A trip to Island Park in southeastern Idaho is all about enjoying time with your family in the great outdoors. Island Park vacation rentals in the woods range from rustic cabins to luxury log homes. Sitting along the Wyoming state line, Island Park offers easy access to Yellowstone National Park and all the fun and unique sites that the park has to offer. Other nearby parks include the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and the Hartman State Park. If you love water, the Island Park Reservoir is nearby for boating, fishing, and swimming. While planning your trip, consider these top 11 things to do in Island Park with your kids.
1. Wildlife Watching
Kids always love spotting animals in nature, and in this part of Idaho, there’s plenty of wildlife to see. Take the family to the Harriman State Park for an afternoon of wildlife watching. Animals your family is likely to see in abundance include elk, moose, trumpeter swans, and sandhill cranes. It’s possible that you might catch sight of a brown or black bear, but if you do, keep your distance and avoid any contact.
Bring your kayaks or canoes on the trip with you, and take them over to Henry’s Lake for a day of exploring and paddling. This small alpine lake is easy to navigate over an afternoon. Make your way to the center of the lake, or stay close to the shores for some birdwatching and wildlife viewing.
Visit the 7000-acre Island Park Reservoir to enjoy time on a motorboat or sailboat. On the east end of the lake by the dam are several boat ramps to launch your boat with one more boat ramp on the west end. If you don’t bring a boat with you, one of the local outfitters can rent you one for an afternoon.
4. Horseback Riding
Schedule a horseback riding tour with your family to explore the outdoors without tiring out your feet. Dry Ridge Outfitters Horseback Rides offers trail rides from early summer until the end of October. Your family can enjoy a short ride that lasts around an hour through Harriman State Park or a longer one that takes up half a day and goes deeper into the park.
One of the popular winter sports in Island Park is snowmobiling. Several outfitters in the area rent snowmobiles. Drivers must have a license, and smaller children can ride with a parent. Flat Rock Trail and Creek Trail offer scenic views and cleared trails through the woods and valleys. Many outfitters are happy to advise you of their favorite trails.
6. Big Springs
Take the kids for a day at Big Springs. Here, the Snake River begins with a spring that pours over 1 million gallons of water each day. At the base of the springs and the bridge, large trout hang out waiting for scraps from the visitors. Bring bread from your vacation rental so that your kids can feed the fish. Walk the short trail to the Johnny Sack Cabin with its unique design and furnishings to learn a little local history.
7. Earthquake Lake
Learn a little about the local history with a day at Earthquake Lake. An earthquake struck this area on August 17, 1959, caused a landslide of massive rocks and boulders that blocked the Madison River and created the new lake. Today, you can fish along the banks, kayak, or enjoy a picnic lunch as you marvel at the wonders of nature.
8. River Rafting
Wild West Rafting and Geyser Whitewater Expeditions offer guided tours out on the water for your family. Decide how adventurous a trip you want and how long you want to spend on the river. Your guide will teach you the basics of rowing and ensure everyone has a life vest.
9. Cross-country Skiing
In the winter months, this area of the country becomes a winter wonderland with snow everywhere. Many of the local hiking and biking trails become hot spots for cross-country skiing. Bring your ski gear from home, and store it in the garage of your vacation rental, or contact one of the local outfitters to get the equipment you need.
10. Yellowstone IMAX Theater
Just a short drive from your Island Park vacation rental is the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park, where you’ll find the Yellowstone IMAX Theater. If the weather turns rainy or too cold to venture out, take the kids to this theater for an afternoon of fun, awe, and learning. The theater shows a film about the park and its history, with a look at what the park looked like in the past.
11. Old Faithful
In about an hour, your family can reach one of America’s most famous natural icons, Old Faithful. This geyser shoots naturally hot water out of a vent in the earth’s crust. It erupts every 45 to 125 minutes, with each eruption lasting five to 10 minutes. Old Faithful sits in the Upper Geyser Basin of the park, which contains more than 300 active geysers.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Island Park vacation rentals on Tripping.com.