Scenic and Quirky Idaho (bet you thought they only had potatoes there)

We left Jackson and drove west through yet another section of Idaho to meet up with the other half of our group in Ashton, Idaho on our way to West Yellowstone, Montana. After navigating a steep and slightly scary (at least for us flatlanders) mountain pass, we found ourselves on the other side of the Grand Tetons, which made quite a stunning backdrop to acres of farmland. The three main peaks were much more noticeable from this side.

This incredible view was with us for miles and miles as we drove through southeastern Idaho. Aside from the sheer beauty, the scenery was also very peaceful and calming. The sky looked endless, dwarfing the giant mountain peaks, and the contrast in colors with the blue of the sky, verdant green of the farm fields, and white highlights of snow was a perfect palette.

In some ways, it reminded me of the ocean. One of the reasons why I love the ocean is its vastness and the way that puts things into perspective. In that same way, this view reminds me that we (and the things we spend our mental and physical energy on) are a fleeting and insignificant affair, relatively speaking. Don’t make mountains out of molehills, indeed. 🙂

Grand Tetons, Idaho edition
Grand Tetons, Idaho edition

On our first drive through Idaho from Salt Lake City, I had to listen to my husband fake-whine about not seeing any of those famous Idaho potatoes. So, when we passed by The Spud, a little roadside gem outside of Driggs, I had him turn around so we could get some pictures. The giant spud on a truck (complete with potato driver and passenger) is a real eye-catcher for a small town drive-in theater. Of course, things wouldn’t be complete without a Winnie the Pooh made out of a faux-potato, aka, the Pooh-tater, right?

And I don’t know about you, but nothing says “let’s buy some land and a house” quite like a giant bison on the roof. As marketing tactics go, score one for rural Idaho. These folks know how to catch your attention and turn a drive-by into a stop ‘n look.

You know you’re in rural Idaho when you get stuck behind a farm tractor on the highway and then behind some sort of combine-thing and then behind a truck towing a trailer with a weird and rickety metal frame on it, with a few people riding on the back to make sure the thing didn’t collapse.

Despite such delays, we had some extra time, so we detoured to Mesa Falls. It was a lovely spot and despite it being only 20-30 minutes away from Ashton, it felt rather remote. If you’re a history buff like me, you should stop by the Big Falls Inn, which serves as a visitor center. It was built in 1916 and, like the Jackson Lake Lodge we visited, it’s also on the national register of historic places. We were lucky and caught Smoky the Bear in a public appearance.

We met up with the rest of our group at a little roadside diner, Frostop (a happening place in Ashton since 1965). We figured the giant rootbeer mug would make it easy for them to find the place. In related news, it seems that this little corner of Idaho really likes their oddball roadside attractions.

Fun at the Frostop!
Fun at the Frostop!

Thanks to this little stop and our Mesa Falls side trip, I was OK with counting Idaho as state number 2 out of 4 that we visited on our vacation (at least, according to my personal rules). Although we didn’t spend a full day there, we did spend about at least a half-day driving around Idaho and we stopped to see some sites, so I’ll allow it. 🙂

Next up: Yellowstone!

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