7 must-do day trips in east Idaho


Children enjoy Cress Creek in spring 2016. | Courtesy Jamie Patten
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No one can deny the winters are long here in east Idaho. After the cold and windy winter months, it’s fun to start planning your spring and summer adventures.

Whether you are tired of being indoors after a long winter, or just need to get out of the office and go exploring, these seven day trips are sure to let you see what east Idaho has to offer.

1. Cress Creek Nature Trail

Great for families or individuals, this trail is a paved loop and only about a 1-mile roundtrip. The wildflowers in the spring and yellow cottonwoods in the fall give this trail something new to look at in each season, while the picnic table in the overlook area makes it a great morning activity. As a bonus, it’s also close to Heise Hot Springs if you want to turn a quick trip into an all-day affair.

2. Packsaddle Lake

Packsaddle Lake is a lesser-known spot, but great for a short hike, fishing, or swimming. A four-wheel drive vehicle will help get you to the top if you want a shorter hike, or plan to hike an extra mile or so if you bring a smaller vehicle. With trees shading the way, it’s easy to stop and rest with small ones, and a rope swing near the lake, it’s a fun way to cool off in the summer months.

3. Darby Wind Caves

Attention: This is not a beginner’s hike or one to do with small children! But don’t let that discourage you. A little over 5 miles round trip to hike to the cave, you will see waterfalls, wildflowers and so much more. A favorite hike on many east Idaho activity blogs, this trail is recommended on a warm day in late summer.

4. Camas Wildlife Refuge

Heading back into family-friendly zone, Camas is a great place to bird watch or check out other wildlife like moose, deer and even porcupines. In different areas you can drive or hike, and its ponds, marshes and fields make it a great area for exploring and photography. If you are looking to take more of a walk than a true hike, this is a great spot for you.

5. Mesa Falls

A well-known spot, Mesa Falls offers a paved trail with shade and the mist of the falls to cool you on your journey. There are stairs, but it is a pretty trail and will only take you about 10 minutes to get to the Upper Mesa Falls. It is also a popular spot for kayaking. There is a small entrance fee to get in, but worth it if you are looking for a spot with amenities like bathrooms, visitors center, maps and a raised observation area.

6. Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is — as its name implies — like another world. | Courtesy Jamie Patten

This place is a popular tourist area for a reason. Where else can you climb a volcano and explore a lava tube cave in the same afternoon for a nominal entrance fee? Probably somewhere … but it doesn’t stop it from being awesome. Be sure to be prepared for heat as black lava captures and radiates heat. With hikes ranging in length from an hour to half a day, you can choose your own adventure.

7. Float the Warm Slough

Like a man-made lazy river, the Warm Slough is great for a gentle ride down a river. About a mile ride, it takes roughly an hour and is great for a family trip or an outing with friends. If you do not wish to carry your tubes for the mile walk back to your car, parking a car at the beginning and end of the route is recommended.

With most of these day trips being free, it’s easy to explore what east Idaho and the great outdoors have to offer. If you are looking to de-stress, or just looking to have some fun, these day trips are for you.

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