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
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.
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
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.
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
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