I travel a lot. I’m attracted to small towns, welcoming communities and vistas that never end. Every place I stop, I think to myself, “could I live here?”. When I spent time in Pocatello, Idaho in 2019, I knew that answer was not only “yes”, but I was already plotting future travels plans to the area again. The current state of the world has many people focusing inward, close to home, or destinations within a day’s drive. Pocatello is just that for me, so here’s what I’m stewing up for my next visit in the Gateway to the Northwest.
Photo: Visit Pocatello
This article was created in partnership with Visit Pocatello.
Staying near Historic Downtown Pocatello
Numerous hotels are within a short drive or bike ride to Historic Downtown Pocatello. Cozy, immaculate accommodations welcome travelers passing by on the interstate. Their location makes them ideal for exploring nearby trails, while still being close enough to a coffeehouse in the morning and a sushi restaurant in the evening. Actually, one of my favorite things about Pocatello is the impressive number of restaurants: everything from fine dining to pizza and Mexican specialties. This is certainly not something I would expect from a bustling rural community! When I return to Pocatello, I can’t wait to share the downtown experience with my husband—especially at night! Relight the Night is an initiative to revamp neon signs and bring them to life around downtown. I love this retro feature of Pocatello! Depending on our timing in the area, we will certainly check out the Portneuf Valley Farmer’s Market, First Friday Art Walk, or take a haunted history tour.
Photo: Emily Sierra Photography
Singletrack for days
There are over 1,000 miles of recreation trails in and around Pocatello. One thousand! This number is impressive, but the actual singletrack is even more so. Pocatello is a cycling destination, and the secret is out… but not like destinations such as Moab or Crested Butte. For the prime singletrack I was riding, I was struck by the lack of people using the trails. Flowy cross-country trails wind through aspens, kiss wildflowers, and have a true sense of remoteness.
Photo: Emily Sierra Photography
The beauty of the trails around Pocatello—aside from the number of them—is just how easily accessible they are from town. Whether it’s a quick jaunt on the Greenway in town or getting up into the hills, I like that I don’t have to drive far to reach a trailhead. Many of the Pocatello trails are open to electric bikes, making them even more accessible for all trail users. With Barries Ski & Sports and East Fork Bikes in town, I know I can get any last-minute needs or intel before hitting the trails.
Photo: Visit Pocatello, Kim Kirkham
Cooling off in the Portneuf River
From downtown, I’ll be able to pass a lazy afternoon floating the Portneuf River between city-designated access points. The town rents inner tubes, so fortunately I don’t even need to bring my own. Pocatello developed a handy map showing the access points and distances between them. So often I find that I have to drive to find a river for a quick swim, so I love that this is so close to downtown!
In Pocatello: Climbing, Disc Golf and Fishing
A crag in town? Simply amazing. I am looking forward to getting on the rock at Ross Park, a local’s spot right in town. The “Shady Side” is perfect for escaping heat in the summertime, and a great spot for top-rope climbing and bouldering. The option to climb outdoors so close to where we are staying makes it easy and convenient to get out for an hour to two, and still have plenty of time for a hike in the afternoon.
Once again, I just love that I don’t have to travel far to find recreation in Pocatello! There are five disc golf courses in the Pocatello area, ranging from play in town to courses up into the woods. Since I’m 100% new to disc golf, I found this helpful article to get me started in the sport.
Photo: Visit Pocatello, Brooke Bohus
The Portneuf Wellness Complex is an 80-acre complex with a large lake and fishing docks, again right in town! I know my husband won’t miss an opportunity to fly fish the legendary Idaho rivers, but the lake at the Wellness Complex makes for an easy way to spend a morning. While he fishes, I might just practice my bike skills in the pump track at the Complex.
Even if it rains in Pocatello, there are still some great indoor museums to visit, such as the Museum of Clean, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum or the Idaho Museum of Natural History. I can’t wait to return to this gem of destination in Idaho this summer!