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The Best Day Trips from Pocatello, ID

These outdoor adventures are only a short drive away when you want a backyard getaway.

By Stephanie Inman on October 31, 2015

Pocatello residents don’t have to go far to find outdoor adventure, as the area has a variety of perfect daytrip destinations. Backyard vacations abound, including great spots for families, romantic getaways and outdoor sports perfect for individuals or groups.

The Great Outdoors

For fresh air and amazing scenery, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is within a couple of hours’ drive. The park’s 3 million acres have it all – mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and diverse, gorgeous wildlife. While people often make it a day trip, activities here easily fill an entire weekend with fun, from hiking to tubing to fishing.

There’s a reason people come from all across the country to hunt and fish in Idaho. Close to home, Pocatello residents have favorite spots like Edson Fichter Pond. Covering three acres, the pond features tons of rainbow trout that can weigh up to six pounds and be as long as 10 inches. The pond is stocked with about 200 yellow-phase banana trout as well. Other prime spots for turning big fish tales into reality are the nearby American Falls Reservoir and the Snake River.

For those looking for a curated hunting and fishing experience that mixes the best of outdoorsy hunting goodness with top-shelf service from one of Idaho’s best hunters, Ron Ens with Middle Fork Outfitters is the man to call. Ens and his wife, Karla, run one of the best hunting outfitter shops around, offering guided hunting and fishing trips in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, one of the most remote wilderness areas in the entire country.

And then there’s the mountain biking. Within a short drive are trails for days – the kind of mountain runs of which bikers’ dreams are made.

Avid biker Corey Wight, who runs social media for the Pocatello Trails Facebook group, says his favorite trail is the Sterling Justice trail.

“Our great community came together and made something that will be there for generations,” Wight says. “When I stand at the outlook and look around at our great landscape and down at the city that has given me so much, I can’t help but smile.”

Fun Family Outings

Lava Hot Springs, just 30 minutes from Pocatello, has all the activities a family could need for a memorable weekend, including tubing down the Portneuf River, ziplining, hiking, biking and fishing. The area also has the Olympic Swimming Complex and Indoor Aquatic Center, complete with springboard diving boards, a poolside climbing wall, and now, the Portneuf Kiddie Cove. But experiencing the hot springs themselves is the real treat.

“The gem of the community and all of southeastern Idaho is the World Famous Hot Pools,†says Mark Lowe, executive director of the Lava Hot Springs Foundation. “These pools are built right on the springs for which the town was named. Hot, mineral-laden water bubbles up directly into the pools at 112 degrees, cooling naturally to 102 degrees in the coolest of five pools.”

Lowe explains that the water is naturally odorless and replaced every two hours. After a visit to the springs, he says, you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed.

Another must-see, quick trip for the family is the Craters of the Moon, an otherworldly experience for the science-minded young and old. Visitors to this national monument and preserve witness a geological landscape literally millions of years in the making.

Our great community came together and made something that will be there for generations.

Corey Wight
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