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  • Family fun on a water trampoline in Bear Lake State Park, Idaho
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    From Bear Lake to Montpelier: Water Adventures Meet History

  • Kids playing in the Soda Springs Geyser in Idaho
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    Bubbling Geysers and Oregon Trail History in Soda Springs

  • River cutting through the Swan Valley in Idaho
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    Breathtaking Views and Adventures in Swan Valley and Teton Valley

  • Off-roading on the St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho
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    Experience the Wonders of Yellowstone Teton Territory

  • Traditional dancers at the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival in Idaho
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    Blackfoot’s Unique Culture and Scenic Backcountry

  • Cyclist on the City Creek Bike Trails overlooking Pocatello, Idaho
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    Urban Outdoor Adventures in Pocatello

  • Tubing down the Portneuf River in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
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    Unwind at the Mystifying Lava Hot Springs

  • Family-friendly camping in a tipi at Downata Hot Springs in Idaho
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    History, Recreation and More in Downey and Preston

Scenic overlook in Massacre Rocks State Park in American Falls, Idaho
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Idaho Road Trip: Off the Beaten Path to Yellowstone

By Jason Macumber

  • Route distance:
    1,218 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Outdoor recreation, scenic wonders and cultural gems await when you choose the Idaho route to and from Yellowstone National Park.

Marvel at the stunning “Caribbean of the Rockies” at Bear Lake, tour historic Soda Springs where Oregon Trail pioneers traveled or spend the afternoon fly-fishing on the Snake River. From stunning natural landscapes to towns filled with history, experience a breathtaking route through eastern Idaho into two national parks before looping back to enjoy more of Idaho’s unique attractions.

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Family fun on a water trampoline in Bear Lake State Park, Idaho
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From Bear Lake to Montpelier: Water Adventures Meet History

After landing at Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah, you’ll head north to Bear Lake. Stretching for 30 kilometers across the Utah border into southern Idaho, Bear Lake is known for its breathtaking turquoise-blue water, earning it the nickname “The Caribbean of the Rockies.” Spend the day paddle boarding, cast a line for some fish or enjoy an exciting excursion on a personal watercraft. Travelers seeking the best sand to soak up the sun on should head to North Beach, while East Beach is a hidden gem thanks to its close-by camping spots. During the summer, don’t miss out on the Raspberry Days Festival which features concerts, games and mouthwatering raspberry treats during the third week of July.

Once you’ve experienced the wonders of Bear Lake, hit the road north to historic Montpelier. Stop by the National Oregon/California Trail Center for a simulated wagon adventure headed west. A live cast of pioneer reenactors will guide you through the stories of those who traveled across the USA, bringing the tales of their journey to life. After the tour, stop by the Pegleg Smith’s Trading Post gift shop for souvenirs such as Western-themed books, jewelry and delicious handmade jams.

307 km
3.5 hours by car
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Kids playing in the Soda Springs Geyser in Idaho
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Bubbling Geysers and Oregon Trail History in Soda Springs

From Montpelier, the adventure continues in Soda Springs, a historic town where Oregon Trail pioneers discovered naturally carbonated springs and learned how to make soda pop out of the bubbly soda water. Sample some refreshing fizzy water at Hooper Springs Park and snap photos at Geyser Park, the only captive geyser in the world. The geyser erupts every hour on the hour and shoots water up to heights of around 21 meters. Golf enthusiasts should plan an afternoon at the Oregon Trail Country Club where you can tee off in style on the nine-hole golf course where you can still see depressions from pioneer wagons and handcarts that passed through. In Thomas Corrigan Park, see the historic Dinkey Engine No. 1, a miniature locomotive that played an important role in the history of Caribou County, transporting supplies to and from the Alexander Reservoir. Train enthusiasts should also check out President Theodore Roosevelt’s stagecoach. After you’ve explored Soda Springs, the scenic valleys and hillsides of Swan Valley await to the north.

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159 km
2 hours by car
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