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As the temperatures cool and the leaves start changing, many of us begin looking for beautiful spots to find fall foliage.  US 26 from Idaho Falls heading east to the Wyoming border offers a multitude of stops to see the changing leaves along the way. Here are five must-stop autumn destinations, all in one eastern Idaho road trip.

Stop 1: Cress Creek Nature Trail


The Cress Creek Nature Trail provides a scenic view of the fall foliage around the Snake River and is located just outside of Ririe near Kelly Canyon. There’s a paved sidewalk for the first portion of the trail that makes it easy for the whole family. When the trail turns to gravel and forks, take the path on the right to enjoy views of the Snake River and the cottonwoods. This is also a beautiful spot to catch the sunset over the Snake River. The total trail is about 1¼ miles.

Stop 2: Clark Hill Rest Area

scenic river overlook with fall colors

The Clark Hill Rest Area can be a quick or extended stop depending on how much time you have. It provides a great view of the Snake River lined with vibrant, color changing cottonwoods. The rest area is equipped with restrooms, a family assist restroom, picnic tables, a drinking fountain, vending machines, and even a couple of short nature trails.

Stop 3: Fall Creek Falls

Another stop to enjoy the cottonwoods changing colors is at majestic Fall Creek Falls. It’s a beautiful waterfall overlooking the Snake River with colorful cottonwoods all around. There are no railings by the waterfall, so make sure to watch your step. Once you’re done exploring the waterfall, make a pit stop at the Rainey Creek Country Store to grab a famous square ice cream cone.

Stop 4: Palisades Creek Trail

fall colors surrounding river

The Palisades Creek Nature Trail promises a fun hike with varying shades of color along the scenic creek. The trail takes you to Lower and Upper Palisades Lake as well, but it is several miles to each, so plan accordingly if you want to visit the lakes. You can make the hike as short or long as you want, so once you’re done adventuring, turn back around and head to your vehicle. The hike is in bear country, so make sure to have bear spray and hike with a couple of friends.

Stop 5: Palisades Reservoir

aspen trees with red leaves on the side of a hill

The final spot along this road trip is the Palisades Reservoir, which is the best spot to enjoy fall colors as there are shades of red, orange, and yellow all along the 20-mile drive. There are multiple pull-offs that will allow you to stop and capture or even explore the colorful foliage.

You can definitely do this whole trip in just a few hours if you feel like a weekend adventure is in order.

All photos, including feature image, are credited to Josh Packer.

Josh Packer is a full-time CPA  who is obsessed with landscape photography and  exploring Idaho. He lives in Ammon with his wife and three boys. Find more from Josh on Facebook, Instagram and on the web.

Published on October 21, 2016