Island Park- The Staging Ground You Might Not Leave
by Kevin Hughes
on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 9:00am.
It’s early. The sun hasn't quite started peaking over the mountains to the east. Fish are splashing in the creek, and the birds have started singing and dipping over the water to eat the bugs. You smile, relaxed in the comfortable chair on the deck of your cabin. The warmth from the cup of coffee you’re sipping on throws steam into the morning air. As the sun peaks over the horizon, it paints the scene with light. Beautiful evergreens, grass swaying in the breeze, and rivers and creeks burst into existence as the sun officially rises. Breakfast is cooking in the kitchen, and as the wildlife and nature really start to wake up, you remember your plans for the day. You were going to go to Yellowstone National Park.
Island Park might be right off of Highway 20, but it’s still a wilderness. Roads lead away from the bustling highway, carrying tourists and travelers heading on to Yellowstone, or back. Just off the highway, tucked in the trees and by the rivers and creeks, are cabins and lodges. These are beautiful resorts for that quick weekend getaway, or the perfect staging ground for experiencing all that Eastern Idaho has to offer. Whether you are just trying to get away from it all, or explore the beauty of the outdoors that only Idaho can offer, Island Park has it all.
Without leaving the town, there are plenty of fishing opportunities, hiking, biking, horseback riding, four wheeling (or in the winter, snowmobiling), and even fine dining and theater options. There are plenty of shops where you can rent the equipment (or horses) that you might need for the day, or you can stay in, and enjoy dining at places like Trouthunter or Pond’s Lodge. Feel like experiencing a bit of Broadway in Idaho? Visit Mack’s Inn Playhouse, right in Island Park. Or, if you feel like a bit of a drive, you can head to the Playmill Theater in West Yellowstone. If a movie on the silver screen is more your style, you can check out the movie theaters in West Yellowstone. However, for a truly unforgettable experience, you need to go to the Yellowstone IMAX Theater, where you can view the entire history of the park, all from the comfort the indoors.
Of course, if you do make it to West Yellowstone, visiting Yellowstone National Park is right in the town’s backyard. If you've never been, the park is a must. Even if you've visited the park before, it’s always a joy to go back and visit. From the amazing scenery, and variety, there’s always something to do. Go to the geyser basins, or check out Mammoth Hot Springs. Take a trip to Yellowstone Lake. Anywhere you go in the park, you won’t be disappointed. If you are more interested in the wildlife, like bear, moose, elk, or wolves, you can always visit Yellowstone Bear World near Rexburg, Idaho on Highway 20. This is a drive-thru wildlife park, where you can see the animals up close and personal. So even if you don’t catch that elusive bear in Yellowstone, you can definitely see one at Bear World.
Island Park has a lot to offer. It’s in a prime location for being a phenomenal base of operations for anything that could you want to do in Eastern Idaho. It also has a unique history of its own, and it boasts the “longest Main Street in America” (IslandParkIdaho.com). This is because Island Park’s Main Street is Highway 20, and the town is over 36 miles long! However, it’s a very narrow town. It ranges in width from 500 feet to 5000 feet. Island Park is crammed full of opportunity, though.
You don’t even have to take any crazy roads or routes to get to Island Park, either. You can follow state highways and interstates the entire way. Of course, there are plenty of choices if you prefer a more scenic route. There are several scenic byways near Island Park, and the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway takes you through Ashton, Idaho and right into Island Park. That’s one awesome thing about living in Idaho. You don’t have to travel far to experience the great outdoors or to explore the beautiful and varied nature that Idaho has. More often then not, it’s right in your backyard.