Idaho Falls, ID is located in the west-central part of the state in the shadow of the Teton Mountain Range to the east. The city gets its name from the beautiful waterfalls along the Snake River which runs through the city. You can see these today by visiting the Idaho Falls Riverwalk which is part of the outstanding Idaho Falls Greenbelt park system. Located along both shores of the river, this is a great place to go out for a walk to admire the beauty of the river, waterfalls, and area in general.
There are two excellent museums in the area which are well worth a visit. The first is The Museum of Idaho which is an outstanding museum located right in town. It is designed to enlighten visitors in the areas of culture and science. This museum houses 25,000 artifacts in exhibits with a focus on items from around the world. However, 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.
The second museum to visit is The Idaho Potato Museum. Idaho is known for its potatoes. This state is the largest producer of this popular staple in the United States. There are roughly 600 major farms overseeing about 300,000 acres of potato fields spread throughout the state. Here you will learn the history and fun facts about potatoes and potato farming. The museum is located in Blackfoot, ID just off I-15 about a half-hour south Idaho Falls.
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.
The road trip to Reno is an easy one. To get started, head south out of Idaho Falls in US-20. This will take you to Pocatello, ID where you'll pick up I-86 West to Twin Falls, ID. There, you'll switch to US-93 South. This is where the drive gets a little more interesting. US-93 is mostly a two-lane road passing through great expanses of flat desert space.
Two things to note here: you'll pass two warning signs as you head south. One noting to turn on your headlights, the other to make sure you are not dragging any chains on your hitch. Please head both. The desert heat and long, flat, boring undivided road make head-on collisions a real concern. Your headlights make it easier to be seen to prevent this. The chain issue is to prevent sparks and brush fires along the highway. As you drive south you'll likely see several areas along the side of the road where these fires have popped up. When you arrive in Wells, AZ you'll jump on I-80 west which will take you all the way to Reno.
The Shoshone Falls Park, located in Twin Falls, encompasses a set of large waterfalls on the Snake River which are commonly known as the “Niagara Falls of the West”. The flow over the falls is variable depending on the time of year. The flow of the falls is governed by the flow of the Snake River, which is controlled by the Milner Dam located about 20 miles upstream. The waters of the Snake River are critical for agriculture in the region and this dam helps ensures there is enough water in the region to support the crops.
The best time to see the falls run a full flow is in the spring when snowmelt provides an abundance of water for the river. During these times, up to 20,000 cubic feet per second can be seen running over the edge of the falls. In addition to the falls, there are several hiking trails in the area which allow you to get great views of the Snake River Canyon.
If you want to stay the night in the area consider the Bear Den RV Resort. This highly-rated park is located south of the city on US-95 so it is convenient for both visiting the city and continuing on the way to Reno.
Just to the west of Shoshone Falls Park is the site of the failed attempt by Evel Knievel to jump the Snake River Gorge in a steam-powered rocket on February 8, 1974. To accomplish the over 1600 foot flight they build a massive launch ramp which the rocket would run up as it headed to its top speed of over 300 miles per hour. While the physics may have been workable, the rocket suffered a failure which led to the landing parachutes deploying at the end of the launch ramp.
The attempt ended with the rocket landing on the ground on the takeoff side between the steep gorge walls and the river. Evel survived the attempt with a broken nose. Today, the site has a monument commemorating the attempt and much of the launch ramp is still present. The most interesting thing to see here is the size of the gap he was attempting to clear. It is an impressive space that would clearly be a daunting challenge.
Lamoille Canyon is a region just southeast of Elko, NV. It is the largest valley in the Ruby Mountains. The Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway is a 12 mile stretch of 12 lane road which runs through the valley and leads to a nearly 9,000-foot peak. Unlike the lower desert to the west, this area gets a fair amount of rain. In fact, it is the west part of the entire state of Nevada. As such, you'll see more green here then you will see for the remainder of your trip to Reno. If you visit in the spring or early summer you'll also be treated to a beautiful display of natural wildflowers. These spring up each year with the spring rains.
In addition to the great drive, there are many other things to do here. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails. There are also a number of mountain biking trails and rock climbing is a popular activity as well.
The Iron Horse RV Resort is a great RV park to stay at on this trip. It's located in Elko and provides a great base camp for visiting the Lamoille Canyon or the beautiful Ruby Mountains in general. It is also located almost exactly halfway between Idaho Falls and Reno which makes it a perfect midway stopping point on this trip. If you opted to make this a three-day trip it is only 290 miles from Reno, which is a near-perfect day of driving. The park itself is easy to get into and out of. The roads are paved, the sites have concrete pads and are nicely leveled. They are also of decent size, so you'll have room to put your awnings out and enjoy some time out in the beautiful Nevada weather. Finally, the park is quiet which makes it perfect for getting a good night's rest for that final drive to Reno.
Reno, Nevada, or the “Biggest Little City in the World” is a desert oasis just east of the California border. Being in Nevada, it has a similar array of gambling and entertainment establishments as its sister city to the south, Las Vegas. However, the overall atmosphere in Reno is much more subdued than that of Las Vegas.
The Riverwalk District is one of the best family-friendly areas of the city to visit. This area is quite beautiful and provides a great way to get out and enjoy the city. The National Automobile Museum, The Discovery - Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, and other attractions are all located within walking distance.
Just 22 miles to the west lies Lake Tahoe. The drive up there is an interesting demonstration of how quickly environments can change and demonstrates how much mountains can affect the climate in a specific region. You go from the desert environment of Reno on the dry side of the mountains to the lush mountain lake environment of Lake Tahoe in a half hour. During the summer, there are all sorts of water activities to do here. In the winter it's all about skiing. If you are visiting during the summer make sure you visit the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. Within the park is the beautiful Sand Harbor Beach which makes for a great place for a summer picnic and swim.
Shamrock RV Park is an excellent choice for a stay in Reno. It is located just off RT-395 as you come into town from the northwest.