East Central Idaho and Beyond

Fall is near in the East Central section of Idaho. The leaves are changing colors which gives the forest a more vibrant appearance, the golden fields of wheat and hay are being harvested and the start of the digging of the famous Idaho potatoes have begun. Driving the Teton Scenic byway and the Mesa Falls Scenic byway leads right through the heart of some of this spectacular landscape.
The 69-mile long Teton Scenic Byway starts in Swan Valley on the Snake River and runs through the Targhee National Forest where wild life can be spotted around any corner and the forest is displaying the beauty of the nearing fall season. As the highway drops out of the National Forest, it passes through the historic towns of Victor and Driggs, where mountain men and fur trappers held their annual get-together. As the highway runs through the rolling hills of the range land, to the East can be seen the towering peaks of the Teton Mountains reaching as high as 13,000 feet.
Connecting at the North end of the Teton Scenic byway at Ashton is the Mesa Falls Scenic byway. For 28-miles the highway runs Northeast through the vivid colors of the Targhee National forest before ending just South of Island Park. Along the way are the lower and upper Mesa Falls, two of the most impressive waterfalls in the West. These two falls are the only falls undisturbed in Idaho for irrigation or hydroelectric projects. The lower falls can be best viewed from the Grand View Campground overlook where the Snake River is squeezed into a narrow gorge which drops 65-feet. A few miles up the highway is the upper falls, with a visitor's center which has information about the history of the surrounding area. A developed path with a wooden walkway leads to the falls where the view displays the Snake River before the 114-foot plunge, to within a few feet of the fall itself stretching some 200-feet across. As the walkway winds its way back up the cliff, the view of the entire falls is beyond spectacular.
There are times when the drive to the intended destination can be just as rewarding as the destination point itself. Driving US 26 around the Southern end of the Snake River Mountain range provides some awe-inspiring beauty where the highway winds its way around the cliff walls running parallel to the Palisades Reservoir with the towering Caribou Mountain Range peaks as a backdrop. As the highway crosses into Wyoming, it takes a more Northern route along the Eastern cliff walls of the mountains running parallel to the Snake River creating a beautiful setting where wildlife thrives in an abundance before reaching the valley just East of the Teton Mountain Range. Returning to Idaho from the Tetons is the Teton Pass which is on the Southern end of the Teton Mountain range. The highway reaches an elevation of 8,431 feet where one will have an excellent view of Jackson Hole and the surrounding valley.
A park with over 300,000 acres sitting in a large valley with prairies and pristine forests, where there are no foothills to obstruct the view of the mountains. A mountain range that rises above pristine lakes, alpine terrain, the Snake River, and where extraordinary wildlife exist. A park where the John D Rockefeller Parkway runs through the Eastern side of the park and ends in the Southern section of Yellowstone National Park, making both parks easily accessible. This is Teton National Park, a wonder in itself.
Getting around Teton National Parks is quite simple, where the Grand Loop road is part of the Rockefeller Parkway which passes by a large portion of Lake Jackson and the Teton Road, which crosses the Lake Jackson Dam and winds its way closer to the Teton Mountain Range with two other scenic roads branching off. The Signal Mountain Road is a narrow two-lane road which winds its way up the mountain to 7,727 feet in elevation, where the view of Jackson Lake with the Teton Mountains as a back drop provides a view which will last a lifetime. Last but not least, is Jenny Lake Loop, this one-way traffic highway winds through a thick lush forest passing by several lakes with hiking trails before running parallel to Jenny Lake.
For the children in all of us, the Idaho Falls Zoo is a great little side trip. The zoo's selection of animals for our enjoyment is quite unique, with animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, as well as North America. There is a designated area for a children's zoo with a petting area and adjacent to it is a breed of Penguins which have adapted to cold and hot weather. Yellowstone Bear World just south of Rexburg not only has a children's petting area where one can bottle-feed black bear cubs, but the park also has a drive-through where the wildlife roam freely in their natural habitat. In reality, this is the only place which guarantees one will see Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Moose, Elk, and Deer.
Since my wife and I started camping we have discovered that camping is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors and to experience what mother nature and North America has to offer. One of the joys of camping is having all your home essentials with you. explorenorthamericawithus Besides, what better way to meet new and exciting people than by camping.
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