10-5. Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors and military identification, $4 (5-12), under 5 free.