Oregon Trail Bear Lake Scenic Byway

 

 

Oregon Trail Bear Lake Scenic Byway MarkerSoutheast Idaho, from the Utah border, through Soda Springs and west to McCammon, has been traversed by travelers since before recorded history. First by various tribes of natives on their way to “Po-Ha-Ba,” the healing waters of the hot springs at Lava Hot Springs, later by fur trappers, then emigrants on the Oregon Trail.  The Union Pacific Railroad opened the area to freight and passengers circa 1880, McCammon was a stop on “The Gold Road,” the stagecoach and supply road from Salt Lake City to the gold mines in Montana.
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Bear Lake Portal and Overlook in Fish Haven Idaho 1.  Bear Lake Portal and Overlook
Often called The Caribbean of the Rockies for its intense turquoise blue water. Bear Lake is home to several species of fish found nowhere else in the world, such as the Bonneville Cisco. During pioneer times, Bear Lake was the site of Mountain Men Rendezvous' and fur trading. Year round recreation includes swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, and snowmobiling.  Just north of the Utah line on U.S. 89 at Milepost 2.2.
42° 1'59.23"N, 111°23'49.77"W
Gutzon Borglum Monument 2.  Gutzon Borglum Monument Gutzon Borglum was a prolific American sculptor best know for his presidents' sculptures on Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. Borglum was born in St. Charles, Idaho in 1867. His marble head sculpture of Abraham Lincoln is on display in the Capitol Rotunda. Two stone monuments honoring Borglum are located in St. Charles at Milepost 8 on U.S. 89 between Center Street and 1st North.
 42° 1'59.23"N, 111°23'49.77"W

North Beach at Bear Lake

3.  North Beach State Park - North

North Beach State Park offers over two miles of sandy beach for day use. The park sits on the north end of Bear Lake which is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide. It is a water sports Mecca attracting boaters, water skiers, and beach lovers from all over the country. Anglers can try for a native cutthroat or lake trout in the summer. In the winter, they come back with buckets and nets when the Bonneville Cisco run. 4 miles east of St. Charles. 42° 7'12.31"N, 111°17'48.86"W

Bear Lake State Park 3.  North Beach State Park - East
East Beach, with 966 acres, features a 48-unit campground with water, electricity, and dump station. It also has two group camp areas with electricity, water, shelters, grills, and tables. South of the campground is a large day-use area with three group shelters and 5 acres of grass, drinking water, restrooms, tables, and fire grills. It has about 2.5 miles of beach access. It has a small boat ramp that is usable during high water. 7 miles from North Beach on East Shore Road. 42° 1'44.63"N, 111°15'25.82"W
Minnetonka Cave in St Charles Idaho 4.  Minnetonka Cave
Minnetonka is the largest limestone cave in the state. Located near the town of St. Charles, the cave is a geologic wonder dating back nearly 320 million years. Breathtaking passageways extending more than 2000 feet into the hill side contain nine rooms of fascinating stalactites, stalagmites and banded travertine. Located outside St. Charles on paved St. Charles Canyon Road, which leads 10 miles west up St. Charles Creek to the cave.  42° 5'17.12"N, 111°31'9.79"W
Blue Heron at Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge 5.  Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1968, the wildlife refuge is a major nesting area for Great Basin Canada geese, sandhill cranes, and mallards, pintails, canvasback, and redhead ducks. Other waterfowl include herons, egrets, terns, rails, ibis, bitterns, grebes, avocets, and white pelicans. The refuge’s Mud Lake Unit is a favorite resting area for several thousand ducks and geese each spring and fall.  Photo by Jim Parker.  42°14'12.67"N, 111°21'12.63"W
Turn East from U.S. 89 in Paris onto Second North and travel 2-1/2 miles.
Paris Tabernacle & Historic District in Paris Idaho 6.  Paris Tabernacle & Historic District
Paris has a remarkable architectural legacy. One of which is the Paris Tabernacle, a Romanesque Revival style red sandstone church built between 1884 and 1889. Other significant local buildings include the Paris Hotel, the Pendry Drug, and the Bear Lake Country Courthouse.  Guided tours are conducted daily in the Summer. Milepost 15.8 on U.S. 89, Main Street, Paris. 42°13'32.77"N, 111°24'1.37"W
National Oregon-California Trail Center in Montpelier Idaho 7.  National Oregon-California Trail Center
The National Oregon-California Trail Center is located in Montpelier. The center has on display the "Living History," a dramatic recreation of the pioneers' journey from Missouri to Clover Creek. Located on the actual Clover Creek Encampment site, the center offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience pioneer life as it was more than a hundred years ago. 322 N. 4th Street, Montpelier. 42°19'19.69"N, 111°17'51.37"W
Oregon-California Trail Portal 8.  Oregon-California Trail Portal
Emigrants by the thousands entered present day eastern Idaho at this location traveling along the Oregon-California Trail. Emigrants on the trail encountered Big Hill, thought to be the steepest and longest descent found on the trip west. Wheel ruts are still visible today from the locking of wagon wheels. East of Montpelier at ITD roadside pullouts on U.S. 30 (Milepost 440.1, Milepost 441.7 and Milepost 454.5). N 42 14 09.73, W 111 13 59.27
Georgetown Relief Society Hall 9.  Georgetown Relief Society Hall
This small log and wood frame building over 125 years old, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In Georgetown’s early settlement, it functioned as a local chapel, schoolhouse and general meeting hall. For many years it was a focal point for the female society of this small community.  161 North 3rd West Street, one-half block west of Main Street and U.S. 30 in Georgetown. 42°28'26.90"N, 111°22'15.00"W 
Georgetown Summit Oregon Trail Marker 10.  Georgetown Summit
Over 300,000 emigrants used the Oregon-California Trail between 1840 and 1869. Three ruts are visible at the bottom of the hill, indicating that the wagons and oxen spread out to reduce the dust. The route crossed over this summit heading northwesterly for Soda Springs, and then went on to the Snake River at Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Hall. On U.S. 30, 3 miles north of Georgetown. 42 31.762 N, 111 24.336 W
Soda Springs Oregon Trail Oasis Point of Entry 11. Soda Springs Oregon Trail Oasis (A - I)
This site provides information about the Pioneer Historic Byway, the Oregon Trail  Bear Lake Scenic Byway, things to see and do in the park and other parts of the community, phosphate mining, the Caribou National Forest, and maps of the region.  Located along US 30, in the middle of the block of Corrigan Park. 42.654998, -111.602404
Bear River Overlook 11a.  Bear River Overlook
A spectacular view of the Bear River. Sherman Peak, at an elevation of 9,682 feet, can be seen in the distance. Originating on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains in Utah, Bear River travels 300-miles north into Wyoming and then curves south in a horseshoe through Idaho and back into Utah and the Great Salt Lake. 1 mile northeast of U.S. 30 (Milepost 411.9). 42°34'56.32"N, 111°28'50.37"W
Sulphur Springs near Soda Springs Idaho 11b.  Sulphur Springs
Sulphur Springs was noted in numerous early explorer and emigrant diaries. When the wind is right, the distinct rotten egg odor can still be easily detected along Highway 30 east of town. The cold water and bare ground continues to emit sulphur smelling gas in a bubbling "plip-plop" manner reminiscent of hot pots in Yellowstone Park. Travel one mile east of US 30 on the Sulphur Canyon road to the first road junction. An interpretive sign is one hundred yards east.  42°38'41.18"N, 111°30'23.84"W
Cold-water Captive Geyser in Soda Springs 11c.  Pyramid Springs and Soda Springs Geyser
Soda Springs boasts having the world's only captive geyser. On November 30, 1937 in an attempt to find a hot water source for a local swimming pool, a well driller set free the natural geyser at a depth of 317 feet. It is located on Pyramid Spring, a travertine mound described by Fremont in his 1840s expeditions, along with other area springs. The history of Soda Springs and Caribou County is portrayed on picture boards in the Geyser Park Visitor Center. Historical artifacts and antiques are on display next door at the Enders Hotel Museum. Enter on Main Street & 1st Street South and drive 150 feet west to Geyser Park.
42°39'26.13"N, 111°36'17.32"W
Historic Marker of Brigham Young's Cabin in Soda Springs 11d.   Brigham Young's Cabin
In June 1870, members of the LDS Church residing in the small village of Paris learned that Brigham Young and other LDS Church authorities were planning a trip to Soda Springs. Twenty men under the direction of John Walmsley built a home for President Young. The 18-by-22 foot log cabin had a floor, windows with calico ruffles, and a shingle roof It was a truly fine home for the times. Located on the south side of U.S. 30 between 1st and 2nd East Streets. 42°39'15.84"N, 111°35'59.48"W
Wagon Box Grave in Soda Springs cemetary 11e.   Wagon Box Grave
In the summer of 1861, a family of seven on the way to Oregon was camped in the near the Bear River. Their horses had strayed and the family fell behind the main part of the wagon train to search for them. The family was killed by Indians sometime during the night. Members of the larger party found the bodies the next morning. They were buried together in the box from their wagon. 1st South Street entrance. Next to Geyser Park.
42°39'24.61"N, 111°36'24.07"W.
Camp Connor, Morrisite Settlement, and 1863 Shoshone-Bannock Peace Treaty 11f.  Camp Connor, Morrisite Settlement, and 1863 Shoshone-Bannock Peace Treaty
Camp Connor was one of the first military posts in Idaho Territory for the protection of the overland emigration to Oregon, California.
Morrisites, who followed Joseph Morris, planned a grand reformation of the Mormon Church. They accompanied General Connor and his troops to the Soda Springs area in May of 1863 and started Morristown near Soda Creek.
In late 1863, as a result of the Bear River Massacre and other military actions, General Connor coerced the Shoshone tribes to sign peace treaties at Camp Connor. Go south on 3rd West driving one block off US 30 to the back of the LDS Church parking lot. 42°39'12.15"N, 111°36'52.81"W
Sheep Rock and Hudspeth’s Cutoff 11g.   Sheep Rock and Hudspeth’s Cutoff
Sheep Rock marked the junction of the main route of the Oregon-California Trail and Hudspeth’s Cutoff. Hudspeth’s Cutoff diverged three-quarters of a mile west of here, striking west across the valley. Its route passed over Fish Creek divide, and the Portneuf Range, south of Lava Hot Springs. From Sheep Rock, the main branch of the Oregon-California Trail headed northwest toward Fort Hall. From U.S. 30 at Milepost 399.9, turn south on Soda Point Power Plant Road 1620.  42°39'0.85"N, 111°42'5.08"W
Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts and Trail Markers 11g.   Wagon Ruts and Trail Markers
Oregon Trail Park on the shore of Alexander Reservoir, reveals shallow swale remnants from wagons bound for Oregon and California. Accessible and easily visible from the park entrance road, the trail provokes the memories of those who traveled it.  42°39'31.89"N, 111°39'0.35"W.
Hudspeth’s Cutoff - White fiberglass posts identify the Oregon-California Trail. Turn north the intersection of Idaho 34 and U.S. 30, then turn left through the park-and-ride lot and follow the old asphalt highway.
42°39'4.93"N, 111°43'43.01"W
Volcanic Cinder Cones near Soda Springs Idaho 11h.   Volcanic Cinder Cones
Alexander Crater, a basaltic cinder cone is less than 20,000 years old. In 1843, John C. Fremont described Alexander Crater as “a very perfect crater.” West of Sheep Rock, lava eruptions at least 140,000 years ago first blocked the Bear River from draining into the Snake River system. Between U.S. 30 and Idaho 34.  42°39'17.02"N, 111°44'55.89"W
Historic Chesterfield Townsite in Southeast Idaho 12.  Historic Chesterfield Town Site
Once a growing community on the Oregon Trail, Chesterfield, is now a ghost town. Many of the historic homes and buildings there have been restored and are worth touring. Established in 1879, Chesterfield was a Mormon settlement, and many of the 23 buildings that survive today are evidence of that way of life. The entire site of Chesterfield is now on the National Register of Historic Places. From Hwy 30 north on Old Hwy 30 to Bancroft, then 9.75 miles on Chesterfield Rd. 42°51'54.16"N, 111°54'12.89"W
Lower Portneuf Falls near Lava Hot Springs Idaho 13.  Lower Portneuf Falls
This site offers wildlife viewing, fishing, and (further up the river) kayaking and canoeing. The Portneuf River was named after a mountain man by the name of Portneuf from Peter Skene Ogden’s trapper party. On Old Highway 30 two miles north of U.S. 30. A loop road provides a place to park and a moderate walk on an undeveloped trail to Portneuf River Falls.
42°38'28.02"N, 112° 0'23.11"W
Lava Hot Springs City and Hot Pools 14.  City of Lava Hot Springs
Formerly part of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, the hot springs were sold to U.S. Government, then later ceded to the State of Idaho. Soak in world famous hot pools, or take a dip at the Olympic Swimming Complex. The South Bannock County Historical Center offers a complete history of the area. Explore the nearby Portneuf River for tubing, or take in a wide range of outdoor activities like hiking trails, fishing, hunting, skiing and snowmobiling. Located along Hwy 30. 42°37'10.30"N, 112° 0'25.96"W
McCammon Train Depot 15.   City of McCammon
The Union Pacific Railroad opened the area to freight and passengers circa 1880, McCammon was a stop on “The Gold Road,” the stagecoach and supply road from Salt Lake City to the gold mines in Montana. Gentile Cemetery features the impressive headstones of town founder, H.O. Harkness and his wife. Three-access points from U.S. 30 are Center Street, 12th Street, and Price Road. 42°38'56.41"N, 112°11'25.85"W
Visit the California/Oregon Trail Center Museum for more detailed stories.
National Historic Trails - Along the Snake River Plain Through Idaho - Auto Tour Guide
Idaho Byways page of the Pioneer Historic Byway with interactive map.
Idaho Byways page of the Oregon Trail/Bear Lake Scenic Byway with interactive map.

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