Cascade, ID: 5 Unbelievable Hidden Gems for Family Travel

Most kayaking families have heard of Cascade, ID. It’s a rural town, with not much going on, but the greatest whitewater park in the West. No lie. At Kelly’s whitewater park, the water is warm, the features are superb. The entire place is so family friendly, every time we visit, there are countless families spending a week vacationing there.  It’s like the beach, except no sand. The grounds are spotless, complete with a volleyball court, bocce ball and horseshoes. The Cascade Rec Center has a pool and a gym!

Kelly's Whitewater Park fun for families.
Dan and Maddy team surfing on the middle feature at Kelly’s Whitewater Park.

As a full time traveling family, we are always on the lookout for hidden gems, places that aren’t hot spots for tourists. We have been fortunate enough to find many of these places over the past 6 years. Cascade, ID is one of these special places.

With zero night life, not much in the way of shopping, and a movie theater with random hours, Cascade, ID is not your typical Spring Break destination. What it is, is a water lovers outdoor mecca.  If you are looking for a fun place to take the kids, an alternative to a beach vacation … Cascade, ID is the place.

Table of Contents

Kelly’s Whitewater Park

Kelly's Whitewater Park is a top reason to visit Cascade, ID
Luke Henthorn surfing with Coby Kellogg on his back.

The main reason for hitting up Cascade, ID, for us is the amazing Kelly’s Whitewater Park. With world class wave/hole feature at the top, and smaller, mellower features below, Kelly’s is perfect for everyone from world champion whitewater kayakers to tubes and boogie boards and surfboards.

It’s such a fun place, people legit come from all over and hang out for their week long family vacation. Kelly’s has the most beautiful and pristine grounds, a visitors center with bathrooms and WiFi, water spickets on the grass, volleyball, bocce ball and horseshoes. People camp out right in the parking lot and we had a blast playing impromptu games of soccer on the green grass.

The summer days are long in Cascade, ID. There are nights where you can kayak until nearly 11 pm!

One note: Bring bug spray for use at night!

Cascade Lake

Cascade Lake in Cascade, ID is fun for everyone!
Beauty, serenity and adventure at Cascade Lake!

Not exactly a place we explored extensively, but I know from visiting and talking to people I’ve met that Cascade Lake, in Cascade, ID is epic!

It is absolutely perfect for all types of boating and, the winds on the water make it the ideal place for sailing and windsurfing … something we would all love to try.

If you are interested in fishing, Rainbow trout, Coho salmon, small mouth bass and perch can be caught from either the shore or by boat in the summer, or through the ice in the winter!

Camping is available here as well as easily accessible snowmobiling and hiking trails, cross country skiing and mountain biking trails.

Rafting & Kayaking Epic Rivers

sfbridge sfkady

There are a plethora of rivers to run in a kayak or a raft in an around Cascade.

We’ve rafted the Cabarton with friends and that is a pretty easy float, fun for all — Coby was 1 and he came with us.

We’ve also paddled the South Fork of the Payette and the Main, and just this past July (2018) Brody, Kenny and Dally got their first descent of the North Fork of the Payette, something they’ve had on their bucket list for years, but we haven’t made it up to Cascade in years! They were stoked!

Ashley Inn

P1120435 P1120438 P1120456 P1120461

And any trip to Cascade, ID demands a stay at the Ashley Inn.  We love RV’ing as most of you love your homes, but even we love to pamper ourselves every now and then with a stay at a nice hotel. And the Ashley Inn is an incredibly posh place to kick your feet up, enjoy a romp in the 24 hour indoor pool, gourge on a delicious complimentary breakfast, soak in the large bathtub, enjoy some much needed shut-eye on the super comfy beds with white sheets (I am well known for having a weird fetish for white bedding), and you cannot, you absolutely cannot forget, the fresh homemade cookies served at 8 pm each evening!!  Seriously!

Fourth of July Parade  P1120522 P1120530 P1120532

And each year we are lucky enough to be in Cascade for the July 4th holiday!!  And Cascade does Independence Day really REALLY well!!  The parade is enormous with people lining the small town streets, coming from as far away as Boise to participate and/or enjoy.   The Cascade Republican Party hands out free ice cream for everyone and the fireworks are epic, although you have to wait until close to 11 pm because it doesn’t get dark until then in July!!

Check out the video from our visit in 2014 …

11 thoughts on “Cascade, ID: 5 Unbelievable Hidden Gems for Family Travel”

  1. This is a fantastic travel blog! You should do a ton more. I would love to know where you and your family enjoy going as finding spots for our kids who are 8 and 15 is incredibly hard. Such different levels of maturity, you know? REally love this type of thing.

  2. Great photo’s and video, I noticed Maddy seems to be doing so well now, I am amazed at how far she has come along in kayaking, well done Maddy 🙂
    Not sure which of the two young ones was in the kayak there with Kady, maybe it was both Emmy and Elly, but they both looked so cute and enjoying themselves, guess it wont be long before they are both fully into kayaking.
    I love watching your video’s and seeing those beautiful countryside’s you visit, they are breath taking, and that hotel looked very very expensive, but you all deserved it.
    I really look forward to your video’s, so thanks you so much for posting them for us all to see, you have an amazing family.

    Happy Road Tripping 🙂

  3. This is a phenomenal travel blog! You ought to do a ton more. I would love to know where you and your family delight in going as discovering spots for our children who are 8 and 15 is unfathomably hard. Such distinctive levels of development, you know? Truly adore this sort of thing.


  4. I think you should document and write about every place your family visits. We have 4 children and they are all 3 years apart. Our oldest and our youngest are polar opposites. I would love to find vacation spots that are fun for our oldest son and fun for our youngest daughter, not to mention my wife and myself. I’m a little tired of the beach vacation, KWIM?

  5. What a beautiful spot, the only vacation we are confident that everyone will have fun is Disney or the beach. Good to see different options from a family whose opinion I trust! You should do a lot more!

  6. Wow, I live in Idaho Falls and didn’t even know about Cascade! You can bet I’ll be paying a visit to this unknown gem in the coming weeks. I bet the locals will hate you, Idahoans like to keep our state a secret because it’s so great!

  7. Very nice spot you found here. I wonder how pricey it is to stay in the campgrounds? It looks very expensive. I hate that everything boils down to money, but that’s our reality!


Leave a Comment