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Eastern Idaho's Yellowstone Teton Territory
A Weekend in Island Park
If you’re looking for adventure, Island Park is the place to find it. Visit in winter for snowmobiling and other outdoor activities, or plan a summer visit to hike, camp, and ride ATVs to your heart’s content. Island Park is bear country, so be sure to be bear aware and take all recommended bear safety precautions.
On the drive to Island Park, make a stop in Ashton to explore the fun finds in this small town. Grab some coffee at Shoppe on Main and shop the handcrafted artisan collection, including jewelry, art, and other treasures.
If your schedule coincides with one of Island Park or Ashton’s beloved annual events, be sure to stop on by. The Wild West WinterFest is an annual Island Park tradition. Each January, the town comes alive with this celebrated event featuring vintage sleds, sleigh rides, snow sculptures, and fireworks. In February, be sure to check out the American Dog Derby in Ashton. The historic race was first held in 1917, and teams still race today in a variety of events. The Buffalo Run Antiques & Collectibles show is a fun summer tradition with over 40 vendors showcasing their crafts, antiques, quilts, jewelry, and more.
Island Park is known for its hundreds of miles of trails for ATVs, snowmobiles, and other trail users, so spend today out exploring the trails of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Consider hiring a guide or outfitter if you’d like an expert to show you around. Hundreds of miles of trails are open to ATVs, including a number of great loop options, but be aware the area receives a lot of snow in the winter, so it often takes a while for it to melt enough to open up many of the routes. June through October is often the best time for riding, but be sure to check the weather and conditions before heading out. Some popular trails include Red Rock Road—which has good fishing opportunities—BPA Access Trail, and Big Springs Loop.
In winter, approximately 500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails entice people to come from all around. Some popular routes include those near Two Top Mountain, Targhee Pass, Big Springs, Red Rock Pass, Flagg Ranch, Mesa Falls, Warm River Springs, and Henry’s Lake. The area averages over 220 inches of snow each year and boasts elevations up to 9,000 feet, so be sure to check conditions (including avalanche conditions) and be prepared when heading out. Always be aware of avalanche dangers and take appropriate precautions. Big Springs is a 10-mile family-friendly loop, Two Top is for intermediate-expert riders and features deep snow, and Black Canyon has options for all levels and typically has a long season since the snow collects early and lasts late into the spring.
After a great day out exploring, get ready for some evening fun. The Lakeside Lodge and Resort hosts a variety of parties and events, from Halloween costume parties to Fourth of July celebrations and Christmas festivities, along with plenty of live music, so be sure to see what’s happening when you’re in town.
During the summer months, the Yellowstone Playhouse offers fun, family-friendly dinner theater shows. Or head up to Meadow Vue Ranch for a rodeo and dinner show on Wednesdays and Saturdays from late June to mid-August. The ranch puts on an hour-long rodeo, followed by a tasty Dutch oven supper, along with cowboy songs and even a little dancing.
Start your day by fishing at Henry’s Lake State Park, a popular fishing spot with record-breaking trophy trout. Then head out to Harriman State Park which is located in a 16,000-acre wildlife refuge, so keep your eyes peeled for a wide variety of animals. Popular summer activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fishing. Winter fun includes cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and more. Be sure to bring binoculars to watch for trumpeter swans and other birds.
In spring, summer, or fall, take a drive along the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway to soak up the scenery. Make sure to stop and enjoy both Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, which are stunning. A short nature path by the visitor center offers more opportunities to explore, and the area is a hot spot for birds. Be sure to check opening and closing dates as this route is closed in the winter.