Things to Do in Challis, Idaho

Things to Do in Challis, Idaho
Things to Do in Challis, Idaho

Nestled in the heart of Idaho, Challis is a hidden gem that offers a plethora of unique experiences for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. If you’re wondering about the best things to do in Challis, Idaho, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we will unveil the treasures this picturesque town has to offer, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

Things to Do in Challis, Idaho

Exploring the Scenic Byways

Challis, Idaho, boasts some of the most breathtaking scenic byways in the country. Drive along the Salmon River Scenic Byway to witness stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. Don’t forget to have your camera ready to capture the beauty of the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Immerse Yourself in Outdoor Adventures

For the outdoor enthusiast, Challis is a paradise. Whether you’re into hiking, fishing, camping, or all of the above, the opportunities are endless. The Challis National Forest provides a pristine backdrop for these activities, and the nearby Salmon River is a renowned spot for world-class fishing.

Soak in Natural Hot Springs

Indulge in relaxation by visiting one of Challis’ natural hot springs. A dip in these therapeutic waters is the perfect way to unwind after a day of outdoor adventures. Popular spots include Goldbug Hot Springs and Challis Hot Springs.

Discover Native American History

Challis is rich in Native American history, and you can delve into it by visiting the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park. Explore the historic ghost town of Custer and gain insights into the region’s mining history and the Shoshone-Bannock tribes that once inhabited the area.

Go Wildlife Watching

Wildlife enthusiasts will be in awe of Challis’ diverse fauna. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, elk, and various bird species while hiking or driving through the Challis National Forest. Wildlife photography opportunities abound.

Stroll Through Quaint Downtown

Take a leisurely walk through downtown Challis and soak in the small-town charm. Discover local shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes where you can savor a cup of coffee while mingling with friendly locals.

Attend Festivals and Events

Challis hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. The annual Challis Western Days Rodeo and Parade is a must-see, offering a glimpse into the town’s rich Western heritage. Check the event calendar to plan your visit accordingly.

Enjoy Water Activities

If you’re a fan of water activities, Challis has you covered. Spend a day kayaking, rafting, or paddleboarding on the Salmon River. The pristine waters and picturesque surroundings make it an unforgettable experience.

Relish the Dark Skies

Challis is renowned for its dark skies, making it an ideal destination for stargazing. Set up your telescope or simply lay back and enjoy the mesmerizing display of stars, planets, and constellations.

Go Horseback Riding

Experience the rugged beauty of Challis on horseback. Numerous outfitters in the area offer guided horseback riding tours, allowing you to explore the backcountry and enjoy the tranquility of nature.

Visit the Challis Bison Refuge

The Challis Bison Refuge is a unique conservation area dedicated to preserving American bison. Take a guided tour to learn about these majestic creatures and their role in the ecosystem.

Explore Historic Mining Sites

Challis has a rich mining history, and you can explore remnants of the past at various historic mining sites. The Bayhorse Ghost Town and the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge are fascinating places to visit.

Relish the Local Cuisine

Savor the flavors of Challis by dining at local restaurants. Try the renowned Idaho potato dishes or indulge in fresh, locally sourced cuisine. Don’t forget to taste the huckleberry treats, a local delicacy.

Camping Under the Stars

Challis offers excellent camping opportunities for both RV and tent campers. Wake up to the crisp mountain air and the sound of nature as you camp under the starry Idaho skies.

Experience World-Class Fishing

Idaho is famous for its fishing, and Challis is no exception. The Salmon River is a prime spot for fishing, where you can reel in various trout species. Hire a local guide for an unforgettable angling experience.

Attend Live Music Performances

Challis has a vibrant arts scene, and you can often find live music performances at local venues. Check the schedule to catch a show and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Capture Mesmerizing Sunsets

Sunset in Challis is a sight to behold. Find a picturesque spot, and watch as the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors. It’s the perfect way to end a day of exploration.

Learn About Lewis and Clark

Follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark by exploring the Lewis and Clark Back Country Byway. This historic route takes you through rugged landscapes and provides a glimpse into the explorers’ journey.

Try Your Hand at Gold Panning

Embrace your inner prospector by trying your hand at gold panning in the Salmon River. You might just strike it lucky and discover a nugget to take home as a memento.

Relax by the River

One of the simplest yet most enjoyable activities in Challis is to find a serene spot by the Salmon River, have a picnic, or simply relax and listen to the soothing sounds of the flowing water.

Explore Natural Bridges

Challis is home to the scenic Natural Bridges, geological wonders carved by the Salmon River. Hike to these formations and marvel at the power of nature.

Visit the Land of the Yankee Fork Museum

Delve deeper into Challis’ history by visiting the Land of the Yankee Fork Museum. Explore exhibits showcasing the town’s mining heritage and the lives of its early settlers.

Attend the Challis Arts and Crafts Fair

If you’re a fan of arts and crafts, don’t miss the Challis Arts and Crafts Fair. It’s a great place to pick up unique souvenirs and handmade goods created by local artisans.

Go Bird Watching

Challis is a haven for bird watchers, with a wide variety of species to spot. Grab your binoculars and head to the Challis Bird Viewing Area for a peaceful birding experience.

Take a Scenic Drive

Hit the road and embark on a scenic drive through the Challis area. You’ll encounter picturesque vistas, mountain ranges, and pristine wilderness that will leave you in awe.


What is the best time to visit Challis, Idaho?

Challis is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit for outdoor activities is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is most favorable.

Are there accommodations in Challis?

Yes, Challis offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, motels, campgrounds, and vacation rentals, catering to various preferences and budgets.

How do I get to Challis, Idaho?

Challis is accessible by car, and the nearest major airport is in Idaho Falls, approximately a 2.5-hour drive away.

Is Challis suitable for families with children?

Absolutely! Challis has family-friendly activities, such as camping, wildlife watching, and educational experiences, making it an ideal destination for families.

Can I go hiking in Challis?

Yes, Challis offers numerous hiking trails for all levels of hikers. Be sure to check trail conditions and be prepared with proper gear.

What is the history of Challis, Idaho?

Challis has a rich history, primarily centered around mining and Native American heritage. Explore local museums and historic sites to learn more.


Challis, Idaho, is a true hidden gem, offering a wide range of activities and experiences for every type of traveler. From outdoor adventures to cultural explorations and everything in between, this charming town has it all. Plan your visit to Challis, and you’re sure to create lasting memories in this picturesque corner of Idaho.

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Trevor Harvi is an experienced digital marketer and writer with over a decade of experience in writing and marketing for startups. Trevor also runs his own business as a freelance editor and virtual assistant for other business owners.