Island Park is perhaps best known not as a town or city, but as a geographic region of extraordinary beauty in the northeast corner of Idaho. Located near the borders of Montana and Wyoming, the area boasts a total human population below 300, while it is mostly occupied by dense forests, wildflowers, lakes, rivers, streams, plentiful wildlife, and the numerous year-round visitors who come for recreation and leisure. The area is a Mecca for anglers and boaters and for those who enjoy hiking, camping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, or who otherwise simply come to enjoy stunning natural landscapes. The Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, world renowned for fly fishing, runs through Island Park and feeds two large lakes popular with visitors. Both Henry’s Lake State Park and Harriman State Park are located in the area.
Island Park is a short distance from Yellowstone’s west entrance but is certainly a destination unto itself. It was molded by some of the same geologic forces that shaped Yellowstone over eons, and the result of those geologic forces was an ancient volcano that collapsed and formed into what is now the world’s largest caldera at 23 miles wide. This crater is now encrusted by forests, meadows, rivers and lakes—angling waters that are teeming with trout— including rainbow, brook, cutthroat, kokanee, hybrid trout, and whitefish. The two major lakes in the area are Island Park reservoir and Henry’s Lake, both of which are confluences of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and other smaller tributaries. Island Park reservoir is a 7000 acre lake popular for boating, fishing, and water skiing. There are several boat ramps and docks, campgrounds and hiking trails. Henry’s Lake is further north and is part of Henry’s Lake State Park. This high elevation lake is generous to anglers who fish for brook, cutthroat, and rainbow-cutthroat hybrid trout, trolling from boats, drifting in float tubes, or casting from shore. Henry’s Lake is typically open between Memorial Day and mid-October each year.
Island Park has an abundance of campgrounds, lodges, and guest ranches that place visitors in the middle of wild pristine beauty. From these accommodations visitors can easily access the surrounding lakes, rivers, and hiking trails. Harriman State Park resides within a 16,000 acre wildlife refuge that is part of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Deer, Elk, Moose, Sandhill Cranes, and Trumpeter Swans can be seen in the park. In addition to premier fly fishing access on Henry’s Fork which winds through the park, visitors can enjoy over 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing.
The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway also winds through Island Park and leads to the Lower and Upper Mesa Falls, two of the last remaining undisturbed waterfalls in Idaho. The upper waterfall towers at 110 feet while the lower falls drops 85 feet. Walking paths and overlooks allow visitors to experience stunning views. The best observation point is probably from the Grandview campground and overlook. Another must see attraction is Big Springs natural national landmark, one of the 40 largest natural springs in the world, producing 120 million gallons of water each day. These springs feed Henry’s Fork and contribute to the grandness of Mesa Falls. Wildlife such as osprey, eagles, muskrats, ducks, moose, trout, and other animals can be spotted at the springs.
Island Park is located about 50 miles north east of Rexburg, Idaho. To learn more about Island Park, please explore the links on the left hand side.