Boise is the capital and largest city in Idaho. As the capital, this city offers a broad range of activities which can keep everyone in the family entertained. One of the best first stops here is the Boise River Greenbelt. This is a park area that follows the Boise River for 25 miles and includes many sections in downtown Boise. This is a great place to go and see the flora and fauna of the area surrounded by natural settings with the cityscape as a backdrop. There are multiple ways to experience the Greenbelt including hiking one of the many hiking trails, cycling the 10-mile bike path or even paddling the river. It is one of the best urban parks in the country.
To grab supplies for your trip to Yellowstone, try hitting the Capital City Public Market. This open-air market houses over 150 local vendors and is a great place to find locally grown fruits, vegetables, and even some excellent baked goods. There is even live entertainment to enjoy as you shop. If you don't find what you're looking for here then try the Boise Farmers Market. Here you'll find similar items to the Capital City Public Market but in a much less formal setting.
One interesting historical attraction in Boise is The Basque Museum & Cultural Center. It is located downtown in the oldest brick building in the city and it was once a Basque Boarding House. Boise is believed to be the first US city that Basque people emigrated to around the 1830s. They originated from the Basque region, an autonomous district in northern Spain. Their culture plays a large role in this region and this museum is set up to honor that legacy.
Mountain View RV Park is a great place to stay on this trip. It is located on the southeast side of town. This location provides both great access to the city and all of its attractions as well as easy access to our route to Yellowstone.
The trip to Yellowstone National Park is pretty straight forward. First, head south on I-84 to Mountain Home, ID. There, you'll pick up US-20 east, which will take you all the way to the Yellowstone West Entrance Gate.
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is located in Hagerman, ID about an hour south and east of the I-84/US-20 split in Mountain Home. This site is one of the largest and most active fossil beds in the world. The fossils found here date back primarily to the Pliocene age and include everything from the one-toed Hagerman's Horse to saber-toothed cats, bears, mastodons, camels, frogs, lizards and more. There are no hikes or publicly viewable in-ground fossils in the park, but the visitors center provides an excellent overview of the park's significance to paleontology and includes several examples of fossils unearthed here. The park is also a designated Oregon Trail Site and wagon wheel marks left in the mud are still visible at specific sites within the park.
The Hagerman RV Village is a good place for an overnight stay here. This highly rated RV park is located just minutes from the national monument and they have RV sites, tent sites and cabins available for those traveling without camping gear.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located right off of US-20 about halfway to Yellowstone. This makes for a great stop to see the results of a different kind of volcanic activity in the area. Like Yellowstone, this is an active volcanic area. It last erupted only about 2,000 years ago, spilling tons of lava across the region creating an eerie, moonlike landscape that you can explore today.
The park includes a short loop road that can be driven in under an hour. By driving the road, you'll get a good feeling of what this park is all about, but to really experience it you'll need to get out and do some hiking. There are several trailheads along the road. Some of these lead to short hikes, others to caves which you can explore and still others can be taken much farther into the backcountry. A stop at the visitor's center for a map will get you pointed in the right direction for which trails are best for you.
Within the park is the Lavaflow Campground which provides excellent RV and tent camping opportunities. There are 42 sites here available on a first-come, first-served basis. It's located among the newer lava flows and is right next to the visitor's center, making it a unique and convenient place to stay.
Located in Idaho Falls, The Museum of Idaho is an outstanding museum designed to enlighten visitors in the areas of culture and science. This museum features over 25,000 artifacts housed in exhibits focusing on items from around the world so it's not an Idaho specific museum, although they do have extensive Idaho exhibits and highlight Idaho connections when possible.
Originally started in 1898 as a way to bring culture to the area, this museum has grown to be the largest museum in the state. In addition to their permanent exhibits, they also have a rotating exhibit hall for temporary or traveling exhibits. They also have a number of different events and programs throughout the year tailored to adults as well as children. All in all, this is a world-class must-see museum which is located right along the route to Yellowstone National Park.
Snake River RV Park and Campground makes for a perfect place to stay while visiting Idaho Falls. It is located right in town and convenient to the Idaho Museum and the many other attractions in the area. They have RV and primitive sites as well as cabins.
Yellowstone National Park is the oldest and one of the most visited parks in the National Park system. Located primarily in Northwest Wyoming, with small portions protruding into Idaho and Montana, the massive park resides above a large active volcano. The volcanic activity below the park's surface gives rise to the highest concentration of geothermal features in the world. These include geysers, fumaroles, boiling mud pots, hot springs, heated rivers, and more. There is a lot to see and do here beyond the thermal features as well.
The most popular area of the park is the Old Faithful Geyser area located in the Upper Geyser Basin. This is located off the southern loop of the park loop road in the southwestern part of the park. It is a huge area that can take several hours to explore well. There is a ton of parking, but getting here early helps in finding a good place to park and allows you to avoid the huge crowds as you wander the many paths here.
Old Faithful is front and center here. This geyser is not the largest in the park, Steamboat Geyser is, but it is one of the most predictable. Surrounding the geyser you'll find a large seating area where you can grab a spot for the next show. While sitting in the surrounding grandstands gives you a great show, there is another popular vantage point to watch Old Faithful erupt. It takes a little effort to get to, but its hillside vantage point above the geyser makes it well worth the effort. The Observation Point Trailhead is located just north of Old Faithful and takes about half an hour to hike to. Also located on the trail is Solitary Geyser. Make sure you hike around the Upper Geyser Basin. There is a large number of intertwining trails around the 150+ thermal features here. It is like stepping into another world.
The best way to see the park is to travel the Loop Road that runs around it. Along the road, you'll come across several additional geyser basins and other thermal features. They are all worth a stop. Notably, Grand Prismatic Spring is located in the Midway Geyser Basin. This is one of the most beautiful hot springs in the world. To get a good view go in the afternoon; cool mornings here usually leave it shrouded in steam. The best view can be had by climbing the Observation Point Trail across the street. It leads up a hill to give you a great panoramic view.
One other attraction worth a shot at seeing is the recently reactivated Steamboat Geyser. This is the largest geyser in the world. After a long period of inactivity, it has suddenly come back to life and is on course for a record number of eruptions in 2020. It is located in the Norris Geyser Basin and even though it has gotten much more active it's still infrequent and unpredictable. Even so, witnessing its massive eruption would be well worth the stop, as are the other thermal features in the area.
The park is not all about geysers. There are numerous excellent backcountry hiking trails and the wildlife and scenery throughout the park are stunning. Make sure you take time out to visit Yellowstone Lake and the Canyon Village area to see Yellowstone Falls.
The best RV parks are in the West Yellowstone area. This gives you the easiest and fasted approach into the park via the west entrance. Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park is the best choice in town. It's right next to the entrance road is an excellent park.
If the parks in town are all booked up then try Red Rock RV Park in Island Park, ID. It's a great park, super quiet and located right on Lake Henry. If you're boondocking-capable, there are several boondocking sites along the road back to Red Rock RV Park as well. From there, it's only a 20-minute drive right down US-20 to the park's west entrance.