Destinations Surrounding Idaho Falls
Living and enjoying all that there is to do and take part in within the city of Idaho Falls can make for a lifetime of experiences and memorable moments. Likewise, getting out of town for an extended day adventure may prove to be as rewarding with a diverse range of topography offered that delightfully encompasses the heart of this urban center. When venturing outside of Idaho Falls one may discover unexpected caves, various campgrounds, meandering trails, swift rivers, simmering hot springs, and delightful ski slopes. Explore wildlife preserves, astonishing sand dunes and a multitude of area destinations that are well suited for those who would like to head outdoors for the day. The season and time of year will likely be a consideration for most destinations, though there are countless year-round hotspots waiting to be discovered. Below are a few area destinations and area things to do that can make for excellent ½ day or even a full-day trip.
Destination: Hell's Half Acre - South Trails
Distance from Idaho Falls: 19 +/- miles
Best time of year to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall. All trails are closed in winter.
Features: Scenic Views, Interpretive Signs, Picnic Tables, All Skill Levels
On-Site Time Investment: Varies, ½ - 1 +/- Hours
The Hell’s Half Acre - South Trailhead is located just off I-15 at the North Blackfoot Southbound Rest Area exit and complex. A quick pit stop at the rest stop makes for a great start to the day’s adventure. Upon arrival at the trailhead, located at the northeast end of the rest stop, be sure to sign-in (small box with a sign-in sheet and pencils), then you may want to review the posted trail maps. There are various trails that you may enjoy choose from depending on how far you would like to go. The short trail runs about 0.75 miles in length and makes for a great quick trip with interpretive signage and information about the lava fields various aspects in composition. The longer trail requires more time and runs about a mile. This trail boasts a gazebo with a scenic overlook. There is also a 0.25-mile trail if you’re interested in a shorter trip. This pathway also boasts interpretive signage and is ADA accessible. Staying on the trail of choice find a mix of scenic views across the lava fields, as well as deep cracks and fissures that web across the terrain, as well as stunning desert plant life and possible sightings of area wildlife including rabbits, mule deer, fox, rattlesnakes, bobcats, and various others. Most of the area wildlife prefers to stay hidden though. The lava plains make for full exposure to the climate and weather conditions with little to no coverage.
Destination: St. Anthony Sand Dunes / Egin Lakes
City: St. Anthony
Distance from Idaho Falls: 41 +/- miles
Best time of year to visit: Mix of Seasonal / Year-Round (larger sections of the sand dunes are closed for the winter season for migration purposes).
Features: Scenic views, undeveloped trails, equestrian, OHV, wildlife viewing, and camping (seasonal - fees apply).
St. Anthony Sand Dunes is a fabulous destination ideal for outdoor enjoyment and venturing out to explore this extraordinary natural wonder located in Southeastern Idaho. There are a couple of access points at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes to choose from, though a small section is open for year-round enjoyment. If you’re considering this destination for winter activities, then the smaller dunes that lie east of the Egin Lakes area are open year-round (snow may be a factor depending on the time of year). The Egin Lakes Campground is another option in the warmer months, though keep in mind that this area includes fees. Featured in the movie Napoleon Dynamite, the sand dunes made a debut on the big screen and have been the focus of many off-road vehicle use videos. St. Anthony Sand Dunes has also been known to draw the attention of those who enjoying tubing, sandboarding, sand sledding, and even skiing. While some may enjoy digging beneath the warmth of the top surface layers of the sand to the cooler sand below, others take to the top of the hills to find themselves hopping, skipping, jumping, rolling, sliding or one of the many various entertaining and fun methods to get back down the sand slopes to square one.
Destination: Soda Springs Geyser & Park
Address: 39 W 1st S, Soda Springs, ID 83276
Distance from Idaho Falls: 110 +/- miles
Best time of year to visit: Year-Round
Features: Visitors Center, Local Area Park, ADA Accessible
On-Site Time Investment: ½ - 1+ hours, dependant on the time of arrival as the geyser erupts in 60 min. intervals.
Alternate Trip: Add Niter Ice Cave (15 +/- Miles)
The Soda Springs Geyser & Park is ideal for all age groups and makes for an excellent display as the geyser erupts and shoots 70+/- degree water around 100 feet straight up into the air. The geyser is surrounded by minerals and deposit buildup which appears to be more of a mass of yellowish-orangish slime (pungent odor) though is none the less incredibly fascinating. The geyser is the only one like it in the world, as it is capped off and the pressure is only allowed to release when a timer goes off. The wind, if any, may have an impact on the geyser waters causing them to spray into the parking lot. Subsequently, there is mention by the Center for Land Use, that the geyser will not activate as long as any winds are blowing westward strong enough to cause this to occur.
If you’re planning a trip to Soda Springs Geyser & Park you may also consider adding the Niter Ice Cave to the itinerary. The ice cave is located in Grace, Idaho (along Ice Cave Road) and runs about 15 +/- miles from this location and makes for a neat side attraction.