Visit an urban waterfall, see grizzly bears and zip line over the rugged Idaho landscape.
Idaho Falls is situated right in the middle of the outdoor action and breathtaking landscapes of the Western USA. Located in southeastern Idaho, Idaho Falls is less than two hours from Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park and an hour-and-a-half drive from Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. But don’t overlook the outdoor fun located closer to the city: Embrace nature in and around Idaho Falls on its celebrated riverfront, at a wildlife viewing park and on an exciting zip line adventure.
Idaho Falls River Walk and Downtown Idaho Falls
The Idaho Falls River Walk encompasses about 22 kilometers of riverbank with paths on both sides of the Snake River. Pedestrian bridges make it possible to walk a full loop and enjoy views of the river from all angles. One of the most picturesque spots is also the namesake of the city: Idaho Falls. Here, the Snake River gently cascades over rocks for a full sensory experience and a great photo opportunity. Each season brings its own natural delights: the exciting rush of high waters in spring, gorgeous autumn fall foliage, a snowy winter wonderland or warm summer days with flowers in full bloom. While walking the trail, enjoy Taylor’s Crossing, a replica of the first bridge that crossed the Snake River. Art is an important feature of the river walk, including stone lanterns from Tokai-mura, Japan, and Jason Brown’s topiary sculptures that meld natural materials into playful creations.
Nearby, stroll Idaho Falls’ charming and lively downtown. Grab a coffee at Villa Coffeehouse and Café; its espresso beans are roasted locally each week and the desserts are all made from scratch. Take a selfie with Kris Burnham’s mural located on the side of the coffee shop, and then visit Carol Poppenga’s “Skateboard Bench,” part of the city’s quirky “art you can sit on” series. Wrap up your explorations along the self-guided historic walking tour, including the Willard Arts Center/Colonial Theater, the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho and the Museum of Idaho.
A tranquil moment overlooking the Snake River from the Idaho Falls River Walk
Yellowstone Bear World
Among the region’s many amazing outdoor opportunities, this particular adventure has some highlights you won’t soon forget. Yellowstone Bear World is a drive-thru wildlife park that’s home to some of the Western USA’s most famous animals. While slowly cruising on the park’s self-driving path, it’s possible to spot Rocky Mountain elk, bison, whitetail deer, mule deer, Rocky Mountain goats, moose and the main stars of the show: American black bears and grizzly bears.
For a more in-depth experience, take a ride with a professional animal keeper on the wildlife excursion. Visitors are driven around the park in the top of an open-air vehicle with 360-degree views. The animal keeper explains interesting facts about the wildlife and has treats for visitors to feed to the animals, creating up-close moments for photos. It’s also the only opportunity for park guests to feed adult bears. If that’s not a close enough encounter, try the hands-on bottle-feeding experience where keepers take visitors behind-the-scenes to feed bear cubs. The park also features amusement park rides, a butterfly haven and a gift shop selling must-taste homemade fudge.
Greeting bears on the wildlife excursion at Yellowstone Bear World
Heise Hot Springs
For a spot that packs both relaxation and adventure into its offering of experiences, visit or camp at Heise Hot Springs. It’s most well-known for its namesake natural mineral hot springs. Kept at 40 degrees Celsius, the mineral waters can help relax tension and soothe sore muscles all year-round, but they’re also fun to just splash around in. Heise Hot Springs offers cabins, campgrounds and RV spots, perfect for launching an exploration of the surrounding natural wonders. Stay busy by teeing off at the 9-hole golf course or conquering the zip line course. Covering about a kilometer of terrain, 10 separate zip lines take riders over rolling hills, scrub brush and rocky terrain. The zip line also offers the opportunity to soar next to, or perhaps race, a friend or family member. Try a sunset or night tour, where you’ll be able to fly through the air as the sun sets or the stars are out. And after a long day spent in the outdoors, enjoy a slice (or two) of pizza from local staple Heise Pizza Parlor.
Getting ready to soar on the sunset zip line tour at Heise Hot Springs
Fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and rent a car. Idaho Falls is about a 3-hour drive from the airport. Or, catch a connecting flight into Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA), where you can also rent a car.