20 Trips for 2020

Safer, shorter items for your summer bucket list

Published online: Jul 09, 2020 Articles, Road Trips Emily FitzPatrick
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Some of the best road trips are the ones you can take in a day. They are not only less expensive thanks to the shedding of hotel and gas costs, but they also create a greater appreciation for the areas that surround our community. Start from Idaho Falls and head to any of these bucket list worthy destinations.

Henry’s Fork Lodge, ID

The famous tributary of the Snake River joins the South Fork less than 45 minutes north of Idaho Falls. The upper Snake River isn’t the only body of water Henry’s Fork Lodge sits near. It’s also just a stone’s throw from other famous trout streams, including the Madison, Yellowstone, Firehole, Gibbon, Gallatin and many others rivers. The waters create a fly fisher’s paradise. It is also the perfect spot for hiking, biking and canoeing. 

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Food: Stop for food in St. Anthony or Rexburg

Twin Falls, ID

From Shoshone Falls to Perrine Bridge and a straight shot north to Sawtooth National Forest – you will be amazed by the many wonders that Twin Falls has to offer. The 2-hour trip is worth it simply for a visit to Shoshone Falls.

Travel Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Food: Jarritos Mexican Restaurant, Buffalo Cafe and Idaho Joes



Bear Lake, ID

Camping at Bear Lake is a must for every Idahoan. However, there are a host of things to do that many have never tried such as taking a lake/river cruise or going on a guided horseback ride. Next time your family gathers consider trying out a new adventure.

Travel Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Food: AHO’s Espresso Deli, Campfire Grill at Conestoga Ranch and Bear Lake Market Pizza Store

Hamer, ID

In all likelihood you might not have heard of Hamer, but the city is one of our closest neighbors. The city has a population of less than 50 people and is home to the Camas Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to a variety of migratory birds, so you’ll want to pack your camera and a pair of binoculars. Swing over to Rexburg on your way back to town for a bite to eat.

Travel Time: 30 minutes

Food: Stop in Rexburg for food at Big Jud’s, Gringos or Fresco Kitchen & Grill

St. Anthony, ID

Plan a day to play at St. Anthony Sand Dunes. It is a haven for off-road enthusiasts and a place of wonder for nature enthusiasts. Vehicles are available for rent, for those visiting the area. If you have kids you might want to bring a sled to carry atop the mountains of sand.

Travel Time: 40 minutes

Food: El Jaliciense, Big J’s Burgers & Pizza and Mad Moose Pizza



Picabo, ID

Picabo is a full 2-hour drive away, but it is well-worth it even if just to visit the Silver Creek Preserve. Popular activities at the preserve include bird watching and fly fishing. The clear water of the streams will take your breath away and the scenery provides the perfect spot to spend a night camping.

Travel Time: 2 hours

Food: Drive out to Carey for food at Castle’s Corner or 93 Express

Bannack, Montana

Bannack is a ghost town. No, not figuratively. It is literally an abandoned town in Montana. The town was founded in 1862 and operated as a gold mine. The population dwindled in the ’70s, but gold seekers can still pan for gold and camp in the state park.

Travel Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Food: Stop in Dillon for food at The Branding Iron or Papa T’s

Island Park, ID

Whether it is winter or summertime, there is plenty to do in and around Island Park. Local attractions include the largest volcanic caldera, Big Springs, Coffee Pot Rapids, Harriman State Park, Earthquake Lake “Quake Lake,” Island Park Reservoir, Old Union Pacific RailRoad, Yellowstone National Park and much more. You’ll want to consider spending the night in the area so that you can spend as much time as possible taking in all of the sites.

Travel Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Food: Boondocks Restaurant, Lodgepole Grill and Pond's Lodge

Ashton, ID

Ashton is the gateway community to one of the most well-known attractions in eastern Idaho: Mesa Falls. The beautiful aquatic attraction sits on the pathway to Yellowstone, but you don’t have to be heading to the national park to take a hike along several pathways or drive along the scenic byway. 

Travel Time: 50 minutes

Food: Five 11 Main Fountain & Pizzeria, El Rincon or Trails Inn Restaurant

West Yellowstone, MT

Yellowstone attracts visitors from around the world. As residents of Idaho Falls, citizens have a unique level of accessibility to the national park. The scenery is consistently shifting and different animals are frequently deciding to make an appearance by the roadside. 

Travel Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Food: Las Palmitas, Firehole Bar-B-Que and Running Bear Pancake House

Salt Lake City, UT

A trip to the big city is needed just as much as trips to nature. Whether you need to go shopping or want to participate in a wide range of activities, from attending Broadway shows to walking through museums. 

Travel Time: 3 hours

Food: Red Iguana, Valter’s Osteria and Takashi

Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Jackson Hole is an oasis from the steady traffic that accompanies visits to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. A slew of events are always occurring at the Mountain resort, providing new activities to participate in with every visit. Skiing, however, is an absolute necessity during the winter months.

Travel Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Food: Pinky G’s Pizzeria, Bin22, The Kitchen and much more

Fort Hall, ID

Are you feeling lucky? If so, it’s time for a trip down to the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel. Dine, splay and stay at the casino and hotel for a good time. Over 900 games will keep you busy for hours, but you’ll want to pull yourself away from the machines to attend the various concerts the hotel hosts. Previous performers include Sara Evans and George Lopez.

Travel Time: 40 minutes

Food: Painted Horse Buffet, Camas Sports Grill

Pocatello, ID

Pocatello might not seem like a road trip destination, but there is plenty to do in our neighboring city, including taking the kids on a visit to The Museum of Clean or going on a hike at Hell’s Half Acre. Before you know it you’ll have spent the entire

day exploring. 

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Food: Taste of India & Nepal, Thai Kitchen Restaurant and El Herradero 



American Falls, ID

Have you always wanted to pay a visit to the Oregon Trail? Visiting American Falls will provide you with the perfect opportunity to do so. Access is available below the dam where there is boat ramp access. This spot along the trail is perfect for boating, fishing and camping.

Travel Time: 1 hour

Food: Tres Hermanos, La Esperanza Panaderia Y & Restaurant and The Ranch

Swan Valley, ID

When you say Swan Valley, we say square ice cream. This city is the home of our favorite sweet treat. If you haven’t made the stop by Rainey Creek Country Store for this Idahoan delicacy then you are missing out. Take a scenic drive and satisfy your sweet tooth.

Travel Time: 46 minutes

Food: Snake River Roadhouse, Angus Restaurant and Rainey Creek Country Store

Victor, ID

The largest town in Teton County is still small and cozy. The city is nestled close to the national parks, but still provides plenty of its own opportunities for hiking, biking and fishing. Golfing and skiing are also popular local activities.

Travel Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Food: The Brakeman American Grill, Butter Cafe and Big Hole BBQ

Driggs, ID

Top things to do in this small city include paying a visit to the Grand Teton Distillery, Spud Drive In and the Teton Geotourism Center. The city is a great place to stop on your way to Jackson Hole.

Travel Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Food: Forage Bistro and Lounge, Three Peaks Dinner Table and Teton Thai

Ogden, UT

We all pass through Ogden on our way to Salt Lake City, but how many times have you stopped to check out what this city has to offer? Consider planning to attend a show at Peery's Egyptian Theater or buffing up your history knowledge at the Hill Aerospace Museum. 

Travel Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Food: Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria, Pie and Fry and Hearth on 25th

Arco, ID

In Idaho Falls, we all know Arco as the site for INL, but how many of us have taken the time to visit Craters of the Moon? The national monument offers caves, odd rock formations, visitor center and much more to explore. Don’t forget to also tour Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 (EBR-1) and see a nuclear reactor for yourself. 

Travel Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Food: Pickle’s Place, Golden West Cafe and Deli Sandwich Shop  


Click here to read more of Idaho Falls Magazine's May issue. 

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