Frontier Airlines Stock – Local Flavours: The Complete Guide to Riding in Eastern Idaho
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO RIDING IN
Words, photos, & video by Brice Shirbach
Presented by Visit Idaho
Note from the author: These are strange and tenuous times we find ourselves in, and putting together a travel guide when so much of the planet is (rightfully) dealing with various travel restrictions due to the global pandemic is a strange and tenuous task. The truth is that these trails will be waiting for you whenever the time is right for you to explore them safely. For now, enjoy the images and inspiration, and stay safe my friends.
Here’s the deal: I spent 5 days riding my bike in the Pocatello area and in the Teton Valley, and I’d say I barely scratched the surface. I know we call these “The Complete Guide to Riding In (insert location here)”, but this is decidedly incomplete. In fact I’d say that most of these are, and that’s a good thing too, as there should always be more to explore, and I can confirm that Eastern Idaho has quite a lot more to explore than I was able to. In 5 days, each of which saw me spend no less than 8 hours on my bike, I am not especially confident in saying that I saw even 5% of what this region has to offer. That’s rad, and that’s what has me itching for a return.
Location: Wilmington, DE, USA
Industry affiliations: Pivot Cycles, Maxxis Tires, Pearl Izumi, 9point8, Julbo, Deity Components, Shimano, Dialed Health, Stan’s No Tubes
Favorite Ride in Eastern Idaho: Down the Chimney
Riding Style: Whatever’s Clever
A Bit About the Region
Long before Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark crossed through Idaho on the way to the Oregon coastline, this land was inhabited by the Shoshone-Bannock people for centuries. The tribes generally lived as hunters and gatherers, traveling during the warmer months gathering food for sustenance during the harsh winters of the region. Their connection to the land they called home was profound. They hunted wild game, fished the region’s abundant and bountiful streams and rivers, and collected native plants and roots. However as railway development allowed for increased westward expansion for American immigrants, the Shoshone-Bannock tribes would find that their traditional way of life was infringed upon severely. Currently the Shoshone-Bannock people are based at the Fort Hall reservation about 20 minutes north of Pocatello, and is one of five federally recognized tribes in the state.
Today, Eastern Idaho is held in high regard as an outdoor paradise. Fly fishing on the Snake River and its various tributaries and feeder systems, hunting down hot springs both on and off the map, and of course exploring some of North America’s most revered mountains are all significant draws for visitors and residents in the area. Idaho is famous for its potato production, and the majority of that occurs in this portion of the state as well. Agriculture is a major driver for the region’s economy as evidenced by the seemingly endless stretches of barley, wheat, and cattle farms and fields that fill in the gaps between the mountains.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the largest religion in the region, and much of the culture here is anchored to the church and its sensibilities. The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple dominates the city skyline and was the LDS Church’s first temple built in Idaho, and the first built with a modern single-spire design. Pocatello is home to Idaho State University, a public university with close to 13,000 undergrad and graduate students, and is highly regarded for its psychology programs as well as its nuclear education and training programs.
COVID-19 updates: Some counties and communities across the state of Idaho are requiring residents and visitors to maintain physical distance and wear face coverings in public places and outside where physical distancing is not possible. Check out Visit Idaho’s COVID-19 travel information page to stay up to date on any restrictions that may impact your travel plans.
Getting to Eastern Idaho
I flew into the Boise Airport (BOI) and drove about 5 hours to Idaho Falls where I would spend the next 5 evenings exploring the Teton Valley and Pocatello. This airport is a small airport compared to most major international airports, but is large enough to offer low airfares and has all of the resources you need in terms of car rentals and ease of access. Salt Lake City is actually an hour closer to Eastern Idaho than Boise, and again, provides you with low cost options for flights as well as plenty of additional transportation resources. You can always opt to fly into Idaho Falls or Jackson, WY as well. Idaho Falls is squarely between Pocatello and the Teton Valley, and is serviced by Skywest/Delta Airlines, United Express, Allegiant Air, and Frontier Airlines. You can connect via non-stop flights to cities such as Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and others. Jackson Hole Airport is located within Grand Teton National Park boundaries, and is less than 45 minutes from Victor, ID. Flights here are notoriously hit or miss when it comes to their schedules, but it’s a stunning place and easily the closest to Driggs and Victor. Jackson is serviced by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Skywest Airlines and United Airlines seasonally. These airlines provide direct service to Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Minneapolis, Chicago, Newark, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and Los Angeles.
You can also catch the bus out of Boise and Salt Lake via the Salt Lake City Express. They offer daily trips to southeast Idaho, and very palatable fares compared to train or flight options.
Of course I’m all about that road trip life, and this is one hell of a sweet place to see on your own schedule and at your own pace. Idaho’s interstates generally see good traffic flow without much in the way of major population centers to slow things down, and gas prices in this part of the country are reasonable as well.
Eastern Idaho’s riding season varies depending on which area you are considering. Pocatello trails typically open up earlier than those in the Teton Valley, with favorable riding conditions starting in April and going through October. The Teton Valley is known for being a world class winter destination due to the ample amount of cold and dry snow that blankets the mountains every winter, so the bike season in this part of Eastern Idaho is considerably shorter than Pocatello’s, usually kicking off in mid to late May and ending in early October, or whenever the snow starts to fly.
Temperatures during the summer months are generally warm, with temps rarely getting above 90 degrees F in Pocatello, and are cooler as you travel north through the Teton Valley. Wildfires have been a major part of the narrative for much of the American West in recent years, and Idaho has not been immune to them either. Keep your eyes on fire warnings and forecasts as you plan your trip, as it can certainly have an impact on travel.
Eastern Idaho has something for all bikes. Just across the state line from Driggs is Grand Targhee’s bike park, which has some properly steep and rowdy terrain, as well as some sizable jump lines that your DH rig will eat up. Most of the riding warrants something within that long to mid travel trail bike range, as there’s quite a lot of climbing required to access many of the area’s best descents. Gravel/cross bikes see a lot of love here as well, with thousands of miles of dirt and gravel roads to explore between the national parks and forests throughout the region.
Local Clubs and Advocates:
Oddly enough, there are no actual advocacy groups on the ground in Pocatello. Area bike shops such as East Fork Bikes volunteer at local events and help to organize dig and trail days, but the waters are a bit murky when it comes to the relationship between riders and land managers here. It’s not a bad relationship either, it’s just not entirely clear how things are working. The trails are awesome, so I suppose somebody is doing something right.
The Teton Valley is a very different story in terms of advocacy efforts. Mountain Bike the Tetons is an incredible group dedicated to enhancing lifestyles and livelihoods in both Eastern Idaho as well as Western Wyoming through the growth and development of a truly vast array of mountain bike trails. There are 7 full time staff members (4 trail crew, 2 youth program managers and an executive director) in addition to an 11 member board of directors. They are officially a member of IM(BA), however they operate under their own 501(c)3 with a membership that totals roughly 600 individuals per year.
Accommodations and Food:
Given the importance of outdoor recreation and tourism for the region, there are numerous options for any budget and preference to stay and play in Eastern Idaho. Pocatello has numerous options, including several of the big name hotel franchises including Fairfield Inn, Towne Place Suites, Motel 6, Hampton Inn, etc. There are also a number of locally owned, smaller scale lodging options including an RV park and of course plenty of camping options throughout the Caribou National Forest land. An Airbnb search will yield nearly 200 options as well.
Between Victor and Driggs you’ll find a handful of hotel and lodges that range from a Super 8 to a full service resort. Camping is a great choice here as well, just remember that you’re in grizzly country and to prepare accordingly.
For a breakdown of places to stay, check out VisitIdaho.org.
Red Hot Roasters serves up tasty baked treats and of course amazing coffee.
Rise Coffee House in Driggs has amazing coffee and espresso, with light breakfast and bakery options.
Alpine Air Coffee Roasting drive-thru in Victor is run by mountain bikers, and has amazing food and coffee served up all morning.
Looking to keep it clean and free of gut bombs for the day? The Healthier Place to Eat is a restaurant & gluten-free bakery with an organic juice bar and smoothies.
At Butter Cafe in Victor you’ll find real food that’s really good.
Big Hole BBQ in Victor will be one of the best decisions you’ll make all day, every day.
Provisions Local Kitchen in Driggs serves breakfast all day, and has some killer burgers to boot!
A big day in the mountains means you need a big plate of food. Abracadabra’s has you covered in Pocatello.
Local Bike Shops:
East Fork Bikes: The shop has been around since 2012, and it’s full of super helpful and knowledgeable people who are happy to cover your mechanical needs as well as provide you with all of the local trail knowledge you could hope for.
Oregon Trail Bikes: Owned and operated by Adam Artner, he has over a decade of experience as a bike mechanic and is sharing good vibes throughout the Pocatello cycling scene.
Barrie’s Ski and Sport: Large bike Trek and Specialized dealer offering rentals, service, and bike fit.
Fitzgerald’s Bicycles: These guys are a full service bike shop in downtown Victor, Idaho and offer pour over coffee and espresso.
Habitat: A really passionate collective when it comes to exploring and playing in the Tetons who have been operating since 2004.
Peaked Sports: They’re in downtown Driggs and are the most conveniently located shop for access to Targhee’s bike park.
1. Road Trip Stop: Snake River Canyon. If you have the time and if it’s along your route, you really should consider a stop somewhere along the Snake River Canyon. It runs for 50 miles, and has several different places to take it in. Shoshone Falls in particular is a great spot for this. It’s just outside of the city of Twin Falls, and is 212 feet high and 1,000 feet wide.
2. Check out the Museum of Idaho. Located in Idaho Falls, this recently renovated museum features traveling collections as well as exhibits on Idaho’s history. Interactive exhibits are also available by appointment.
Pocatello mountain biking trailsTeton Valley mountain biking trails
Frontier Airlines Stock – Local Flavours: The Complete Guide to Riding in Eastern Idaho