Fall Frights And Halloween Fun In Idaho - My Family Travels

Shhh… even fans of “Twilight” may not realize how to find Halloween fun in Idaho. Did you know Idaho is the 14th largest state by land mass but has only 21.6 residents per square mile? With so many miles of deserted woods, lakes and mountain passes, who knows what lurks behind every evergreen.

Exterior of the Haunted Mansions of Albion, an abandoned school complex turned Halloween nightmare. photo c. Visit Idaho.
This broken down, abandoned school complex has become the Halloween nightmare known as Haunted Mansions of Albion. photo c. Visit Idaho.

Ready to devote 825 miles of interstate agony to a Halloween road trip adventure? Our route skirts several dark and uninhabitable national forests from Boise south, then east, to Ketchum and north to Coeur d’Alene.

We searched beyond the lumberjacks, fly fishers and sheep to find twisted souls and hipsters who created some of the Northwest’s top haunts. We guarantee this scenic state comes to life for spooky autumn thrills… even if the snow has started falling.

Drive it if you dare. Or, just select a fun outing that won’t terrorize the backseat.

Ghost Hunters in Boise, Idaho

The Old Idaho Penitentiary lit for Halloween dominates the night in Boise, Idaho. Photo c. Visit Idaho.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary lit for Halloween dominates the night in Boise, Idaho. Photo c. Visit Idaho.

Are you flying in to find Halloween fun in Idaho? Paranormal aficionados, especially those who have never served time, will get a kick out of Boise’s Old Idaho Penitentiary. The Old Pen was a functional prison from 1872 to 1973. It housed some of the West’s most notorious criminals in its heyday. You can still hear those inmates complaining.

The prison is now a museum so while it’s daylight, go explore the cells, solitary confinement, gallows, and other areas. Look for October cemetery tours and night tours with extra fright factors. The Old Pen is reputed to be haunted by the spirits of former inmates and guards. Oct. 21, 2023 is the once monthly Paranormal Investigation series. Here, professional ghosthunters attempt to connect with the past and present, here and gone. Check out the weird equipment they use to communicate with long-ago prisoners and guards.

They are also competing with Airbnb! Yup, book ahead to survive your own cell in their brand-new “Sleepless in Stripes” program. This is a simulated Halloween prison experience for ages 18 and up (we did not conjure it.) Too bad you can’t teach teens a lesson with this one.

We say, in deference to Halloween spirits and fear-mongering gods, do your time.

Top Haunted House for Halloween Fun in Idaho

Alien and clown mix it up at the Haunted Mansions of Albion in Idaho. Photo c. Visit Idaho.
Alien and clown mix it up at the Haunted Mansions of Albion, a favorite place for adult Halloween fun in Idaho. Photo c. Visit Idaho.

Others claim the Haunted Mansions of Albion are as scary as it gets. Hmm. Find out in a 2.5-hour’s drive from Boise at the century-old Albion State Normal School. We don’t think there’s anything normal about an abandoned college campus full of crusty derelict buildings. Come autumn, however, the “students” return.

Except these students are out of Central Casting and have been trained to avoid “Me Too” charges. They molest, hound and terrify guests without any hands-on interaction.

Navigate flights of stairs, tunnels, corridors and large and small classrooms. Locals caution that visitors hear strange voices and feel unexplained chills. Did you encounter a dark-haired woman roaming the hallways?

So what is there to learn here except fear? You must book advance tickets and entry time. Tweens and teens are welcome but you may not want them to associate school with this experience.

As a light-hearted alternative, book an Idaho Falls Ghost Tour through downtown. Guides promise to reveal secrets about the town’s early settlers, ghosts, murders, brothels and more.

Small Thrills Big Skies for Halloween Fun in Idaho

Gleaming stars in the night sky over Craters of the Moon Monument in Idaho, an official Dark Sky Park. Photo c. NPS
Gleaming stars in the night sky over Craters of the Moon Monument in Idaho, an official Dark Sky Park. Photo c. NPS

Road trip north and explore the universe this Halloween season. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is an official Dark Sky Park. Join ranger-led programs in fall and spring guided by volunteer astronomers from Idaho Falls Astronomical Society. Use their telescopes and sky viewing expertise to introduce all ages to the heavens. (In summer, hike out with Craters of the Moon rangers on full moon treks and discover connections between the park’s unusual geography and that of the moon.)

In nearby Idaho Falls, the small Idaho Fall Zoo is hosting three days of a Boo at the Zoo Festival for trick or treaters in costume. They also devote a few October nights to Zoo Lights where families can tour the animal habitats under decorative lighting and enjoy a night out, without the Halloween treats.

Alternatively, drive West to bed down in the mountain town of Ketchum. It’s home to the legendary Sun Valley ski resort. Just look out the window. By day there is great leaf-peeping. At night, Ketchum residents respect Dark Sky protocols to keep stars visible all year. In fall, follow the herd to the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, baaa-ing from Oct. 4-8, 2023 in Ketchum and nearby Hailey. All ages will love the annual festival which culminates in a sheep parade down the main street.

Visit Idaho has several other ideas of where to find and experience the darkest skies in the state.

Scarywood Asks: Is Halloween Fun in Idaho?

Terrified guests encounters monsters at Scarywood, the Halloween event at Silverwood theme park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Photo c. Silverwood.
Guests can lose their minds in the face of monsters at Scarywood, the Halloween fun at Silverwood theme park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Photo c. Silverwood.

In autumn, teens and the bold at heart relish the eerie screams at the transformed Silverwood amusement park. Scarywood takes over the Pacific Northwest’s largest theme park from late September to just before Halloween each fall. You may think the regular Silverwood is just hiding behind the veils of the popular golf and fishing resort Coeur d’Alene.

Think again. Scarywood has been honored as one of Travel Channel’s “Halloween’s Scariest Thrills.”

Stroll with roaming monsters. Experience four haunted attractions, 10 scare zones and the craziest coasters and rides in pitch darkness. The makeup (or is it real?) and costuming are amazing.

Trip Planning Details for an Idaho Halloween

Check out our Halloeen Fun in Idaho Road Trip at this link: https://goo.gl/maps/DR22hhqhxptgt6Ry8

Before driving hours to get to Scarywood, book tickets ahead – online only — for Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights Sept. 28-Oct. 28, 2023. Children ages 12 and under are warned to stay away, but the decision to expose them to terror is all yours.

Convinced you need to make this Halloween road trip?  Dress warmly!

The state promises big and little frights to make Halloween fun in Idaho a family getaway to remember. Of course, Idaho is not alone.

For more haunted house options, visit our Haunted House and Halloween Weekend Breaks Directory.

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