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Gateway Towns

6 Amazing Places on the Other Side of the Tetons

Whether you like motorized recreation or exploring via your own two feet, there’s an adventure for everyone on the Tetons’ western and - if you ask a local - better side. Here are can’t-miss stops from Idaho Falls to Ririe on the way to Yellowstone.

Idaho Falls

Japanese Garden on the Greenbelt Trail in Idaho Falls
Japanese Garden on the Greenbelt Trail in Idaho Falls Photo: by Josh Myers courtesy of Yellowstone Teton Territory

Why Stop? Stroll the Greenbelt along the Snake River, which is home to shops, breweries, a weekend farmer’s market and even a Japanese garden.

Local Tip: The event of the summer is the Mountain Brewers Fest, the biggest craft beer festival in the area, Aug. 28, 2021.

Learn more: 4 Idaho Falls Secrets to a Fantastic Yellowstone Area Vacation

Island Park

UTVing near Island Park
UTVing near Island Park Photo: by Josh Myers courtesy of Yellowstone Teton Territory

Why Stop? In the winter, it’s a snowmobilers paradise, but come summer, it shouldn’t be missed by ATV enthusiasts and novices alike. Head to the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and explore hundreds of miles of Forest Service roads, including the 10-mile Big Springs Loop leading to Big Springs, the headwaters of the Snake River. Vehicles can be rented at High Mountain Adventures in Island Park. Since this area sees a lot of winter snow, motorized trails open a bit later in the season. June through October are the best times to visit for ATVing.  

Or, take a winter tour with High Mountain Adventures to see Mesa Falls, which is only accessible by snowmobile in the winter. The knowledgeable guides at High Mountain Adventures are true ambassadors of the sport. Tip: Sound like a local and use the right vocabulary. The sport is known as “sledding” in this part of the country and when you head into the ungroomed backcountry, you’re “boondocking.”

Local Tip: After a day of adventure, stop in at Connie’s Restaurant & Saloon at 4130 Quakie Lane for Idaho’s best fried green beans.

Learn more: 5 Things to Do in Island Park

Teton Valley

Scenic chairlift at Grand Targhee Resort
Scenic chairlift at Grand Targhee Resort Photo: Courtesy Grand Targhee Resort

Why Stop? The world-class Grand Targhee Resort is just as beautiful in the summer as it is in winter. Ride the chairlift up and mountain bike or hike down.

Local Tip: For a picture-worthy hike, hit the Darby Canyon Wind Cave Trail, 5.4 miles roundtrip culminating in a gorgeous cave with a waterfall.

Learn more: Grand Targhee Resort on the West Side of the Tetons

St. Anthony

UTVing on the St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho
UTVing on the St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho Photo: by Josh Myers courtesy of Yellowstone Teton Territory

Why Stop? At more than 10,000 acres of stunning white sand, St. Anthony Sand Dunes are famous for their wild beauty. With two separate areas, you can rent a motorized vehicle if you’re interested in thrills or a sand board if you prefer quiet. Rent a side by side from PMS Dune & Snow Rentals for a thrilling afternoon or keep your eyes peeled for elk as you explore on foot. Eastern Idaho is full of amazing off-road opportunities. Download Yellowstone Teton Territory’s Off-Road Guide for trail information at www.yellowstoneteton.org/travel-guides.

Local Tip: Don’t miss Yellowstone Bear World in nearby Rexburg.

Swan Valley

Paddleboarding at Fall Creek Falls in Idaho
Paddleboarding at Fall Creek Falls in Idaho Photo: by Josh Myers courtesy of Yellowstone Teton Territory

Why Stop? One of the best summer activities on this side of the Tetons is paddleboarding. For a more advanced float, head to the Snake River outside of Swan Valley and float down the river to Fall Creek Falls. Or, head to Henry’s Fork outside of St. Anthony where you will likely spot moose. Beginners will enjoy Palisades Reservoir south of Swan Valley. Bring your own paddleboard, or rent in Island Park. 

Famous square ice cream at Rainy Creek
Famous square ice cream at Rainy Creek Photo: by Josh Myers courtesy of Yellowstone Teton Territory

Local Tip: At the end of a long day on the river, Rainy Creek Store is the place to stop. The store’s square ice cream, with a malt ball in the bottom of the cone, has lines forming out the doors.

Ririe

Heise Hot Springs in Idaho west of Yellowstone
Heise Hot Springs Photo: by Josh Myers courtesy of Yellowstone Teton Territory

Why Stop? This family-oriented town is a perfect visit in summer or winter. Heise Hot Springs is the perfect place to basecamp your stay in eastern Idaho. Stay at the springs’ campground and enjoy both soaking pools and a pool with slides. Make sure to get a slice at Heise Pizza and play a round of putt-putt as well. There’s even ziplining on site.

Another Ririe favorite is 7N Ranch. Stay in cabins or the campground and take advantage of the mountain bike course in the summer to get you warmed up for area trails or the tubing hill in the winter.

Local Tip: On Friday and Saturday evenings, head to the Mountain River Ranch’s dinner theatre for a truly western evening starting with a shootout and a horse drawn wagon ride and ending with a barbeque dinner and show. An unforgettable experience.

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Learn more about Yellowstone Teton Territory at yellowstoneteton.org.