Known as the “Gem State,” Idaho is the home to many small towns nestled in the Rocky Mountains, making it a truly spectacular place to explore. Located at points all across the State, these mountain towns are truly picture-perfect and a great way to discover the small town charm of Idaho. This article looks at 8 Prettiest Mountain Towns in Idaho.
Along the border with Washington State, Moscow is the seat of Latah County and home to the University of Idaho. For some stunning views of nature, head on over to Moscow Mountain, where some breathtaking vistas and beautifully colored foliage (particularly in autumn) will be sure to impress. Tourists can enjoy activities such as mountain biking, hiking, and even horseback riding, all in the vicinity of the Columbia River Plateau, at an elevation of 2,600 feet above sea level.
Nestled at the bottom of the Sawtooth Mountains, the town of Stanley is the ideal place for the often elusive peace, quiet, and relaxation. With a permanent population of just 116, Stanley can indeed be a spot easy to miss, but its natural beauty surely makes it a locale not to pass over. Surrounded by the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, visitors can enjoy plenty of hiking, biking, and swimming opportunities, or perhaps even catch a fish or two at the nearby Salmon River.
The largest city of Boundary County, Bonners Ferry, lies right along the banks of the Kootenai River. Founded in the late 19th century as a Gold Rush town, today, it remains one of Northern Idaho’s most beautiful mountain towns. Tourists can enjoy exploring the historic downtown and its assortment of important buildings, quaint shops, and charming restaurants, all with pleasant mountain air. For the animal lover, a stop at the Kootenai Wildlife Refuge is a great way to see local species and conservation methods.
Wallace is surrounded by trees and was founded in 1884 alongside the Coeur d’Alene River as a principal spot in the region’s silver mining district. Indeed the entire town and its population of just under 1,000 is on the National Register of Historic Places! Whether it is winter, summer, or fall, a stroll through Main Street is always a treat in Wallace, with great mountain surroundings, charming hospitality, and a bevy of great shops and other dining places.
Located in Eastern Idaho's Teton Valley, Driggs offers tourists spectacular views of the Teton Mountain Range and its forested area. With mild summers and winters, this town of 1,600 residents is a pleasant escape year round and is home to many great boutiques, restaurants, and local galleries. Enjoy some of the wonderful festivals on offer as well, including Shakespeare in the Park, Teton Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival, and the Music on Main concert series in the summertime.
Surrounded by stunning landscapes of the Rocky Mountains, Sun Valley is known as "America's First Destination Ski Resort". But beyond skiing, snowboarding, and other alpine sports, this resort town has so many other things to offer. With plenty of shining sun (hence its name), beautiful blue skies, and great summer activities like biking, hiking, mountain climbing, golfing, and fly fishing, no matter what time of year, Sun Valley is a wonderful place to get the best of mountain life in Idaho.
Also, a resort town, McCall, was founded as a logging community on the shores of Payette Lake. Like Sun Valley, the town of McCall is a great place to visit no matter what the season. In summer, enjoy some great hiking trails, casual strolls through town, a dip in the Gold Fork Hot Springs, and some tanning on the shores of the lake. Wintertime is also renowned in McCall, especially for its Winter Carnival and Little Ski Hill, just a few kilometers from the town center.
Custer County's largest town, Challis, is right in the middle of Idaho and has a population of just under 1,000 permanent residents. Challis was founded in 1878, and some of its historic buildings, including the Twin Peaks Sports Building from 1909, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can enjoy a rural setting where hiking, biking, fishing, and even hot springs are always popular. Meanwhile, a day trip to the Land of the Yankee Fort State Park is only a 3-kilometer drive away, and tourists can try their hand at gold panning and learn about Idaho's mining history.
Located all across the State, the mountain towns of Idaho truly show why the area is known as the "Gem State." With splendid panoramic views, charming town settlements, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, a trip through some of Idaho's great mountain locales is a vacation that will surely bring plenty of fun, smiles, and memories to last a lifetime.