Salmon, Idaho is a small town in the mountains of central Idaho, making it an off the beaten path paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. It is known as one of the best places to fish in the United States, provides beautiful and scenic views, offers a variety of outdoor activities, and has some of the best hot springs. And with a population of about 3,000 people, there’s a great mountain town vibe. Having spent several months living and working here, I’m bringing you the ultimate travel guide to Salmon, Idaho.
Salmon, Idaho feels like it’s own world, which is probably because the small town is surrounded by wilderness. The closest major airports are about 3 hours away in Missoula or Butte, Montana and 5 hours away in Boise, Idaho. So you will need to rent a car or make it a road trip. But there are so many scenic views as you drive along the Salmon River or up to Lemhi Pass.
Where to Stay
Super 8 by Wyndham
We typically stay at the Super 8 by Wyndham. It’s affordable, conveniently located next to downtown, the staff is always very friendly, and has free wifi for every room. Some of their rooms are pet friendly and some aren’t, so if you’re traveling with a pet make sure you call or double check the rooms when you checkout online.
Stagecoach Inn Motel
Another great option is the Stagecoach Inn. It’s also conveniently located next to downtown Salmon, has a pet area, pool and hot tub, and free wifi for every room.
There are several great airbnb options in Salmon and the surrounding areas of Lemhi county for those who are traveling in larger groups or looking for more comforts of home.
There are also plenty of camping opportunities nearby, check out some of the campgrounds here.
Greyhouse Inn Bed & Breakfast
A historic landmark in Salmon River country, the Greyhouse Inn offers rentals and cabins on 7 acres. Located 11 miles south of Salmon on Highway 93, the scenic drive and relaxing setting makes this a perfect place to stay.
Salmon Gypsy Bed & Breakfast
For a unique stay, check out the Salmon Gypsy Bed & Breakfast gypsy wagons. This spot is conveniently located near the Goldbug Hot Springs!
Where to Eat
TIP: Please note that many restaurants (and stores) are closed on Sundays!
Great locals spot for breakfast, brunch, and lunch offering home style food and excellent customer service. This is a popular spot, especially on Sundays after church, so arrive early or be patient – the food is worth the wait!
Tip: Closed on Mondays!
This is probably our favorite place to eat in Salmon because of the delicious food and outgoing staff. The eclectic menu offers New American cuisine, including vegetarian and vegan friendly options. From our experience, Junkyard Bistro is the only restaurant open on Sunday.
Tip: The restaurant is small, so there can be a wait to be seated and get your food (especially on Sunday since I believe it is the only restaurant open) – so get there early and be patient!
A locally owned and operated restaurant 20 minutes south from downtown Salmon on Highway 93. It’s a beautiful drive down the Salmon River and a great spot to grab dinner or a drink after visiting the hot springs. The food is great, all the beef is grown locally, and the staff is very friendly.
A fun, family friendly environment to grab lunch or dinner with an arcade to entertain the kids (or adults). They have pizza, wings, fried chicken, a variety of salads, sandwiches and more.
Tip: Don’t go too late if you want fried chicken, they tend to turn the fryers off early!
Last Chance Pasta & Pizza
Another favorite dinner spot with great pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and more!
Buddy’s Family Diner
A quaint old style diner with fast, friendly service and great food. It is also part of a convenience store and gas station, which I think adds to the old school diner vibe.
What to Do
Being surrounded by wilderness areas, Salmon, Idaho offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities with scenic views and landscapes.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities available in and around Salmon. There are great day hikes as well as backpacking trails. If you plan on visiting or hiking in the winter, make sure to pack microspikes.
There are several great options for cross country skiing right in Salmon, including making your own trails on the city golf course! But if you’re looking for a resort, you can head up to Lost Trail Ski Area just across the border in Montana.
Soak in the Hot Springs
Salmon, Idaho is located near several great hot springs. My favorite is Goldbug Hot springs because of beautiful views overlooking the valley and the waterfalls (see my guide to visiting Goldbug here), but you can also check out Sharkeys Hot Springs, Horse Creek Hot Springs, Panther Creek Hot Springs, and Jerry Johnson Hot Springs (a little farther away across the border in Montana).
Raft/Float the River
Known as the River of No Return, the Salmon River has large, challenging rapids, a swift current, and breathtaking views of the mountains.
Another great opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts is fishing! Salmon is known as a world class fly fishing destination and fishing season is open almost all year round.
While it’s a small western town, you can easily spend a day exploring the shops and restaurants. There are great jewelry shops, custom western attire, and clothing stores.
Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, & Educational Center
Learn about the birthplace of Sacajawea, the history of Salmon, Idaho, and the Lewis and Clark adventure at the Sacajawea Center.