Morning first light on Boise Skyline in spring, Idaho
Charles Knowles/

Road Trip from Bend, Oregon to Boise, Idaho

Updated by Dianne Titos on May 27 2023

This amazing trip from Bend to Boise travels through a real mix of beautiful forests and lakes, interesting historical sights and plenty of places for outdoor pursuits or relaxation. Although it is short in length it is packed with incredible places to stop at and explore along the way.

Make the 350-mile trip in 8 hours from Bend, Oregon, to Boise, Idaho, and see Crater National Park, Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Falls, Fremont and Ochoco National Forest, Sheldon Antelope Refuge, Powell Butte, Caldwell and John Day.

These distinct routes are packed with jaw-dropping landscapes and interest points that will deliver a journey with lots to enjoy along the way. Read on to see where we suggest stopping off and exploring during this scenic road trip.

How far is Boise from Bend, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between Bend and Boise
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Scenic Lakes Route590 miles11 hours
The National Forests Route350 miles8 hours

The compact journey from Bend, Oregon, to Boise, Idaho, taking the Scenic Lakes Route takes around 11 hours to travel the 590 miles.

Heading along the alternative National Forests Route is a shorter more direct option, covering 350 miles in around 8 hours.

However, either route you take is relatively short if you head there directly, and with so much to see we recommend taking 2-3 days to travel this journey given there is so much to enjoy. Keep reading to see where we suggest exactly to make those stops en route.

Fly fishing on the South Fork of the Boise River, Idaho
You will be spoilt for choice with city sights and outdoor pursuits when you arrive in the pretty and interesting capital of Boise.

Best road trip route from Bend, Oregon to Boise, Idaho

Heading along this road trip from Bend, Oregon, to Boise, Idaho, and you can be sure to encounter beautiful forests and lakes, along with historical sights and museums to learn more about the area you are traveling through.

Head along the Scenic Lakes Route, and beautiful scenery, wildlife refuges and epic views await you. Although a relatively short route, you are inundated with glorious sights whilst you travel.

If you decide to take the slightly shorter National Forests Route then you can expect beautiful forests, historical sights and plenty of outdoor pursuits to thrill, with great places to stop to hike, tour and unwind.

How to drive from Bend, Oregon to Boise, Idaho

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Bend, Oregon to Boise, Idaho. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

The Scenic Lakes Route

After leaving Bend, Oregon, head along US-97, where you can stop to enjoy a hike to Paulina Peak summit, before arriving at Crater Lake National Park. A trip along Rim Drive takes in many amazing views.

Continue along US-97 towards Klamath Falls, where you can canoe Klamath Upper Lake and take in the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Stay the night to really make the most of it.

Afterwards jump onto the OR-140 where beautiful stop-offs at Fremont National Forest and Sheldon National Antelope Refuge can be enjoyed.

The US-95 then leads you past Jordan Valley where you can enjoy watching the songbirds and swifts, before reaching your destination Boise, Idaho.

Wide view of the shallow freshwater Upper Klamath Lake east of Cascade Range in south-central Oregon, USA
Take to the water to cross the beautiful, expansive waters of Klamath Upper Lake.
Gurcharan Singh/

The National Forests Route

Take the National Forest Route and you start out along the OR-126 east and then US-26, for some initial rest and relaxation at The Brasada Ranch before hiking a trail or two at the impressive Ochoco National Forest.

Continue along US-26 past interesting historical sites John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Kam Wah Chung State Heritage and Prairie City, plus Stone House Museum in Willowcreek.

Arriving in Ontario spend a day or two taking in the sites including Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum and kayak along Snake River. Both are sure to be memorable experiences.

From here follow the I-84 where you can enjoy wine tasting in Caldwell, before a wander around Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. Shortly after here, you'll arrive in the pretty capital Boise.

Colorful painted formations at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Marvel at the beautiful painted rock formations at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
Zack Frank/

Best places to stop between Bend, Oregon and Boise, Idaho

The journey from Bend, Oregon, to Boise, Idaho, is exciting and scenic, with so many beautiful forests, waterways, wildlife refuges and historical sites to stop off at and explore.

Whilst this is a short trip, we recommend making the most of it with a stopover so keep reading to see where we suggest spending a little more time at.

Wildlife spot at Klamath Falls

Take the Scenic Lakes Route and around a third of the way you will arrive at Klamath Falls, envied for jaw-dropping landscapes, dotted with mountains, waterways and lush forests.

Head north of Klamath Falls and you'll find the amazing Upper Klamath Lake spanning 30 miles. Very popular as a place for fishing and wildlife spotting and ideal for an afternoon of outdoor fun.

For a historical stop add Klamath County Museum to the agenda. This city center museum reveals much about the area, with Baldwin Hotel Museum and Fort Klamath Museum also offering interesting insight into the area.

The beautiful Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Klamath Falls is ideal for a night's stay, set in a fantastic location overlooking Lake Ewauna and close to many great sites including Klamath Commons and Fountain Field.

Sunrise over a duck and goose filled wetland at Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon
Head out early to Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge and the flocks of birds dotted across the landscape are mesmerizing.
Tom Reichner/

The modern décor and relaxing lounges are ideal for sitting back with a drink after a busy day exploring, and make sure to take advantage of the indoor pool where you can chill out on the loungers after taking a dip.

The state-of-art fitness center or optional free bikes are both great to keep you on the move, before heading out for a stroll in the evening to dine at one of the local restaurants.

Enjoy a cultural stop-off in Ontario, Oregon

Located around an hour before you arrive in Boise, Idaho, Ontario sits on the Snake River and Idaho border and is a great stop off is known for its desert beauty, cultural and natural landmarks.

A must-visit is Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum. This fantastic interactive museum details contributions of American Indian, Japanese, Mexican and European cultures, with beautiful Japanese Gardens to enjoy.

Make sure to also visit Snake River, reaching over a thousand miles long. You can enjoy outdoor pursuits along this vast river such as kayaking or taking to one of the many trails that give you panoramic views of this area.

Extend your visit with a night or two at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel Ontario. This modern hotel is super to head back to after a busy day exploring and driving, where you can visit the pool and wellness center to unwind.

Kayaking on the Snake River in Twin Falls Idaho
Kayak across Snake River for an unforgettable experience exploring the area.
Alisha Bube/

After a great night's sleep, enjoy a top American breakfast buffet which is included in your stay, where you can enjoy a very tasty start to the day.

Set in a great location just off Interstate-84, it is super easy to jump on and off to continue exploring, and close to several top sites including Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum.

Where to stay when you reach Boise

Boise, the capital of Idaho, is an exceptionally beautiful place to visit, known as the ‘City of Trees' due to its lush surroundings dotted with interesting places to visit and explore.

A great place to head after a busy day checking out the sites is Modern Hotel. Living up to its name, this is part hotel and part art installation at first glance, full of interesting and modern quirks.

The stylish hotel is brimming with modern luxuries including decadent bedrooms and gorgeous lounge areas, plus a beautiful open terrace where you can enjoy cocktail hour snuggled next to the stone fire pits.

Make sure to head to the on-site restaurant for breakfast, where the quality American buffet is stacked with treats ahead of your next adventure.

Things to see on a road trip from Bend, Oregon to Boise, Idaho

This may be a fairly short road trip from Bend, Oregon to Boise, Idaho, however there is so much to see on the way, with a mixture of beautiful forests, lakes, historical sights and plenty of places for outdoor pursuits and relaxation.

Keep reading to look through the best places we suggest stopping off along the way to Boise, Idaho.

On The Scenic Lakes Route

  1. Paulina Peak - You can hike this peak which is originated from past volcano eruptions. You'll pass pretty Paulina Lake en route as you travel around 6 miles to the summit.
  2. Crater Lake National Park - This is one of the most incredible lakes in the world. Head here outside of winter and you can take the Rim Drive to see many of the glorious viewpoints.
  3. Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge - Founded in 1958, this marshland is teeming with waterfowl and wildlife, and you can canoe during the warmer weather to get amazing views of the area.
  4. Klamath Falls - If you head just North of Klamath Falls the impressive Upper Klamath Falls greets you. Hire out a canoe to travel Upper Klamath Lake.
  5. Fremont National Forest - If you love a hike then this is the place to head, with over two million acres set for exploring.
  6. Sheldon National Antelope Refuge - Free to visit, this site was founded to support the American pronghorn, or ‘Antelope'. Visit here to learn more about the conservation work and spot great wildlife and flora.
  7. Jordan Valley - Bird watching fans make sure to head to Leslie Gulch based in Jordan Valley. The rock formations here are dotted with everything from songbirds to swifts, with Rocky Mountain Elk aplenty.
Views across the woodlands and expansive Crater Lake, Oregon
Jaw-dropping views can be enjoyed when you arrive at the beautiful Crater Lake National Park.

On The National Forests Route

  1. Powell Butte - If you fancy a chance to wind down, then Powell Butte is packed with options. The Brasada Ranch has stunning mountain views where you can relax in the resort, swim and enjoy the spa, or visit Brasada Trails for horse-riding or Brasada for golf.
  2. Ochoco National Forest - Found in the Ochoco Mountains, this forest is packed with canyons and high rocks to explore. If you head along the Steins Pillar Trail, you are guaranteed some special scenic sights.
  3. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument - Stop by Dayville and you'll experience the beautiful colorful delights of this monument. Make sure to visit the Painted Cove during your stopover.
  4. Kam Wah Chung State Heritage - This interesting museum found at John Day is revealing about the history of the area and how the area became so important to Oregon's Chinese community.
  5. Prairie City - Near John Day River valley, this area is particularly pretty, and you can enjoy an afternoon spent wandering the historic downtown.
  6. Stone House Museum-Historical Museum detailing the history of Willowcreek and surrounding past industrial area.
  7. Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum - Based on Ontario, this museum gives an insight into the contributions of different cultures: American Indian, Japanese, Mexican and European.
  8. Snake River - Over a thousand miles long, you can enjoy outdoor pursuits along this vast river, such as kayaking or canoeing, where you can enjoy a great experience and views.
  9. Caldwell - Packed with wineries, make sure to stop off and enjoy some delicious wine tasting.
  10. Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge - A short distance from Moss you'll find this sanctuary which is perfect for a wander and wind down. Keep an eye out for the impressive Western Grebe when bird watching.
A panoramic view of the lush woodlands of Ochoco National Forest and Stein's Pillar
Stop off to hike across the Ochoco National Forest, with the Steins Pillar Trail the perfect place to enjoy unrivalled scenic sights.

Best time to go on a road trip from Bend, Oregon to Boise, Idaho

When you arrive in Boise, Idaho, you are spoilt with amazing scenery and recreation regardless of the season you decide to visit. The summers can be very hot, whilst the winters snowy, so just make sure to pack accordingly for the distinct seasons that Boise, Idaho, enjoys.

In summer you can be sure of hot and sunny weather, and outdoor recreation such as hiking, riding or whitewater rafting, can all be enjoyed. However, temperatures can reach up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more, so visiting outside of peak summer, when it is also busier, is recommended.

Winter is typically cold and snowy, and this is great for many of the ski fans. Temperatures can fall to around 25 degrees Fahrenheit, so pack plenty of layers. It's perfect for those though seeking the snow!

Spring and fall are great times to visit, when the weather is good for outdoor recreation, but the accommodation costs are not at a premium. Temperatures in April-May or Sep-October are 60-80 degrees, so great for exploring to see the beautiful flora and changing.

Boise is blessed with dozens of fabulous events, meaning that whichever time of year you visit, there'll be something that you can plan around.

View of colorful hot air ballons floating above the Boise Train Depot
Boise provides the perfect backdrop as you rise into the sky on a memorable hot air balloon trip.
Charles Knowles/

In spring there are several musical events like The Gene Harris Jazz Festival, where talented musicians travel every year to take part. Treefort Music Fest also takes place, alongside films, comedy and food and drink on display.

Late summer Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic hot-air balloon riding is at Ann Morrison Park, and a colorful masterpiece. In September the three-day Art in the Park festival has 250 artists featured, a real impressive display of talent.

Towards the end of the year the holiday festivals begin, with the Wintry Market festival in November launching the Christmas feels, with crafts and arts to buy as decorations for the season's festivities.