The Oregon Trail was an important route for travelers in search of fortune out west. Here are a few of the notable sites along the way that tour groups can still experience in Idaho.
The town of American Falls is home to Massacre Rocks State Park, a site where early pioneers traveling through the area feared Indian attacks. Ten emigrants were killed on their journey along the Oregon Trail in 1862 when Indians ambushed their party. The park features rugged lava rocks and is home to almost 300 species of desert plants and 200 species of birds. Contact: 208-548-2672.
The City of Rocks Backcountry Byway is an excellent stop for the rock climbing enthusiast. The 49-mile byway route begins in Albion and ends in the historic town of Oakley. The City of Rocks National Reserve is also located near Almo and is a popular stop for climbers. The 500-acre valley features granite columns, some of which reach 60 stories tall, and is known for the areas scenic, geologic and historic significance. The valley of rocks still bears the marks of early pioneers who wrote their names with axle grease on the rocks. Rock climbers from around the world have traveled to this location to take on the challenging rock formations. Contact: 208-824-5519.
Rock Creek Station, located in Twin Falls, was the first trading post on the Oregon Trail to be built west of Fort Hall. Pioneers often stopped at the fort, which served as a saloon, dance hall, post office, polling place and supply store. Visitors can enjoy the log store, two stone cellars, a cemetery and the 1901 Stricker homestead. Contact: 208-423-4000.
The 510 miles of the historic Oregon Trail in Idaho offer travelers the opportunity to view some of Idaho’s beautiful scenic sites while revisiting the journey made by pioneers who were traveling to the West. Travelers can start out on the trail in the southeastern corner of Idaho, making stops along the way to view many of the Oregon Trails historical and scenic areas.
Driving along Idaho 111-mile trail, visitors can stop at Minnetonka Cave and the Paris Tabernacle historical site, both located off of the byway. The largest developed limestone cave in Idaho, Minnetonka Cave offers a variety of stalactites and stalagmites within its walls. The U.S. Forest Service provides a half-mile tour of the cave during the summer. Contact: 208-847-0375.
Nearby, travelers can find the town of Paris, which is home to one of the true pioneer landmarks of the West, the Paris Tabernacle historical site. Listed with the National Register of Historic Places, the Romanesque Mormon Tabernacle features intricate wood ceilings and stone carvings. The red sandstone used to complete the structure was hauled by wagon or sled from a quarry 18 miles away. Heirlooms and objects of art that were left behind by homesteaders are showcased in a small museum. Contact 208-945-2072.
The settlers traveling along the Oregon Trail helped pioneer the west with the largest mass migration in American history. Accessible from the Bear Lake Scenic Byway, The at Clover Creek in Montpelier explores the historical background behind the Oregon Trail migration. The center offers a ride in a computer-controlled covered wagon, guided trail tours and features various pioneer tools and artifacts. Contact: 208-847-3800.
Travelers may want to make a stop and stay in the area to experience the area’s natural hot water springs, providing a relaxing getaway along the Oregon Trail. The springs, which were used by Indian tribes for centuries, remain between 102 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The resort offers hot mineral baths that are sulfur and odor free, along with other area recreational activities such as horseback riding, golf and nearby shopping areas. Contact: 800-423-8597.
Once an important stop for emigrants traveling to the west, Fort Hall continues to welcome today’s travelers from the Oregon Trail. The replica, located in Pocatello, shows visitors the inner workings of the fort along with an outdoor exhibit. Contact: 208-234-4636.
Close to Pocatello is the Fort Hall reservation. Here travelers can visit the area, which contains various artifacts from tribes and information about the Shoshone-Bannock tribal history. Contact: 208-237-9791.