Pocatello checked a lot of travel boxes for me. There were plenty of outdoor experiences, yet when the rain came, I found endless museums to explore. The food exceeded my expectations, and I fell in love with the neon signs downtown. I felt like life ran at a slower pace, and made for a wonderful vacation. In no particular order, here are some experiences that you should hit when visiting Pocatello, Idaho–the “Gateway to the Northwest”.
There are over 1,000 miles of maintained recreation trails around Pocatello. Yes, I said over 1K! Pocatello is clearly a trail-setter’s paradise. Hiking is perhaps the simplest way to enjoy the outdoors around the city. For mountain bikers, of all skill levels, this place is a real gem. Locals who have spent decades in the area can attest to the growth in popularity, but with so many trails, it’s easy to find a quiet ride. Even after a short rain, the trails were ready to ride with “hero-dirt” status.
Neon Sign Walking Tour
Pocatello has one of the most comprehensive collections of vintage signs that I have seen. The Old Town Pocatello Foundation launched an initiative in 2012 to “Relight the Night,” and revamp many of the town’s signs and the neons that once made them sparkle. This ongoing community effort offers a shiny glimpse at local history. The majority of signs are scattered throughout the old town, so grab a cup of coffee and wander around.
Visit the Museums
While the rain trickled outside, I took the opportunity to visit some of the area’s museums–and boy, I was impressed!
The Quirky Ones
Right in old town, the Museum of Clean is perhaps the most unique museum I have ever visited. The world’s largest janitor brought a grin to my face, as did the “Orchestra of Clean”–an art installation of “creatures” made from cleaning devices (think man playing a harp that’s made out of a toilet seat). Truly, this place was fascinating! I learned about different vacuum cleaners, and even different air purifying plants. The museum works to promote clean living from your house to the air we breathe. This place is a must-stop!Blackfoot is just up the road from Pocatello, and is THE potato capital of the world! Potato pride runs deep in Idaho, and there was no better place to learn about the history of potatoes than the Idaho Potato Museum. While the museum offers historic information, there are plenty of quirky claims to spot around the museum such as the world’s largest potato crisp and a collection of potato mashing devices. Before you leave, indulge in a loaded baked potato and try the potato chocolate milk!
The Cultural Museums
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum is located on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation just outside Pocatello. I learned so much about the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and their history. The gorgeous, vintage beadwork on display definitely caught my eye! I was also inspired reading about local skate legend, Bryant “Cheddar” Chapo, and the good name that he brings to his people. Souvenirs and artwork can be purchased at the neighboring casino on the reservation.The Fort Hall Replica is a great stop in Pocatello. There you can witness the lives of 19th Century fur traders, early explorers, trappers, Native Americans, pioneers, gold seekers, and all who passed through this “Gateway to the Northwest”–a prominent trade and transport junction.
Explore Massacre Rocks State Park
Only 30 minutes from Pocatello is Massacre Rocks State Park. Distinctive massive rocks and sagebrush scatter down to the banks of the scenic Snake River. Trails meander through the park, offering hiking, biking, fishing and bird watching opportunities. Frisbee golf players will love the course terrain at this park as well!All photos by Emily Sierra Photography.