A Not-So-Distant Vacation to Island Park
Written By My Local Utah Content Writer
Island Park, Idaho, the perfect destination to get away from it all and reconnect with nature. This area has long since been appreciated by a select few that know of its understated beauty and convenient proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Decorated with rustic cabins and a brand new Marriott hotel, this town is steadily growing in popularity, creating a bittersweet scenario for those that Island Park has played an important role in their family vacation memories.
Despite the growing popularity, lodging in Island Park is a little unusual in the sense that family cabins far outnumber hotels. The best route to securing accommodations in this area is to know someone; however, if you don’t have a personal connection, Airbnb and a number of local cabin rental companies have a great variety of options as well. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find somewhere that includes access to kayaks or maybe even a hot tub. Some cabins are equipped for the winter, while others are only available during the summer months.
Mack’s Inn is easily the most popular kayak and raft rental provider in all of Island Park. This iconic company is located directly in front of the new Marriott, and shares a storefront with their famous ice cream shop called The Parlor. Here you can get exotic flavors like huckleberry cheesecake, moose tracks, and grizzly tracks. Don’t forget to enjoy your creamy treat with a stunning view of Snake River.
Further up the river is the historic Johnny Sack’s cabin, which was built in 1932. John Sacks was a German cabinet maker whose house reflects his skillful and artistic craftsmanship. If you time it right, you will be able to tour the inside of the cabin and see the beautiful workmanship up close and personal. The cabin is surrounded by crystal clear waters and an abundance of trout.
If you enjoy adventures, be sure to bring along, or rent some sort of off road vehicles during your stay. Whether you prefer snow mobiles or ATV’s, Island Park has countless miles of trails that will keep you occupied for days. It’s fairly common to encounter a moose or some variety of wildlife along these trails, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled. There are plenty of local rental options, but you will need to call ahead to make reservations. In Island Park there is a very distinct off season where most things are closed, calling ahead will help you avoid running into this frustration.
When it comes to food in Island Park, Connie’s is definitely a favorite. The couple that opened this restaurant also owns the Island Park Lodge. After perfecting their food offerings at the lodge, they decided to take on the challenge of opening Connie’s. This homey restaurant and saloon is well known for their melt-in-your-mouth prime rib and flavorful BBQ Baby Back ribs. If you are in Island Park during peak season, don’t neglect to make an early reservation to ensure that they don’t run out of the prime rib before you arrive!
Another great perk of Island Park is it’s close proximity to West Yellowstone. This small town has a population of 1300 people, but accommodates up to 4 million visitors each year! The biggest draw of this area is the access to Yellowstone National Park. This geographical area features geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and abundant wildlife. Yellowstone was established as the world’s first national park in 1872, so it is chock full of history. Summer can often be lacking in wildlife, but there will still be plenty of natural springs and beautiful scenery to make the trip well worth it.
A final must-see is the picturesque Upper Mesa Falls. Mesa Falls is located just 16 miles outside of Ashton, Idaho and features a roaring waterfall that is 114 feet high and 200 feet wide. The former Big Falls Inn has been converted into the Mesa Falls Visitor Center with information about the local wildlife and history of the area. There is a small fee of $5 for every vehicle, but this goes towards maintaining the trails, walkways, and the visitor center and is a small price to pay for such mesmerizing views.
Whether you are looking for your next family vacation spot or a romantic getaway, Island Park has plenty to offer. With countless opportunities to reconnect with nature, tasty homemade eats, and historic learning opportunities everywhere, what’s not to love? If you are a fellow avid fan of Island Park and know of any additional activities or attractions in the area, we’d love to hear from you! We’d also love to hear from you if you are experiencing the magic of Island Park for the first time. Send us an email or tag us on social media today.