Idaho Falls: An Autumn Adventure

Small-town charm settles in along the benches and Canada geese of the river walk, and you’ll find yourself unwinding with nature in the heart of the biggest city in the region.
Prepared By:

Casey A.

Traveler, writer, editor

Fall is a season in which two very different seasons meet: the heat of summer crashes against the ice of winter. It creates colorful foliage that seems to show off the warm colors of summer while anticipating the bright whites of winter. It creates crisp mornings and toasty afternoons, as if allowing us to experience both seasons in a single 24 hours. As wildlife migrate and change their behavior, why not follow their lead and celebrate the clash of seasons on the road? We recommend a place where surprising pairings are the standard.

This story was created in partnership with Visit Idaho Falls. Photos courtesy of Visit Idaho Falls.

The city of Idaho Falls is a bit like fall in that very different elements seem to converge to create unexpected beauty and exhilaration. Idaho Falls is characterized by the 600-foot-wide waterfall of the Snake River that crashes down in the heart of town. The dramatic show of the river is complemented by the peaceful, 10-mile river walk that follows along both sides of the Snake River through town. Small-town charm settles in among the benches and Canada geese of the path, and you’ll find yourself unwinding with nature in the heart of the biggest city in the region.

Geese on Snake River in Idaho Falls

Stray a bit from the path and discover a notable art scene. A brisk walk in crisp air surrounded by the golden leaves of aspen groves, punctuated by the warmth of a local art gallery is a beautiful way to spend a day of your vacation. One of just two art museums in the state of Idaho is here, so make a point of visiting the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, a facility created by local passion. Check out the current exhibit at the Willard Arts Center or upcoming show at the Colonial Theater operated by the Idaho Falls Arts Council as well.

Eagle statues in Idaho Falls in autumn

Just as the cultural ventures of this cozy city meet the wild nature of the river, the vast outdoors surrounding Idaho Falls stand in juxtaposition to the bustle. Follow a river out of town for some peaceful, blue-ribbon fly fishing in solitude—did you know both the South fork of the Snake and the Henry’s Fork rivers are running wild with trout awaiting your fly? The former flows through mountains, canyons, and more, while the latter winds through farm and ranch lands and forests. Fall angling is particularly special, and the cool weather makes catch-and-release less stressful on the fish.

Cool weather fishing near Idaho Falls

But beyond the city you won’t just find water; you’ll also come upon lava and sand dunes. Hell’s Half Acre Lava Field and Twenty Mile Trail (don’t worry, it’s closer to 9 miles) both guide hikers through hardened lava, which is now rich in unique flora and fauna. These lava fields have very little shade and can get very hot—all the more reason to visit during the cooler fall season.

Hell's Half Acre near Idaho Falls, ID

Hell’s Half Acre. Photo by Pablo Guzman

Take your adventure from iridescent black rock fields to shimmering white quartz sand. The St. Anthony Sand Dunes are over 10,000 acres of habitat and evolving playground. Explore via OHV, on foot, or even on horseback during the milder autumn season to enjoy this Idaho desert landscape. Then finding your way back to the waterfall of Idaho Falls to wrap up your holiday of juxtaposition and discovery.

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