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Your guide to Island Park
All About Island Park
Island Park is a cherished vestibule of Yellowstone National Park, with its scenic evergreens and array of crystal-clear streams, springs, ponds, and lakes. Island Park’s businesses tend to line US Route 20, including its charming eateries and shops, as well as two theatres hosting local productions. At an elevation of 6,293 feet, the city is Idaho’s highest, and many of its parks and natural areas are defined by its setting in Henry’s Fork Caldera, a hollow comprising the western part of the Greater Yellowstone’s Island Park Caldera, one of the largest calderas in the world.
Harriman State Park offers a window into the unique ecosystem of the area with its range of hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding trails. There’s no shortage of opportunities for wildlife sightings in the area, as many of the city’s nearby parks — including Henrys Lake State Park and Big Springs — are teeming with elk, moose, bears, and native birds like the Sandhill Crane and Trumpeter Swan.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Island Park?
The summer, especially July and August, is the most popular time for visitors. Many of the area’s outdoor activities — wildlife viewing, hiking, swimming, river rafting, horseback riding, camping, canoeing, and more — are best experienced in the summer. Due to its high elevation, the region still experiences relatively low temperatures in the summer, so it’s important to be prepared with warm clothing year-round. The area sees a lot of snowfall between November and April — nearly 200 inches per year — so there’s still plenty going on for visitors looking to hit the slopes, hop on a snowmobile, or hit the trails on snowshoes. Winter also offers a schedule of unique events in Island Park, including Wild West WinterFest, which features a snowmobile parade and fireworks show.
What are the top things to do in Island Park?
Look out on views of the Centennial Valley and Yellowstone from the 9,875-foot summit of Sawtell Peak. Hiking has its merits, but driving up the 12-mile gravel road of this mountain gives your feet a rest and saves your breath, as the commanding vista is sure to take it away.
Upper Mesa Falls
Take a 15-minute drive off Route 20 south along the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway and see one of Idaho’s most impressive waterfalls, Upper Mesa Falls. Set in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, the 114-foot waterfall is an accessible, family-friendly attraction with its obliging nature trails, visitor center, and lookout point.
Harriman State Park
This 16,000-acre park and wildlife refuge is one of the area’s most popular spots for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Some 22 miles of trails weave through protected evergreen forest featuring rivers, streams, and meadows, as well as the array of wildlife that roam the park, which includes the Trumpeter Swan, the world’s largest species of waterfowl. During the winter, the park offers skiing and snowshoeing trails.