Every ‘Thelma-and- Louise’ Style Girls’ Road-Trip Itinerary in Idaho Starts Somewhere Fabulous 

In my own version of the ultimate road- trip movie “Thelma and Louise”; ( i.e. one where I don’t drive off a cliff),  I teamed up with an adventurous and travel-writing doyen gal-pal for a girls’ road-trip itinerary in Idaho and to adventure.  Our fabulous starting point was America’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, in the Great American West , but our road-trip was to take us far beyond the park, headed west, north-west into our own private Idaho.

Girls try the zipline at Twin Falls in Idaho

AWOL zipline Twin Falls Idaho

Image: Zipline Adventure Park. Credit: Visit Idaho.

Yippee We Are Now in Idaho!

Of course we are excited to enter Idaho soon after leaving West Yellowstone and decide to head to Victor. Firstly, we backtrack towards the border of Wyoming and the Teton Mountain Range, via Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. Next, during this stretch, taking a detour for a breather at the wildly beautiful Lower and Upper Mesa Falls is a pitstop you will not regret.

Following on from Ashton, Idaho, the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway heads northeast into the lush landscape of the Targhee National Forest. This close- to- thirty-mile loop is hugely impressive, snaking all the way to the Island Park area. Along the way, visitors will spot the popular Warm River campground and two of the most magnificent waterfalls in the West — Lower and Upper Mesa Falls. Following this at the upper falls you can stop at the historic Big Falls interpretive center to learn about the geology and history of the area.

the wonderful Lower Mesa Falls in Targhee National Forest

Lower Mesa Falls

A Sidestep East

Without a doubt the backtracking east is well worth it as we are staying at the fabulous Teton Springs Lodge and Spa, a great option for families, golfers and skiers in winter as it’s located an easy drive from the Teton Mountains and both Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (over the border in Wyoming).  Next on the list, dining and drinks- check! And the spa- heaven for girls ‘roughing it’ in the ‘wilderness’! Of course you can’t forget the sensational breakfast; well a girl needs to keep her energy up on the road!

The famed Teton Mountain Range is a view on the Idaho Road Trip itinerary

Image: Teton Mountain Range. Credit: Visit Idaho

Girls in Idaho Gotta Go West

Finally we are again heading west; making our first stop at Idaho Falls for a visit to the oh-so-memorable Idaho Potato Museum. Even if you routinely ‘don’t do museums’, this one is a MUST! Hint: Marilyn Monroe  and /or mashed-potato fans will love it!

The famous Big Spud outside the Idaho Potato Museum

Idaho Potato Museum

Idaho’s ‘Strangest Little Town’

Following Highway 20 there is a whistle-stop in Arco, a tiny town with a big story. In 1955, tiny Arco won fame as “the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power”. Today, it mainly serves as a jumping-off point for excursions into our next destination, the nearby Craters of the Moon National Monument. Arco is one of Idaho’s strangest little towns. For instance, there are numbers painted on the rock mountain that towers above  the town, and the sign in the park on Grand Avenue explains that graduating high school classes have been adding their class years to the monument since 1920, which makes for a spectacular, if odd, graffiti installation.

Next while exploring Arco, we manage to find the epitome of small-town America diners, Pickle’s Place, complete with an elderly ex-, or maybe current, biker chick with long grey hair and tattoos everywhere, rocking the counter. The Harley complete with a sidecar and American flag parked outside was only to be expected. Now we’re talkin’ Thelma and Louise, but sadly, still no sign of Brad Pitt!

Craters of The Moon National Monument and Preserve: To the Moon Alice! Well, here’s your chance without leaving earth…

Firstly we recommend you start your Craters experience with a stop at the Visitor Center for maps, trail suggestions and information about upcoming presentations, guided hike and events. Visitors to Craters can drive the loop road or hike a variety of trails. In the winter, it is a popular spot for snowshoe treks and cross-country skiing. Plan to stay as the sun goes down and check out the out- of- this- world night because the area is a designated International Dark Sky Park, which means there will be no shortage of stars to observe.

an essential stop in the girls roadtrip itinerary in Idaho is Craters of the Moon National Monument entrance, near Arco.

Image: Craters of the Moon National Monument entrance, near Arco. Credit: Visit Idaho.

Discover Twin Falls

Undoubtedly one of the best things about a girls’ road trip itinerary in Idaho is the unplanned stops or places that delight and exceed your expectations. On this trip, one of our most exciting ‘discoveries’ was the stunning Twin Falls. We enjoyed its many delights so much that we found ourselves wanting to set up camp  and stay awhile. To start with, Twin Falls is one of those road trip ‘finds’ that you simply can’t believe you didn’t know about before.

Moreover, while there we had a dinner fit to civilize even the most ardent of adventuring fast-food girls; at the top of the canyon at Elevation486! With that view and the spectacular food, we felt like royalty. We loved  the fresh Northwest Seafood linguine and Idaho Ruby Red trout, but the Canyon-cut rib eye will be  next on our hit list when we make a return journey. Especially good for the girls who need their iron boost! Not ones to skip on dessert, we topped it off with homemade Apple-Blackberry crisp washed down with Koenig Vineyards Idaho Ice wine. This was a truly fine-dining experience to rave about!

Visit beautiful Perrine Coulee Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho

Image: Perrine Coulee Falls, Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.

It should be noted when in Twin Falls a stop-off at Snake River is essential. With so many adventure options on our girls road trip itinerary in Idaho, the thrill- seekers among us are sure to have a fantastic time. In our opinion, the kayaking (which was our absolute favourite) is not to be missed. Another fun find was the Blue Lakes Inn; with its quirky 50’s,road-trip style, motel accommodation and friendly family service, it is a recommended stay for all travellers passing through.

Family fun mountain biking near Snake River Canyon in Idaho

Image: Mountain biking near Snake River Canyon. Credit: Visit Idaho.

The Shoshone Falls: who knew?

Visit Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls in Idaho

Image: Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.

Located at the edge of Twin Falls, Shoshone Falls is a the stand-out attraction and scenic beauty on the Snake River. At 212 feet, the falls are higher than Niagara Falls and offer a unique blend of recreational facilities, including playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, a boat ramp, swimming area, and a scenic overlook.  Try a picnic in the shaded, grassy areas which provide a perfect vantage point for viewing Shoshone Falls. We never wanted to leave! But the highway calls.

Let’s hit the road!

Following this was stop two! The next leg of our girls’ road-trip itinerary is the easy 2.5 hour drive on Thousand Springs Scenic Byway: it had us increasingly excited to be  heading to Idaho’s capital city of Boise, for a much needed girls’ night out on the town.

a must stop on the girls roadtrip itinerary in Idaho is the overlook for a view of Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls.

Image: Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.

What a detour; gotta love these dunes!

Before we could make it to Boise we were again distracted; so much to see, so little time. Who doesn’t love a detour, though? Especially when the tallest freestanding sand dunes are calling us to stop at Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. With the highest dunes reaching 470 feet, we channeled out inner children and hiked to the very top of this adult-sized sandpit. The view and bragging rights make the climb well worth it. The dunes at Bruneau Dunes State Park are unique in the Western Hemisphere. While other dunes in the Americas form at the edge of a natural basin, the Bruneau dunes form near the center. The dunes started with sands from the Bonneville Flood which occurred about 15,000 years ago and, unlike most dunes, the sands here do not drift far from the peaks which overlook the surrounding plains and picturesque lakes.

a fun detour on the girls roadtrip was to vsiit Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. Idaho

Image: Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park, near Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.

Back on track

Last but not least we tiredly (but happily) finally get back on track for Boise. We were very ready to frock up and see the sights and lights of such a green and beautiful city.

Too many things to delight and discover about Boise:

Downtown Boise Idaho is a green and beautiful city

Image: Downtown Boise. Credit: Visit Idaho.

First up: a two-night stay at Hotel 43 in downtown Boise was just what the road doctor ordered; perfect plush robes, free wifi, Caffe D’Arte coffee AND close to everything. We’re talking right next door to the one and only Chandlers, Boise’s best steak and seafood restaurant where Boise’s upper echelon, folk- in- the- know head for sophisticated cocktails and to be seen. An added bonus for the morning after; free bicycles we could explore on!

Exploring Boise’s Green Belt

With the free bike, why not ride the Boise River Green Belt? Our highlight was the spring blossoms that fell as we rode past, looking like summer ‘snow’. That, tied with startling two gorgeous fawns in the bushes beside the river (which was as startling for us as for them)! Scooters, bicycles, roller skates, running or walking; these 25 miles of pathway and green oasis is one of the city’s most loved assets, providing wildlife habitat, scenic views and pedestrian access to the city’s popular riverside parks.

Biking tracks, Boise River Green Belt give access to many of the city parks

Image: Biking tracks, Boise River Green Belt. Credit: Visit Idaho.

Calling all culture and history buffs; here are our top Boise suggestions for things to see and do:

Food culture is a taste sensation at the Basque Market in Boise Idaho

Image: The Basque Market. Credit: Visit Idaho.

History and culture buffs will love the Nez Perce National Historical Visitor Center

Image: Nez Perce National Historical Park Visitor Center. Credit: Visit Idaho.

Wildlife and conservation your thing?

If you answered yes, we have the perfect suggestion: The Worldwide Center for Birds of Prey. Wonderful and wild, you can drop in to hear the heartwarming story of how they saved the Peregrine falcon from extinction; a joyous tale of conservation success. Now home for raptors who cannot be returned to the wild, this is a haven for unique animals and a glimpse into the world of some of the most fascinating and rare birds from around the globe. Or learn more about the ancient art of falconry; it will have you pining for the romance of the desert and your very own Lawrence of Arabia.

Girls Road-trip Itinerary in Idaho: Your FAQ

  • Suggested entry point airports: Denver, Jackson, Salt Lake City.
  • For car or camper rental Alamo, DriveAway and other companies are readily available to book your favourite car or camper van out of any of the entry cities.
  • More about Yellowstone National Park here
  • Discover more about planning your own private road-trip to Idaho here

Rafting the Payette River Idaho is girls' adventure fun

Image: Rafting the Payette River. Credit: Visit Idaho.