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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lesser known but absolutely beautiful

When something is located near a world renown site it can easily get over looked.  That is the case with the Mesa Falls in Idaho.  Just 50 miles southwest from the west entrance to Yellowstone lies two awesome waterfalls, the Upper Mesa Falls and the Lower Mesa Falls.

The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (ID 47) is a 29 mile road that runs east of US 20 and connects with US 20 at both ends,  Ashton, ID on the south end and  9 miles south of Island Park, ID on the north end.  The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway also intersects the Teton Scenic Byway just east of Ashton and both are great roads to ride.

The Henrys Fork River runs through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and is a tributary to the Snake River. The river cuts through the basalt rock and surrounding landscape to create two eye-popping waterfalls.

We took US 20 from West Yellowstone to Island Park where we stopped for breakfast at Pond's Lodge in Island Park.  The restaurant/gas station is a nice establishment with friendly service.  The log siding building is charming and it has sportsman decor.  More importantly they served a great breakfast.
 The trophies on the wall watch over the customers
Huckleberry Pancakes

My son and I enjoyed huckleberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, and hash browns.  These were our first huckleberry pancakes and they were delicious.  The eggs and hash browns were great.  All the others in the group left with full stomachs, so I guess you can say we were satisfied.

Heading south away from Island Park we turned east on ID 47 a.k.a. Mesa Falls Scenic Byway and rode 13 miles to the entrance of the Mesa Falls area.  The road and parking lot are well paved.  There are restrooms, a visitor center, a gift shop, boardwalks and a viewing platforms.  The park is well maintained.  Fees are $1/ motorcycle $5/car.  Access to view the Lower Mesa Falls is from the Grandview Campground.and Overlook.
Upper Falls in the morning sunlight
The Upper Falls is 114 feet high and 300 feet wide (the Upper Yellowstone Falls is 109 feet).  The roar of the falls can be heard long before it is seen.  The morning sunlight and spray from the falls create an impressive rainbow.  The spray creates a lush ecosystem on the side of the canyon below the forest.  The secluded area was peaceful and crowd free.  We saw various birds including an osprey and wildflowers.
We thought this rock at the base of the Upper Falls looked like a bear.
The falls are the last two major undisturbed waterfalls in Idaho.  Most have been used for irrigation or hydroelectric projects.  The pristine wilderness around the falls is a hikers paradise, although grizzly bear are in the area.  There is a one mile hiking trailing from Upper Falls to Lower Falls.  The trailhead is located at Upper Falls between the two parking lots on the east side.
Photo opp!
The river heading toward Lower Falls.
Lower Falls is not as high, but it sure is beautiful.  Notice the hiking trail on the edge of the canyon.
When you are visiting Yellowstone taking some time to visit the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls well be very rewarding not to mention you will encounter a lot less congestion. 

8 comments:

  1. Beautiful, I passed that area recently but had no idea about the falls. Thanks for posting, I guess I will have to go back someday ;-)

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  2. I am not to keen on the prospect of meeting a bear! NOw drinking a beer is a different matter entirely......hahah! How many kms, oops I mean miles have you done now on the new bike. Very nice pictures.

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  3. I like seeing bear from a good distance.

    From April 24th when I picked up the bike until August 17th when the lady hit the bike (see Venture vs Tahoe post) I had 10,000+ miles on the Venture. Check out the September posts and you will see the bike I got after the accident.

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  4. Nice! Thanks for posting this little gem! Definitely looks worth the stop! That's what I like about blogs (and bloggers), we share these lesser known spots that you would never hear about otherwise.

    The pancake looks delish as well. I'm a sucker for good pancakes!

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  5. I've ridden the Teton Scenic Byway, and wrote about it on my Alaska trip Day 26. I didn't get a chance to take the side trips off that route, and hence it didn't seem all that scenic, mostly a bunch of ranch homes, farms and straight roads. But if I went back again, I'd definitely have to do it right.

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  6. Motorcycle Philosophy,
    I have discovered that some of the best places are off those main roads. For the last couple of years I have cut back on the number of locations and tried to spend more time at each place.
    I love your Alaska trip info. I am hoping to do that in 2015.

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  7. Yeah, I'd like to go back to Alaska, but I think the next time I'll take the wife, maybe via cruise ship, because I know she'll love those harbor towns. But I wouldn't mind riding up there again on the motorcycle sometime after that.

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  8. Motorcycle Philosophy - My wife and I have talked about the same idea - My son and I ride up, she would fly up, we would do the cruise, she would fly home, and my son and I would ride home. That is what I am hoping for.

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