15 Budget Friendly Spring Vacation Destinations
14. Idaho Falls
Idaho Falls is a medium sized town located just 2 hours or so from the West Yellowstone entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The town is frequently referred to as the “Gateway to Yellowstone.” It is the perfect town to stay in while visiting Yellowstone as it is very affordable and offers many hotel options and amenities of its own (it is known for having the most restaurants per capita). Although you could stay in Salt Lake City, at 4+ hours, this is a much longer drive to the entrance. Also, there are several smaller towns closer to the West Yellowstone entrance, however, they do not offer as many amenities and can be a bit pricier due to the limited availability.
A few of the great local amenities in Idaho Falls include a 3 mile greenbelt path around the Snake River, The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, the Idaho Falls Zoo, and the Museum of Idaho.
Budget friendly fun in the area
*Enjoying a drive through Yellowstone – A drive through America’s First National Park should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Here’s your best chance to see all sorts of wildlife in their natural habitat. It is not uncommon to see a bison crossing the road in front of you! Black and grizzly bears are occasionally spotted as well especially during the spring season. Spring is a great time to visit as it is not yet as busy as the summer tourist season. Along the way you can stop for various hikes, check out Old Faithful and other hot springs, take beautiful photos of the mountains, and keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of wildlife.
Bring with a picnic lunch and plan for at least half a day driving through this insanely gorgeous park. Admission is $20 per vehicle, however, if you visit during National Park Week, the entrance fee is waived! Stop by the visitor’s center for tips on the best routes for seeing wildlife. The park is so big – you can’t possibly see it all in one visit! This unspoiled natural wonder is one not to be missed – whether you are up for a hike, bike ride, or just a leisurely half day drive.
*Driving the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway – Mesa Falls Scenic Byway is an incredible drive: 28 miles of forests, streams, mountains, and occasional wildlife sightings. The drive is peaceful and never overly congested. Overlooks of waterfalls and the beautiful Grand Tetons can be found along the route. The Upper Mesa Falls at 114 feet tall and 200 feet wide is quite a sight. Pack a picnic and spend an hour or so marveling at this natural wonder.
*Enjoying outdoor recreation at Harriman State Park – Not to be confused with the NY park with the same name, Idaho’s little gem offers 4 seasons of outdoor fun and events. Summertime hikes and winter cross country skiing are 2 budget friendly adventures not to be missed while vacationing in the area. The beautiful setting here makes any sport all the more enjoyable. This tranquil state park is just 38 miles away from Yellowstone and can be easily incorporated into any Yellowstone trip due to the close proximity.
Other noteworthy side trips include a hike on Rexburg’s “R Mountain,’ a visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument, a journey to Pocatello for more great local hiking, and a visit to Jackson Hole for Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge.