Fall brings a vibrant show of colors in Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory. With leaves changing through September and early October, it’s a great time to be outside and soak in the beauty. The valley starts to cool off in the fall, but there are still plenty of accessible outdoor activities to enjoy. Sounds of elk bugling ricochet through the hills, and being able to witness the elk rut is a special event. Spend at least a few days exploring eastern Idaho this fall, and you’ll fall in love with what you find.
The restaurants throughout Eastern Idaho showcase the local flair. The Badger Creek Cafe in Tetonia, specifically their chicken and waffles, are a must! When passing through Driggs, take your pick of restaurants, then taste true Idaho potato vodka at Grand Teton Distillery. Back in Victor, choose between BBQ, Thai, burgers, and so much more!
Activities – First Day
Find epic mountain views
Escape the crowds and hike a trail in Jedediah Smith Wilderness on the west side of Grand Teton National Park. Miles of trail wind through this gorgeous forest setting, including the Leigh Creek Trail. Marvel at the massive limestone karst geology scattered throughout the region!
Activities – Second Day
Hike up a canyon to a wind cave
Near Driggs, the 7 mile hike up Darby Canyon to the wind cave is not necessarily for the faint of heart. There is a 2,000 ft. elevation gain to the cave, but the views and features along the way are well worth the effort! Before you reach the wind cave–a spectacular sight itself–you’ll reach a plunging waterfall. If you’re willing to put in the work, this is one of eastern Idaho’s quintessential hikes!
…and/or ride some scenic singletrack
The Horseshoe Area singletrack trails west of Driggs showcase stellar mountain biking, mixed with gorgeous scenery. When riding southbound on the trails, you can look forward to epic views of the Teton mountain range. Warning: don’t forget to watch where you’re riding during this insanely beautiful mountain bike ride!
Activities – Third Day
Watch the wildlife
Staying at Teton Mountain Ranch is quite special during the autumn months with courting elk nearby. From the ranch you may hear them bugling, but for a truly special experience, consider hopping aboard an elk tour (available through the end of September). The elk rut is an intense time of year to witness nature, when male elk charge one another, and perform many other mating rituals. During an elk tour, you’ll be safely transported near an elk herd for a up-close encounter.
Find every color of fall, and maybe snag a fish!
Driving around Palisades Reservoir in the fall offers truly spectacular scenery. In a single location, you can place every color of fall, typically through September and into the beginning of October. The drive winds around the reservoir, and there are many pullouts to stop off and snap a photo of the foliage on the surrounding mountainsides. Photographers should note that sunrise is the best time to photograph colors near the lake. At dawn, the sun rises from behind the mountains and casts a lovely glow across the lake. Wildlife tends to be more active in the morning hours as well!
For avid anglers, autumn (and spring, for that matter) is one of the best times for fishing on the reservoir as the temperatures cool down and the fish are more active. Wade-fishing is possible at the reservoir, but the hillsides are relatively steep. If you’re keen to spend time fishing on the lake, the best way is to rent a boat or hire a guide for the day.
Although Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory is absolutely stunning during the fall months, it’s also a wonderful place to visit in winter, spring and of course, summer.