Photo: Autumn trees

Autumn foliage brightens Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

Photograph by Caleb Izdepski, My Shot

Pop. 52,000
GPS: 43°29'N 112°02'W

Big-box stores and cookie-cutter housing developments may give Idaho Falls that "Anywhere, USA" vibe, but no other major metro area is as well situated alongside the legendary trout waters of the South Fork of the Snake River.

PLAY

If you’re fished out, swap your waders for hiking boots and venture into Yellowstone and Grand Teton, both about a hundred miles (161 kilometers) away. Or, take an overnight trip out to Island Park: 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Idaho Falls, the park has similar terrain and geographical phenomena to Yellowstone, its next-door neighbor. Island Park is also home to a now-extinct volcano, with a 58-mile by 40-mile (93-kilometer by 64-kilometer) basin that offers stunning hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Wildflowers, bald eagles, and grizzly cubs emerge north of eastern Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains in the spring, which is also a great time of year to jump on a piece of the 3,100-mile (4,989-kilometer) Continental Divide Scenic Trail, a trekking experience unique to this part of the world. Hike Lemhi Pass—Lewis and Clark’s famous point of crossing—on the border of Idaho and Montana.

EAT

The Whitewater Grill, which overlooks the Salmon River, is the perfect place to unwind over anything from steak to sushi (www.wasabiidaho.com).

SLEEP

A rustic cabin makes the perfect base camp for your Island Park explorations (www.islandparkidaho.com). For trips to Lemhi Pass, campgrounds in the Challis National Forest abound. Try the Bear Valley (upper) Trailhead Campground off of Forest Service Road #009. Getting there is a bit tricky; we suggest checking out details with a forest ranger before heading off into the woods (www.stateparks.com/challis.html).

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