Mesa Falls Scenic Byway – Idaho

The good old USA is best seen by car.  Sure, flying is faster.  But there is something extra special taking a road trip across the country stopping along the way.  And, we have great scenic byways throughout the county.  Mesa Falls Scenic Byway in Idaho is one such example.  We stumbled across this little treasure on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Big Sky, Montana.

Mesa Falls Scenic Byway Sign in Idaho
Mesa Falls Scenic Byway Sign

The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway would be easy to miss.  It is a little jaunt off Interstate 20 in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest which is north of Idaho Falls but south of West Yellowstone, MT.  By Interstate, the distance from Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone is 108 miles.  If you take the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, the distance is 119 miles.  So, it is not too far off the beaten path. While you won’t be adding much mileage to your trip, you will want to allow time to stop and enjoy. You can access the Byway (Hwy 47) at Ashton, Idaho.

There are several stops along Mesa Falls Scenic Byway including the Teton Overlook.  Even though the Grand Tetons are nearly 40 miles away, you can still see them off in the distance.

Grand Teton Overlook
The Grand Tetons are visible from the Teton Overlook.

At the Lower Mesa Falls stop, there is a short walk to the Grandview Overlook, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.  Here you see the Snake River drop 65 feet through columns of basalt.

Lower Mesa Falls
Grand Overlook view of Lower Mesa Falls.

The real treat is Upper Mesa Falls.  There is a visitor center at this stop as well as a walk way with overlooks along the river.  The view is spectacular.  I really enjoy how the mist of the waterfall nourishes the greenery along the cliffs opposite the falls.mesa-falls-scenic-byway-idaho1-5-tripmesa-falls-scenic-byway-idaho1-4-tripmesa-falls-scenic-byway-idaho1-6-tripmesa-falls-scenic-byway-idaho1-9-tripUpper Mesa Falls Idaho

The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway is a real gem and should not be missed if you are traveling in the area.  It far exceeded my expectations! It was a great place to stop and stretch our legs and enjoy a picnic while taking in some fabulous views!

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