Southern Idaho is such a beautiful family-friendly location with so many different outdoor adventures to be had. It’s also a great place to visit and explore any time of year! From chasing waterfalls, exploring the beautiful canyons, and hiking through forests, there are so many outdoor adventures to do in Southern Idaho as a family. India Tate, mom of two, outdoor adventurer, and founder of Our Wanderlust Life, visited Southern Idaho in the late spring with her kids and is here to share her recommendations for your next vacation to this beautiful part of the country. 

Southern Idaho Outdoor Adventures

Southern Idaho with kids

Nestled in the heart of the Gem State, Southern Idaho and the charming Idaho Falls area, offer an abundance of unforgettable outdoor adventures for families. From the rugged mountains to the pristine lakes and the unique geological marvels, this region is a diverse playground for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

Two hours south of Boise is an adventure-filled area of Idaho. Twin Falls, Idaho, is in Southern Idaho, and it’s filled with many gems. Whether it’s hiking through stunning canyons, experiencing the thrill of waterfalls, or immersing yourselves in the rich history of the area, Southern Idaho promises to be a destination that will create memories to last a lifetime.

If Idaho hasn’t been on your list of places to visit, you should change that! It is truly worth a visit! There are many outdoor adventures to enjoy as a family, so join us as we uncover the natural gems and the family fun that make Southern Idaho a top choice for your next unforgettable family getaway. Let’s get started!

Balanced Rock Park in Southern Idaho

Outdoor adventures in Southern Idaho

Southern Idaho is a truly unique and compelling destination for families seeking to explore wildlife, embark on outdoor adventures, and reconnect with nature. What sets this region apart is its remarkable diversity of landscapes. From the towering peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains to the winding rivers that carve through deep canyons and the high desert plains that stretch as far as the eye can see, Southern Idaho is a geographical marvel that offers something for every outdoor enthusiast.

In addition to its stunning scenery, Southern Idaho boasts an array of outdoor activities perfectly suited for families. Whether you’re kayaking on the Snake River, hiking along the scenic trails of the Targhee National Forest, or casting a fishing line into one of the many crystal-clear lakes, you’ll find adventures that cater to all ages and skill levels.

The region’s numerous parks, nature reserves, and recreational areas provide great camping, picnicking, and stargazing. This unique blend of landscapes and outdoor activities makes Southern Idaho such a great destination for reconnecting with loved ones and nature, leaving families with a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

Box Canyon State Park & Nature Preserve

Box Canyon is a beautiful place to explore with your family. It is the 11th largest spring in North America and is not to be missed! You can take in the view of the Canyon from the overlook or walk the trail that leads you down into the Canyon.

Once you get to the base of the Canyon there will be a noticeable trail. You will then follow that trail to a 20-foot waterfall. From there, you will continue to the swimming hole! With any Canyon, be mindful of the weather in the forecast if going to the base of the Canyon is your plan. Also, note that there is a $7 vehicle fee to be paid in the parking lot once you arrive. 

The best part about exploring Box Canyon is you can spend a whole day or even a few hours here with your family. We loved exploring the area – it was so different than the terrain we’re used to back home. And even if you’re not up for much hiking, you can easily find a spot at the base of the canyon and spend the day relaxing and enjoying the pools. 

Overlooking Box Canyon State Park and Nature Preserve

Snake River Canyon

The Snake River carves a deep and rugged canyon through the heart of Southern Idaho, creating a landscape that is nothing short of breathtaking. The stunning Snake River Canyon stretches east and west of Twin Falls.

One of the standout features of the Snake River Canyon is the Perrine Bridge, a magnificent structure that spans the chasm and offers panoramic views of the canyon, the river, and the distant Blue Lakes. When you arrive in Twin Falls, from Boise you will cross over the Perrine Bridge and be able to see the canyon from either direction.

Along the Canyon are paved walking paths along the south rim of the canyon. Walking along the path will provide you with access to Shoshone Falls (see below) and even the Twin Falls Visitor Center. Snake River Canyon runs for 50 miles, so you can admire it from many viewpoints. Just south of the bridge is an amazing lookout point of the Canyon. 

For families, this vantage point is an excellent spot for observing the region’s diverse birdlife, and you may even catch sight of the peregrine falcons that call the canyon home. Exploring the canyon with your kids not only brings the wonder of geology to life but also instills a deep appreciation for the remarkable forces of nature that shaped this unique landscape. It’s an ideal destination for both adventure seekers and those looking to inspire their young ones with the beauty and grandeur of the natural world.

Overlooking Snake Rive Canyon

Perrine Coulee Falls 

Perrine Coulee Falls is one of Southern Idaho’s most picturesque and accessible waterfalls, and a must-see!

Nestled within the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, this hidden gem is quite the spectacle as the waters of the Snake River cascade over a series of basalt cliffs, creating a curtain of white mist.

This roadside waterfall is easy to access all year long, AND you can walk up under it! Who doesn’t love a waterfall you can walk up under?!

A short hike along the scenic Perrine Coulee Falls Trail provides an up-close encounter with this hidden marvel, which is easily enjoyed by hikers of all ages. To reach the falls, you will take the road that leads towards Centennial Waterfront Park. Perrine Coulee runs year-round, which is why you can see this beauty in any season. Visiting the Falls is a quick and fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. 

Walking under Perrine Coulee Falls in Southern Idaho

Balanced Rock and Balanced Rock Park

Balanced Rock and Balanced Rock Park are a bit out of the way from Twin Falls in Southern Idaho, but still worth the trip.

Located within the City of Rocks National Reserve, this iconic geological formation is a colossal, gravity-defying boulder precariously balanced atop a slender pedestal of rock. As you stand in awe of the rock, you’ll be immersed in a surreal, otherworldly landscape where enormous granite monoliths and rugged spires rise from the high desert terrain.

To reach the top of Balanced Rock requires a short hike up a steep hill. If you have younger kids (4-5) and they are used to hiking, this hill should not be a problem to access for you. To reach the mushroom-shaped rock, walk along the grassy path vs the rocky one. As you get higher, it can get a little slippery along the rocky path, so use caution when trying to reach the top.

The opportunity to witness Balanced Rock’s mysterious equilibrium is a true testament to the awesome forces of nature (seriously, how did this even happen?). Across the street at Balanced Rock Park, you will find a small creek, a couple of swings, picnic tables to enjoy lunch, and a grass field to enjoy during your adventure. 

Balanced Rock In Southern Idaho

Shoshone Falls 

The iconic Shoshone Falls in Southern Idaho is another absolute must-see! Often referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” this remarkable awe-inspiring waterfall, with its thundering cascade of water, stands as one of the largest in the United States, even rivaling its eastern counterpart, Niagara Falls, in terms of height.

The grandeur of Shoshone Falls is complemented by its serene surroundings, providing an ideal setting for families to explore the wonders of nature. With well-maintained viewing areas and gentle hiking trails, children can safely discover the beauty of the falls, observe the diverse birdlife that inhabits the area, and gain an appreciation for the geological forces that shaped this breathtaking landscape. 

During the spring time they have an annual event called Shoshone Falls After Dark, which runs from the end of April through early May and is about 20-30 min long. Filled with music and flashy lights, this event lets the waterfall come alive at night and is a true crowd-pleaser! Because it’s a light show and won’t start until it gets dark, it may be better suited for older kids. In order to attend this event, you must purchase your tickets ahead of time.

Shoshone Falls in Southern Idaho

City of Rocks

City of Rocks is another hidden gem in Southern Idaho. It’s a geological masterpiece with a surreal landscape where massive granite monoliths, spires, and balancing rocks rise from the high desert terrain, creating an outdoor wonderland for explorers, rock climbers, and nature enthusiasts. The views are incredible; there are a number of hikes to explore and many rocks the kids can climb. This is also a popular place to watch professional climbers. If you enjoy camping, you can also camp in this park.

Coming from Twin Falls, you want to be sure to take the route that leads you to the visitor center, so you can grab a map and have the rangers share unique facts about the park. 

If you get a chance to add this gem to your itinerary and get hungry, definitely stop by the Lunchroom! The Lunchroom was once an old school that the owners have now turned into a lunch spot for the town and passersby. It’s such a unique place, and their story is so beautiful.  

City of Rocks in Southern Idaho

City of Rocks in Southern Idaho

Lemon Falls 

Lemon Falls is another beautiful waterfall in Southern Idaho. This lesser-known gem, tucked away within the heart of the region, is a picturesque waterfall nestled amidst lush, green surroundings. These falls are part of Thousand Springs State Park. You will reach them by taking the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway and then a short hike to the falls. When the weather is nice, you can swim and even kayak in the springs that the waterfall runs into.

Lemon Falls in Southern Idaho

Indoor adventures in Southern Idaho 

Gemstone Climbing Center 

Want to switch it up and do an indoor activity? Head over to Gemstone Climbing Center. It’s perfect for beginners and pros alike. They have a number of climbing walls, a kid wall with a slide, and even a section to belay (you must be certified to do this). The climbing center is perfect for rainy days or even those days where you want to take a break from all the outdoor adventure and stay in town. If your child is under 7 years old, they are FREE with the purchase of an adult pass. This is a plus if you have younger kids! 

Southern Idaho Adventure - Indoor rock climbing

Southern Idaho Adventure - Indoor rock climbing

Other active indoor options

If climbing isn’t your thing, there are other indoor activities in Twin Falls, such as axe throwing and indoor golf! Elevation Trampoline Park offers a variety of trampoline-based activities, including dodgeball, foam pits, and basketball dunk zones. The Idaho Falls Recreation Center has an indoor swimming pool that’s great for kids. Pinz is a popular bowling alley in Idaho Falls where kids can enjoy some friendly competition. During the winter months, Joe Marmo/Wayne Lehto Ice Arena is a great place for kids to learn or practice ice skating. Some rinks offer skate rental services. Also, there are some great museums, such as the Idaho Potato Museum and the Museum of Idaho, with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that can keep kids engaged and moving.

Exploring the Idaho Falls area with kids

In the Idaho Falls area, the possibilities for outdoor adventures with kids seem endless. From the majestic Shoshone Falls to the enchanting City of Rocks, the region beckons families to discover the natural wonders that make Idaho a true gem. A trip to this area will not only create cherished memories but also instill in children a deep respect for the environment and a sense of wonder that can last a lifetime.

These adventures don’t even scratch the surface, but I hope they’re a great starting point for you to plan your trip to Southern Idaho. The area promises a journey of exploration, adventure, and endless bonding amidst the breathtaking beauty of Southern Idaho. Whatever you choose to do on your trip to Southern Idaho, there is something for everyone. 

Are you ready to plan your next trip to Southern Idaho?

About the author

India is an outdoor adventure enthusiast, blogger, and travel photographer. She is also a single mom to two young boys (ages 6  & 4). India and her boys currently live in Atlanta, Georgia, where she grew up, and are always out exploring, whether that be camping, hiking, backpacking, and so much more. She loves taking road trips and traveling with her boys to new places at a moment’s notice and is grateful to be able to share this love of adventure with her kids.

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