With Rocky Mountain summits billowing into the atmosphere, miles of dusty, dirt roads leading to parts of the Oregon Trail and rolling, burnished rivers, the natural beauty of Idaho will leave student travel groups wanting more.
Elk and Wolves, and Bears, Oh My!
Bagley’s Teton Mountain Ranch
Reserve a day at Bagley’s Teton Mountain Ranch in Victor and gaze at Idaho’s exotic wildlife or go horseback riding through the Big Holes, Palisades or Teton Crest. In operation since the late 1800s, the ranch offers tours where students have the chance to observe elk, buffalo and bulls in their natural habitat with stunning backdrops of Idaho’s most beautiful mountain ranges. Country cabins are available for overnight stays and are just 30 minutes away from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for an easily manageable cross-state student group trip.
Wolf Education and Research Center
The Wolf Education and Research Center (WERC) in Winchester is a perfect destination for a one-of-a-kind educational experience for student group travelers. WERC is a leading, non-profit organization specializing in education on the subject of captive wolf care. Tours are given by world class biologist Jeremy Heft, who cared exclusively for the Sawtooth Pack: Wolves of the Nez Perce. Students that visit can take the “Owyhee Pack” tour and learn about wolf history, threats they face and the ecological benefits they provide or stroll through the “Wolf Camp Trail” and explore the area where the Owyhee pack lives.
Yellowstone Bear World
Experience Idaho’s fauna like never before at Yellowstone Bear World in Rexburg, a drive-thru wildlife park. Tours offer students the chance to get up-close and personal with Rocky Mountain elk, bison, white-tailed deer, mule deer, Rocky Mountain goats, moose, American black bears, grizzly bears and gray wolves. Three times a day, students can even accompany the bears’ keepers as they bottle feed the baby cubs.
Adrenaline Junkie Hot Spots
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Managed by the United States Forest Service, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) in western Idaho is filled with adventure for those adrenaline-seeking students. This 650,000-acre recreation area is home to the deepest river gorge in North America, and consequently offers some of the most exhilarating whitewater rafting and jet boating in the nation. Artifacts from prehistoric tribes and rustic remains of early miners and settlers provide students with a historical learning experience. Student groups can also camp at the edge of Black Lake or enjoy a bird’s eye view of Hells Canyon by taking the short hike up to Heaven’s Gate National Recreation Trail.
The Salmon River, also known as “The River of No Return”, is arguably Idaho’s best location for whitewater rafting. Mountain River Outfitters in Riggins offers student groups half-day to five-day rafting trips, highlighting some of the most popular rapids of the Salmon River: Time Zone, Tight Squeeze, Black Rock, Ladder and more. Fun river games, an interpretive historical site and breaks for swimming and relaxing are included in the tours.
Yellowstone National Park
A trip to Idaho wouldn’t be complete without visiting Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park. Although located primarily in Wyoming, there are still areas of the park that stretch to Idaho, making it a remarkable location for student travel groups. Students can experience the rare chance at witnessing wildlife unfold before their eyes or marvel at the world’s largest super-volcano and learn about its hot springs, mud pots and geysers.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Something sure to never be found anywhere else, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in central Idaho offers a unique educational experience to student group travelers. A vast ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush, this unusual natural landscape is unlike any other. Craters of the Moon formed between eight major eruptive periods from 15,000 to 2,000 years ago. The history and explanation behind this geological phenomenon serve as excellent science lesson opportunities for students.
Museum of Clean
The Museum of Clean in Pocatello was established by Don Aslett, an Idaho native who turned his understanding of cleaning into a 75,000-square-foot interactive museum. Students can tour the museum and gander at military helmets soldiers used for washing, bathing, cooking and shaving or a collection of over 1,000 vacuums dating from 1869 to 1969.
Basque Museum and Cultural Center
The Basque Museum and Cultural Center in Boise is a unique museum devoted to Basque culture and history. Because of Boise and other surrounding areas’ prevalent Basque communities, the museum was established in 1985 in order to provide a look into the groups’ heritage. Bursting with educational opportunities, the museum offers students geography and culture lessons where students have to be able to list examples of Basque cultural influence on the Idaho community and locate and label Spain and France on a map of Europe. Language arts lessons require students to locate the seven Basque Provinces and take notes about Basque Country.
By Ally Mahoney