Idaho/travelling through Idaho
We will be leaving southern CA and driving with the family to Yellowstone. Our first night will be in Zion, second in SLC (downtown) and then will stay a week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming so we can do side trips to the Tetons.
Then we'll drive through Yellowstone (staying two nights inside of park) and will exit the west side. Do you have any suggestions of places to stay on the way back down? I saw an area in Idaho Falls called Island Park. I made a reservation at the Pond's Lodge, but the website doesn't show photos and I'm not sure about the location. Someone suggested an area called lava springs (?). I thought it would be fun for the teenagers and eight-year-old to stay at some fun places other than the standard Marriott.
Do you have any suggestions of where we should stay on the way back home from West Yellowstone?
West Yellowstone is a touristy town just at the west gate of Yellowstone. You might want to stop there and have an ice cream or something. The kids would like it. Lots of souvenir kind of stuff. I have heard Island Park called the best fishing spot in the world. It may be. It is very rural. I don't know anything about Pond's Lodge, other than seeing one review of it on TripAdvisor.com. I could not find any pictures either, which would worry me a little. From everything I read, it's been there a long time. I would drink bottled water there as I did find a report about chloriform in the water.
That's just me, though, and they probably will have that taken care of soon. I have never stayed in Island Park, but have just driven through. I remember stopping at a little log cabin store and my husband buying a doughnut and a cup of coffee. :)
Lava Hot Springs is a very historic town in Idaho, as it was on the Oregon Trail and was a place that the pioneers stopped to rest, do laundry, etc, etc. The Lava Hot Springs Resort has an Olympic Sized Pool and a rock climbing wall that the kids might like, but it's not really on your way.
The small city of Pocatello has several chain type motels. This area services a large agricultural area and has a college.
Craters of the Moon is a very neat place to go. It is where the astronauts first practiced for a landing on the Moon. It is unlike anywhere else I have ever seen. It is also very hot in the summer, so be sure to carry water if you go there.
When you go through Twin Falls you can check out the spot where Evel Knievel jumped over the Snake River on his motorcycle.
If you wish, you can head north from Twin Falls and go check out Sun Valley. Central Idaho is truly awesome. THis is a fantastic ski area in the winter, and good for golf, hiking, biking and sightseeing in the summer. There are many celebrity homes in the area. None of them are open for touring, just for looking as you drive by. The small town of Sun Valley is quite historic and they have year round ice skating at the Sun Valley Lodge. It is really a beautiful area, and fun to see if you have the time. They have wonderful ice shows in the summer, featuring world class skaters.
I believe your governor has a place up there.
You could head north from there (also not on your way home) and take a rafting trip down the Salmon River - The River of No Return. These start in Stanley, Idaho. The Salmon River canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon, and also very beautiful with much wild life. There are several outfitters, but here's one, just to give you an idea.
Continuing west from Twin Falls, you will come to Boise, which is the state capitol. It is a charming city, with the Boise River running through the middle of it, surrounded by green spaces for hiking, biking and roller blading which goes through the entire downtown. There are several museums and parks here, and it's a nice place to explore.
There are branches of most hotels here, and many restaurants. The downtown area is pretty vital, which is rather rare in many cities today. Again, if you are looking for a side trip from Boise, you could drive about two hours north on Id 55 to McCall, which is a lumbering and ski resort in the mountains, with a lovely lake. The drive up, along the Payette River is a nice one, especially after you get into the Ponderosa Pines.
From Boise, you can head west into Oregon and home through Reno, or to the beautiful Oregon Coast and down the coast.
I hope you have a wonderful time. If I can help you find any further information, please write again.