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Idaho Falls, Rigby, Rexburg - Idaho

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 What to See & Do: in Idaho Falls | in Rigby
in Rexburg | Where to Stay

Eastern Idaho provides an impressive gateway to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. The region around Idaho Falls is a prime farming area, supplied with irrigation water from the Snake River and creeks that flow through the Snake River Valley. The city of Idaho Falls is set on flatlands just west of the Caribou Mountains. A half hour's drive west are the Grand Tetons and you'll find the western side of this range to be more gentle in appearance than the wall-like eastern side in the park.

The three main communities in the region are Idaho Falls (the largest), Rigby (the smallest), and Rexburg -- to the north beside the Teton River. U.S. 20 is the main route northeast to West Yellowstone and the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. If you're driving through the area to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, take U.S. 26 from Idaho Falls, or State Highway 33 from Rexburg. Both routes lead eventually to Teton Pass (via State Highway 33).

What to See & Do

Idaho Falls

This city was founded in the 1860s as Eagle Rock In 1991 the name was changed to Idaho Falls. Like other towns in the area, many of the early settlers were Mormons, and today, the LDS Temple in Idaho Falls is a prominent landmark. The city has many historic buildings, most of them built from 1894. with many built in the early 1900s. The Underwood Hotel and I.O.O.F. Lodge building are good examples of Romanesque Revival architecture. Another fine example is the Willard Arts Center, originally the Colonial Theater -- built in 1919. The Bonneville Museum building was completed in 1916 as a Carnegie Library.

An impressive park, The Greenbelt, is found along the Snake River, between Broadway West and the Highway 20 bridge. A two-way walk along the Greenbelt park takes about 40 minutes. Other parks are located along the Snake River, and the Gem Lake Marina is located on the river at the southwest corner of town. In addition to the river, several reservoirs in the area provide outdoor recreation. Ririe Reservoir is found east of the city via U.S. 26.

You'll find three 18-hole public golf courses in Idaho Falls. Saga Lakes Golf Course is the city's newest -- a links style layout on East River Road. Pinecrest Municipal Golf Course is the oldest, dating from 1936. It's located at 701 Elva. Sand Creek Municipal Golf Course (Hitt Road - southeast of town) is a 20-year old course with numerous lakes. There's a separate junior course here.

Rigby

A smaller community, located just 20 miles north of Idaho Falls, Rigby was settled by Mormons, who developed Jefferson County as a flourishing agricultural district. Some 2.5 million acres of irrigated land are farmed here, and the county is often called the "bread basket of Idaho." A major claim to fame is its status as the hometown of Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the concept of the modern television tube, developed when he was a 11th grade high school student in Rigby.

Rigby is the seat of Jefferson County. The county fair is held in August. Not far from town is Heise Hot Springs. This resort is at Ririe, east via Highway 26. With several pools including a hot pool with mineral water at 105 degrees, and a warm swimming pool, RV park and campground, water slide, golfing (9 holes), and the original log hotel, this is a popular year-round attraction. Jefferson County Lake is open for camping and swimming from April 1st to October 1st. For information, call (208) 745-7756.

The Jefferson County Historical Museum includes displays devoted to the inventions of Philo Farnsworth, as well as exhibits on local history. The museum is at 118 West 1st South, and is easily recognized for its unusual tower.

Rexburg

In the 1870s, pioneers came into Eastern Idaho -- mostly prospectors and miners and then railroad workers. This was also a Mormon settlement. A prominent Mormon leader was Thomas E Ricks, founder of the town and Ricks College. While like the other communities in the area, Rexburg is an agricultural town, the Teton Dam tragedy of June 5, 1976 still dominates the community. Having been just completed, the dam northeast of Rexburg began leaking, and the dam quickly gave way, sending 80 billion gallons of water down the Teton River and into the Snake River. Rexburg was devastated by the wall of water. Ricks College -- on a height of land -- was spared.

The Teton Flood Museum, at 51 North Center Street, provides an excellent display of photos and flood artifacts, including a model of the dam, personal property that survived the flood (including a bathtub and musical instruments), plus other displays on pioneer life in Rexburg. For information on the museum and open hours, call (208) 356-9101. The Teton Dam Site is a few miles east of town. What is left of the dam can be seen by taking a marked sideroad off State Highway 33. While the site is accessible, it is no longer maintained.

Porter Park Carousel: Rexburg is home to one of the few historic carousels left in the country. Built in 1926, and restored in 1985, it boasts a brand new band organ. The carousel is found at 250 West 2nd South. Admission is 50 cents.

Rexburg hosts the annual Idaho International Folk Dance Festival, held in early August. Many teams come from around the world to dance -- in Rexburg and neighboring communities. In addition to paid events, free events in Rexburg include a street dance, parade, and a community picnic and band concert. For information and tickets, call (208) 356-5700.

Rexburg has two golf courses. The Municipal Course, with nine holes, is on South Airport Road. The Teton Lakes course (18 holes) is at 12 North Center. For information, call the Municipal Course at (208) 359-3037, and Teton Lakes at (208) 359-3036.

Families will like the three public parks in Rexburg. Porter Park is at 2nd West and 2nd South. You'll find the carousel here, plus a swimming pool and water slide. Smith Park is on the corner of 3rd east and Main Street. Community Park is located at Park Street and 5th West.

Scenic Drives

If you like masses of shifting sand, or have a motor bike or ATV, head to the Sand Dunes located 15 minutes north of Rexburg. The sand has blown over to this location from around Mud Lake -- southeast of here. There was once a an inland ocean, which dried up, leaving the sand to blow in the winds. The dunes are popular with snowmobilers during winter months.

Northeast of Rexburg are several prime recreation areas -- on the way to West Yellowstone. Grand Targhee is a well known ski and summer resort on the flank of the Tetons, at Alta Wyoming. The Targhee National Forest offers a range of recreation. Island Park Reservoir is a favorite fishing lake. The Island Park area has many miles of cross-country and snowmobile trails. This is an area of great beauty, formed by an ancient caldera. Harriman State Park is the heart of the Island Park area.

Harriman Ranch, in Island Park, is a working cattle ranch which offers trail rides on saddle horses. Rides from 90 minutes to a full day are available. For information, call (2087) 558-7077.

Along the Mesa Falls Scenic Parkway (State Route 47) lies Mesa Falls, on Henry's Fork of the Snake River. The water drop 65 feet into a gorge. Camping is available and the trout fishing is renowned. In winter, the falls are accessible by snowmobile or cross-country skis.


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