9 Undiscovered Southern Idaho Gems near Yellowstone
Explore breathtaking national monument, spectacular waterfalls and holey rock formations west of Yellowstone
After Yellowstone, dip into southern Idaho to explore attractions, including two national park sites, you won’t find elsewhere.
1. Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Why go: Formed by eight major volcanic eruptions from 15,000 to 2,000 years ago, this otherworldly landscape in Arco, Idaho, makes you feel as though you landed on another planet.
Tip: If you only have 30 minutes, drive the seven-mile scenic loop. For a two-hour hike, park at the Spatter Cones parking lot and walk to Big Craters.
2. Thousand Springs Scenic Byway
This scenic drive takes you through the stunning Snake River Canyon, past Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, historic towns, hot springs, stunning blue water and waterfalls. Don’t miss the Thousand Springs Visitor Center in Hagerman where you can see fossils.
Tip: Stop at Cloverleaf Creamery in Buhl, Idaho, for homemade ice cream. Bill Stoltzfus’ dairy products can be found in Whole Foods and a number of restaurants in Boise.
3. Shoshone Falls
Why go: Pronounced “Show shone” (the latter rhymes with phone), these falls on the edge of Twin Falls, Idaho, are higher than Niagara Falls, stretching 212 feet high, and sit along the Snake River. Take a dip in one of the hidden lakes in the canyon or picnic in the park.
Tip: Before you go, fuel up on breakfast or lunch at the Twin Falls Sandwich Co. in town, which has been named “best fish sandwich” by USA Today.
4. Perrine Bridge
Why go: This 486-foot-high bridge in Twin Falls spans the Snake River Canyon and is a popular spot for BASE jumpers to leap off and parachute down. Watch them from the pedestrian walkways.
Tip: Twin Falls Visitor Center is on the south side of the bridge. To the east, you’ll find interpretive signs and the dirt ramp Evel Knievel used when he tried to jump over the canyon in his steam-powered skycycle in September 1974. He crashed because his parachute malfunctioned but walked away with only a broken nose.
5. Lake Walcott State Park
Why go: Cool off at Lake Walcott, home to nesting white pelicans. You can rent a kayak on-site and explore the 17-mile lake.
Tip: This state park has 30 tent spots and 22 RV spots.
6. City of Rocks National Reserve
Why go: Drive or hike around this internationally known rock climbing destination in Almo, Idaho, and watch climbers ascend the area’s granite rocks. History buffs can dig into the history of the California Trail where more than 52,000 people passed through here en route to California in 1852.
Tip: After the reserve, head to the Rock City Grill, which has the area’s largest selection of beers and locally famous pizza.
7. Banbury and Miracle Hot Springs
Why go: These two hot springs spots in Buhl, Idaho, offer an amazing break from the road. Banbury features a large pool with deep-end swimming and a diving board. Miracle Hot Springs has four outdoor pools.
Tip: Both locations offer tented and RV camping. Miracle Hot Springs offers glamping in geo domes while Banbury Hot Springs has cabins.
8. City of Rocks Scenic Backcountry Byway
Why go: This 3-4 hour loop circles around the Albion Mountain range, taking you through City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park.
Tip: In Almo, stop at the Tracy General Store, constructed in 1894 and one of the oldest continually operating mercantiles in the country.
9. Rupert Square
Why go: Once a place where townspeople gathered around the town’s first well beginning in 1905, historic Rupert Square offers a renovated gathering spot surrounded by retail shops, restaurants and a historic theater.
Tip: Head to Henry’s at the Drift Inn on the square for its finger steaks, which are strips of steak hand-battered with a secret batter recipe.
For more information:
Twin Falls Visitor Center
2015 Neilsen Point Place