Little Redfish Lake by Charles Knowles / CC BY 2.0
Idaho is an amazing state for landscape and nature photography. Not only is it full of stunning locations that are ideal for beautiful photos, but even the best locations in Idaho are relatively unknown to most people throughout the United States. This makes it easier to get unique and original photos, as opposed to some of the more popular parks and locations in the west that are so highly recognizable. On this page you’ll find descriptions of some of the most noteworthy places in Idaho for photographing. The interactive map below shows the location of each spot mentioned on this page.
This page will continue to be a work in progress, so please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions of great places to photograph.
Owyhee River Wilderness
The Owyhee River Wilderness of southwestern Idaho includes the amazing, and deep, canyons around the river. This beautiful area is seen by very few people. There are no trails and only a few rough roads that provide access, but those who venture in the Owyhee River Wilderness can come away with some amazing photos. The Bruneau Overlook (pictured below) is accessible by road from the town of Bruneau. The Owyhee Uplands National Back Country Byway (gravel road) is also a good way to see the area.
Owyhee River Wilderness by BLM / CC BY 2.0
Bruneau Dunes State Park
In southwestern Idaho Bruneau Dunes State Park is home to 470-foot high sand dunes. The landscape here is probably not something you would expect to find in Idaho. No motor vehicles are allowed on the dunes, but you can hike to get some great views and photos.
Bruneau Dunes State Park by Charles Knowles / CC BY 2.0
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
The white quartz sand dunes of St. Anthony, Idaho cover 10,000 acres. They are the home of a large herd of wintering elk (most of the area is closed in the winter), and also a popular area for off-roading. While it is popular for recreation, the area is also excellent for photography.
St. Anthony Sand Dunes by Bob Wick / CC BY 2.0
Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Sawtooth National Forest
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho is managed as part of the Sawtooth National Forest. The recreation area includes more than 700 miles of trails, 40 peaks of at least 10,000 feet, and more than 300 mountain lakes. Needless to say, there are plenty of photographic opportunities here. Information on the many trails and campgrounds can be found on this page.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area by Roy Luck / CC BY 2.0
Sawtooth Scenic Byway
The Sawtooth Scenic Byway (State Highway 75) provides access to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It runs about 115 miles from the town of Shoshone (about 30 miles north of Shoshone Falls) to Stanley (near Redfish Lake). It is a great way to access the Sawtooth National Forest and catch some astounding views along the way.
Sawtooth Scenic Byway by Dk4hb / Public Domain
Redfish Lake and Little Redfish Lake
Redfish Lake and Little Redfish Lake are located in central Idaho within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. At the base of the Sawtooth Mountains, these two lakes are very photogenic. The area is popular for recreation and can be accessed easily from State Highway 75. A lodge and campground are available.
Little Redfish Lake by Charles Knowles / CC BY 2.0
Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area
The Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area is located in southern Idaho, south of the Sawtooth National Forest. The flat prairie creates a shallow floodplain in the spring, but is typically dry by July. Lillies bloom in the spring, and many migratory birds can be found in the area.
Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area by Charles Knowles / CC BY 2.0
Hells Canyon straddles the Idaho and Oregon border, with the Snake River running through the canyon. It is the deepest river gorge in North America, and the area is managed as part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. There are a few roads that provide access on the Idaho side of the river. Hells Canyon Road follows the river for more than 20 miles. Information about everything available in the Idaho section (hiking, camping, viewpoints, etc.) can be found on this page.
Hells Canyon by Forest Service / Public Domain
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
In southern Idaho, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a truly amazing place that makes it possible to come away with very unique photos. This area includes more than 1,100 square miles of lava fields and sagebrush steppe grasslands. The 7-mile Loop Road is the best way to access the area. Several trailheads and overlooks are located along Loop Road. The Wilderness Trail is a great way to explore the area further.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve by Bob Wick / CC BY 2.0
City of Rocks National Reserve
City of Rocks National Reserve is located in southern Idaho, south of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. The amazing granite spires make it a popular location for climbers, but it is equally awesome for photographers. The best ways to see and photograph the reserve are to use the 22 miles of hiking trails, or take the 49-mile City of Rocks Back Country Byway.
City of Rocks National Reserve by NPS / Public Domain
Snake River Canyon
The beautiful Snake River Canyon in southern Idaho is over 50 miles long. It is up to 500 feet deep and 0.25 miles wide. This area includes Shoshone Falls and the Perrine Bridge. There is a 10-mile paved walking path running along the south rim of the canyon. The path can be accessed at Shoshone Falls or the Twin Falls Visitor’s Center.
Snake River Canyon by chadh / CC BY 2.0
The Perrine Bridge crosses the Snake River Canyon in the town of Twin Falls. The Twin Falls Visitor’s Center is just south of the bridge. The bridge is 486 feet above the Snake River, and it is a popular location for base jumping. It is also quite scenic spanning the canyon. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway, so you can venture out onto the bridge for a nice view of the river and canyon.
Perrine Bridge by Daniel Mayer / CC BY-SA 1.0
In southern Idaho near the town of Twin Falls is Shoshone Falls. This impressive waterfall on the Snake River is more than 200 feet high and nearly 1,000 feet wide. A park at the rim overlooks the falls. The best time to see the falls is in spring when the water flow is highest.
Shoshone Falls by Charles Knowles / CC BY 2.0
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area runs along 80 miles of the Snake River in southwestern Idaho. It is home to the greatest concentration of birds of prey (especially raptors) in North America. The conservation area includes plenty of hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. Additionally, the landscape itself is stunning and ready to be photographed.
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area by Bob Wick / CC BY 2.0
Upper Mesa Falls
In eastern Idaho, Upper Mesa Falls is another great option for photographers. It is more than 100 feet high and 200 feet wide. One mile downstream on Henry’s Fork, Lower Mesa Falls is an additional 65 feet. The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway makes access easy, with a viewing platform available.
Mesa Falls by Zechariah Judy / CC BY 3.0
Balanced Rock is located in the Salmon Falls Creek Canyon, about 30 miles west of Shoshone Falls. This nearly 50-foot balancing rock is a great sight, and an interesting photograph.
Balanced Rock by Terry Robinson / CC BY-SA 2.0
Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness
The massive Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness includes more than 2 million acres. The area includes the Main Salmon River as well as the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, rugged mountains, and deep canyons. Although a large percentage of the wilderness includes no trails at all, there are still nearly 300 maintained trails and more than 30 forest service roads in total throughout the wilderness.
Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness by Rex Parker / CC BY 2.0
Tower Creek Pyramids
In central Idaho near the town of Salmon is a small 3-acre area known as the Tower Creek Pyramids. The rock formations make an interesting subject for photos.
Tower Creek Pyramids by BLM / CC BY 2.0