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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Idaho in 2023

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Idaho in 2023

Idaho has enjoyed a huge surge in tourism in the last few years, with more than 35 million tourists in 2022 alone. But what’s drawing everyone to the Gem State all of a sudden?

Bordering Washington and Oregon, Idaho is as far west as you can get without being on the coast. The northern border touches Canada, making it ideal for anyone who’s visiting the nation as well.

Because of its proximity to Canada, many visitors to Idaho come from our neighbors to the north. Maybe you’re a Vancouver native wanting to see Idaho’s mountains, or maybe you’re an east coast American wanting to see the West.

No matter what’s drawing you to the Gem State, we’re here to help. We’re going to cover some of the best (and worst) times to visit Idaho to help you plan your visit.

Keep reading for a list of what you should remember while planning. We’ll also go over some of the more common questions regarding Idaho. Let us be your guide!

Why You Should Visit Idaho

When most people think of Idaho, they likely think of potatoes. Much like how many equate fried chicken with Kentucky, Idaho’s agricultural output has earned it the reputation as the Potato State.

But there’s much more to see in Idaho than potato farms and creative takes on spud dishes. Many aren’t aware of the stunning natural beauty you can find in the Gem State.

Idaho earned the nickname of the Gem State for its abundance of scenery and nature. While this name was originally intended to draw settlers to the territory, it’s a name well-deserved all the same.

Idaho’s southern half is home to an enormous amount of hot springs to enjoy. The volcanic activity in this region provides hot springs such as Banbury, Thousand Springs, Miracle, Durfee, and more. The waterways of the Gem State provide unmatched whitewater rafting.

If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping rafting, Idaho provides the best you’ll find in the nation. Wildlife in areas like the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is also a can’t-miss attraction.

With a mountain range of more than 40 peaks above 10,000 feet, 700 miles of trails, and hundreds of lakes, you can’t top the mountains.

No matter what’s bringing you to Idaho, you’re certain to enjoy your time in the Gem State. Be sure you’re making a list of everything you intend to see — it’ll take several trips just to see all the mountains!

Overall Best Time to Visit Idaho

Sun rising over the Sawtooth Mountains with a still pond in the middle of some pine trees pictured during the best time to visit Idaho

Charles Knowles/Shutterstock

With so much to see, when’s the best time to visit Idaho? As you may suspect, much of the timing comes from what you intend to see.

Are you visiting to experience nature? You may not want to come in the dead of winter. Temperatures in the Northwest dip below freezing, making outdoor activity challenging.

Would you rather stick to the cities? Coming during peak tourism season can mean higher prices, bigger crowds, and more hassle. Still, some prefer this time for the bigger crowds and lively atmosphere.

Generally speaking, the best time to visit is toward the end of summer, just before fall. Visiting between June and September will help you avoid the high summer temperatures and the frigid winters.

In this time gap, you can find temperatures in the high 50s to 60s. This temperature provides a great window to enjoy the outdoors, though you may find water-based activities a bit chilly.

If you’re aiming for water rafting, swimming, or lake-based activities, then come during summer. Summer temperatures are much warmer (in the high 80s) and can knock the chill away.

Overall, it’s best to research what you want to do and visit at what time fits that entertainment. Idaho is also home to festivals and concerts which help influence your visit. Make a list of your can’t-miss attractions and plan your visit around them.

Cheapest Time to Visit Idaho

Hot air balloon over a valley in between mountains pictured during the cheapest time to visit Idaho

B Brown/Shutterstock

Now that we know the best time, when’s the cheapest time? For many vacationers, the lowest prices mean the best time to visit! Sneaking in just before fall begins is the cheapest time to visit.

Try coming during mid to late September for the lowest travel costs and the sparsest crowds. If you’re staying in town, some prices may increase toward the end of September or early October.

Many come to Idaho for the winter, so make sure you decide on a budget early on. If your budget only allows certain expenses, knowing everything beforehand is best.

An alternative to scheduling your trip during the cheapest time of year is to camp. Camping is free in many areas if you don’t include the cost of your supplies, and Idaho offers many locations to set up a tent and camp off-grid.

Least Busy Time to Visit Idaho

Guy on an empty path hiking during the least busy time to visit Idaho with a dog following him in September


Visiting Idaho is rarely as busy as in some locations. While it receives a great deal of tourism, it isn’t as popular as vacation destination states like Florida or California. Thankfully, this means that you rarely have to plan around crowds.

If you’re enjoying some high-demand entertainment options, crowds may be a problem. You will find peak tourism brings issues with dinner reservations or wait times.

Traffic will increase, and your favorite lake may have a crowd. To avoid these crowds, consider coming in November or late September.

This window lets you sneak in when the peak season is fading, and the rain and snow haven’t hit yet. If you’re camping, be aware that temperatures will begin to plummet during this time.

You also may find yourself not able to enjoy lakes or whitewater rafting. The lower temperatures can make these activities much less safe.

Worst Time to Visit Idaho

Sun valley pictured in the winter, the worst time to visit Idaho, with snow-capped mountains


The worst time depends on your desires! If you want to see snow-topped mountains, coming during winter is best. Want to enjoy the outdoors without shivering? Late summer or spring is best.

Generally speaking, we would advise against visiting during the deep winter. Mid to late December and January is the heart of winter in Idaho.

Staying at this time can bring some of the harshest temperatures you’ll experience. Daytime temperatures can reach below freezing at 30 F and lower. Many outdoor activities are impossible during winter.

Of course, you can still enjoy snowboarding, skiing, and other snow time activities. However, you’ll find camping, whitewater rafting, and other such activities difficult or impossible. It’s best to plan your visit for the warmer months.

Consider visiting just before winter in November for a warmer visit without the peak crowds. If you’re trying to avoid peak crowds, visiting during August and early September is the worst time.

These months bring the fall crowd, which is the most considerable amount of tourism Idaho sees. As a result, costs typically rise as well. Hotel rooms are more expensive (and more crowded), while airfare increases as well.

Things to Consider

With everything discussed, you’ve likely decided when to visit the Gem State. But there are still a few things to keep in mind! When booking your visit, here are the things you should always consider.

Some of these items relate more to one time of year than another. While some may not apply to you, it’s best to keep them in mind if your situation changes.

These include:

  • Are you prepared for an Idaho winter?
  • Will you be staying in Idaho or hopping state lines?
  • If you intend to go to Canada, are all of your affairs in order for international travel?
  • How long will you be in Idaho?
  • Are you focusing on any specific entertainment options?
  • Will your outdoor adventure keep you toward mountains, or will you be whitewater rafting as well?
  • What’s your mode of transportation for this trip?
  • If visiting during winter, do you feel comfortable driving on snowy or icy roads?
  • Will you be enjoying the outdoors alone? If so, do you have the supplies needed to ensure your safety?
  • What city will you be staying in?

Frequently Asked Questions

Amazing aerial view of Snoshone Falls on the Snake River in Idaho, taken during the best time to visit the state

Benny Marty/Shutterstock

As you plan your trip, you’re almost guaranteed to run across a few unsolved questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding a trip to the Gem State:

When does Idaho see the most precipitation?

Idaho has a relatively dry summer, but the rest of the year has high precipitation. The wet season lasts nearly seven and a half months, making it the bulk of the year. It’s common for areas very close to the Pacific to experience lengthy, light precipitation.

From mid-October to the first day of June, Idaho experiences a high amount of rainy days. The wettest month is December, with an average of 8.1 days experiencing rain. This metric counts any days with 0.04 inches of precipitation or more and uses Boise as an example.

If you’re trying to avoid the rain, you should visit during the summer. June, July, and August see the lowest rainfall and the highest temperatures. September and June have lower temperatures than the two months between them, with equal precipitation.

Is it dangerous to be in Idaho during the winter?

Yes and no. If you’re familiar with harsh winters, Idaho isn’t any more dangerous than other places with heavy snowfall. However, some activities become more dangerous. While driving, snowy or icy roads are more dangerous than usual roads.

If you’re unfamiliar with driving on ice or don’t have the right equipment, you should avoid it at all costs. Nothing will ruin your vacation quicker than an accident.

If you’re enjoying the outdoors in a camper, winter is significantly more dangerous than other times of the year. The elements and injury or harm by exposure are serious risks. Wildlife can also be more aggressive due to a lack of food.

How long should I plan to visit to see everything?

It’s unlikely you’ll see everything in a single trip. Consider taking an entire month to experience Idaho’s great outdoors and activities fully.

A week or two will suffice if you only want to see one feature, such as the mountains or the rivers. Make sure you have a schedule of what you’ll enjoy and when!

Is it safe to camp in Idaho?

Yes! If you bring the proper supplies, adequate experience, and plan accordingly, camping is perfectly safe. Consider planning your trip for when the weather will complement your camping trip.

Can you enter Canada from Idaho?

Yes, Idaho has two border crossings. Porthill Rykerts and Eastport Kingsgate will give access to and from British Columbia.

So, When Should You Visit Idaho?

Planning a trip to Idaho requires a good knowledge of the seasons and the outdoors. If you’re experiencing the beautiful nature Idaho offers, aim for the summer to avoid rain and freezing temperatures.

If you’re more interested in city life and don’t mind the cold, visiting in winter will help you dodge the crowds. So, with so much to see and do and technically no bad time to go, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Idaho today!