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Articles of Interest

By Donald B. Lindsey, Ph.D. With an introduction by Renee Foster
Introducing the city of Island Park
The city of Island Park, for all other descriptive words, is "unique" in its entirety. It was incorporated in May 1947 to meet a state law requiring businesses that serve or sell alcoholic beverages to be within incorporated towns. The city's government at the time drew up the city's boundaries to include all the businesses from the Last Chance area north to the Montana border that desired licenses to serve and sell alcoholic beverages. All other areas of what is now known as the Island Park Recreational area remained in Fremont County.
Because of this, most of the city's "main street" is U. S. 20, a major highway lined with fine lodges, motels, restaurants, lounges, Cstores, gas stations, tackle shops and recreational vehicle and snowmobile rental businesses. And since 36.8 miles of U. S. 20 are in the city, the city of Island Park proudly boasts that it has the "longest Main Street in America," although its width is 500 to 5,000 feet!
Most people would say Island Park is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, since the park's West Entrance is just 14 miles from the north end of Island Park. But the city government, the Island Park Area Chamber of Commerce, and most residents view Island Park as avacation destination and second home paradise in its own right. The area is known for its wildlife, beautiful mountains, Henry's Lake, the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, the Island Park Reservoir, and many small lakes and streams. Most of the Island Park Recreation Area and several miles of the city are in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The forest is mostly lodgepole pines, with several areas of old growth Douglas fir and spruce trees that are habitat for a variety of songbirds, raptors, large and small mammals, and wildflowers. vacation destination and second home paradise in its own right. The area is known for its wildlife, beautiful mountains, Henry's Lake, the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, the Island Park Reservoir, and many small lakes and streams. Most of the Island Park Recreation Area and several miles of the city are in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The forest is mostly lodgepole pines, with several areas of old growth Douglas fir and spruce trees that are habitat for a variety of songbirds, raptors, large and small mammals, and wildflowers.
The area is known throughout the world for its excellent fishing, hunting, bird watching, photography, boating, camping, hiking, OHV riding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Two state parks are also in this area ? Henry's Lake State Park and Harriman Sate Park, as well as a National Water Trail ? a stretch of the Henry's Fork from Big Springs to Mack's Inn. The Mesa Falls Recreation Area includes a visitor's center in an historic lodge near the Upper Mesa Falls, Lower Mesa Falls, trails, and picnic areas. The Big Springs area is home to the Johnny Sack Cabin and Waterwheel, which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Also in the Island Park area are three historic byways ? the Fort Henry Historic Byway, the Lost Gold Trails Loop, and the Nez Perce Historic Trail, as well as the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has a large holding in and adjacent to the city known as The Flat Ranch, which has a visitor center that hosts educational programs about the area's natural resources. Also of note is that several ranches in the Henry's Lake area are part of a TNC project, known as the Henry's Lake Ranchland Project, that has placed valuable ranchland and riparian habitat in conservation easements to preserve open space from development.
Geology buffs and rockhounds also love Island Park because it lies in an ancient volcanic caldera, with many areas of volcanic rock in clear view. Garnet Hill, a hill in the city near Henry's Lake, is a favorite spot for rockhounds seeking garnets, especially during the spring runoff period.
Island Park is a wonderful place to raise kids, run a business that serves thousands of travelers from all over the world every year, or have a second home to enjoy the outdoors.
Island Park's first human visitors were members of the Shoshone-Bannock and Crow tribes who used the area for summer hunting and fishing excursions. White settlers came here at the turn of the 19th Century to trap. Later settlers raised cattle, dairy cows for cheese factories, grew acres and acres of hay and lettuce, logged, and ran commercial fisheries. Many of the logged trees were fashioned into railroad ties by a culture of hard working men known as "tie hacks." Other endeavors included guiding visitors who wanted to hunt and fish in the area. It wasn't until the roads and railroad lines were built that the area became more accessible.
In 1916 Yellowstone Park roads were opened to automobiles. In 1924, the Henry's Lake Dam was completed, introducing irrigation water storage for lower Snake River Valley farmers. In 1933, the power plant on the Buffalo River, built by the CCC, introduced hydroelectric power to an area that had relied upon gas generators. In 1935, the Island Park Dam was completed.
Tourism and real estate are the two biggest industries in the community today. Some of the most famous fly fishing shops and guides in the world are located in the city and serve fly fishing enthusiasts who enjoy first class fishing on the Henry's Fork and in other streams and lakes. Winter used to be a slow time, but is no longer, thanks to the snowmobiling industry that serves riders who enjoy more than 500 miles of groomed and marked trails in the National Forest.
Trends in architecture during the Depression Era included widespread standardization of materials and construction methods. This corner of Idaho bordering Yellowstone National Park had some of the state's earliest recreational use. The Island Park area, with the development of private fishing resorts, ranch resorts, and summer homes, utilized log construction combined with the rustic, bungalow, colonial revival, and Tudor styles. The rustic style became synonymous with recreation. It made sense for Island Park because logs are readily available in the National Forest, as are rocks used for indoor and exterior trim.
The most recent U. S. Census Bureau report has Island Park listed as having 215 city residents ? however, in 2004, the city logged 239 registered voters. The city estimates that the city's actual population is around 400.
Island Park is a mountain community, with an average elevation of 6700 feet. Residents joke about having only two seasons ? summer and winter. On an average during the winter, the high temperature is 26F, the low is 2.8F, precip. is 10.24, snowfall is 132 inches. Spring high is 48, low is 21, precip. 6.9, snowfall 45.4 inches. Summer high is 79, low is 40, precip. 5.54 inch, snowfall .5. Fall high is 55, low is 25, precip. 5.97 inches, snowfall 32 inches.
Island Park has nine hard liquor licenses and 21 beer and wine licenses. This covers the bars, lodges, restaurants, and convenience stores in the city.
The city's first governing board came into being on May 16, 1947, when the Fremont County Commission appointed a board of trustees for the "Village of Island Park." They were Harvey Schwendiman, chairman; Frank Kuck, Horace Pond, W. L. Fitch, and Fred Rich.
On August 18, 1949, there were 70 registered voters in the village. Fifty-eight cast their vote in this election. The village's first mayor was Harvey Schwendiman, who garnered 57 votes.
Trustees were Frank Kuck, 57 votes; Horace Pond, 55 votes; Chet Ellicott, 51 votes; and W. L. Fitch, 38 votes.
The city of Island Park has had six mayors in its 58 year history. The first mayor was Harvey Schwendiman (1947-1971). Next came Mayor Glen McKay (1971-1994); Mayor Sherri Owens (1994-2000); Mayor Lauri Augustin (2000-2003), Mayor Brad Smith (4 months). The sixth and current mayor is Tom Jewell, who took office in January, 2004.
The Driving Tour
It takes two days or more. Once you reach the first Island Park site noted in this guide, the remainder of the tour covers 122 miles. This includes some backtracking on side trips off U. S. Highway 20. Visiting all the places listed here at a leisurely pace will take the better part of two days. This time will be extended if you stop to hike, bicycle, picnic, fish, or explore any of the side trips mentioned.
A full third day could be added if you drive the 81- mile Fort Henry Historic Byway from Elk Creek Crossroads on U.S. Hwy. 20. A section of this byway is also a segment of the National Nez Perce Trail.
Short version. If your time or interest is limited, you may want to take in only three major sites. These would be visiting the Railroad Ranch at Harriman State Park; seeing the restored Big Falls Inn at the Mesa Falls area; and touring the Johnny Sack Cabin at Big Springs. This shortened tour can be easily accomplished in a day.
Off season considerations
During the late fall and early spring months some of the historic sites in Island Park are not accessible by car or truck due to snowy or muddy road conditions. During the snow months, all sites off U. S. Highway 20 can be easily reached by snowmobile on groomed trails except for the trip to Bishop Mountain. That trail is not groomed. In these instances you are advised to check in person or call about road, trail and weather conditions at the U.S. Forest Service office near Pond's Lodge in Island Park before taking these tours. The number is (208) 558-7301.
Be prepared for sudden thunderstorms accompanied by lightning, hail, and strong winds during the summer season. Falling trees under these conditions are not unusual. Also, be alert for deer, elk, or moose on or near the highways, especially during the early morning hours and evenings. Many a driver has bagged one of these large critters out of season via a road collision. Quite often such mishaps leave car owners hunting for a new vehicle.
Beginning the tour
Driving north from Ashton, Idaho's Visitor's Center on U. S. Hwy. 20, you soon begin climbing what is locallyknown as the "Ashton Hill," and enter the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. After topping the hill, a total of 7.7 miles from Ashton, you reach a turnout marked by a road sign labeled "Caldera Lookout." It reveals some interesting information about the caldera's formation. The spot affords a close look of the caldera.
7.2 miles from this location is a second caldera lookout sign.. "Volcanic Calderas." This sign is located at the turnoff to reach a historical site on Bishop Mountain on North Antelope Flats Road. Bishop Mountain also forms a portion of the west rim of the volcano 12.6 miles from the highway. This is a reasonably well-maintained dirt road that can be traveled at moderate speeds. Motor homes, however, are not recommended for this side trip.
Atop Bishop Mountain is a 72-foot high fire lookout tower that is still used on occasion. The structure was built in 1936 by the U. S. Forest Service with the aid of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that was active during the depression years. A log cabin, garage, and a frame pit toilet sit nearby the tower. The tower is unique in that it was constructed of metal rather than logs. It is the only remaining fire tower of nine that once existed in the Targhee National Forest, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Climbing up into the tower is not permitted.
4 tenths of a mile north of the Bishop Mountain turnoff is another turnout for viewing Swan Lake. A small road sign telling something of this small shallow lake marks this spot. Throughout the warm months, this lake is typically home to nesting trumpeter swans that are easily seen and photographed. Historically, Swan Lake was part of an old ranch, but has since become Forest Service property.
1mile north of Swan Lake is another turnout with a road sign that marks the boundaries of Harriman State Park, site of the historic Railroad Ranch. Once known as the Island Park Land and Cattle Company, American railroad magnate E. H. Harriman purchased the ranch in 1908. A premature death kept him from ever visiting the property. Thus it was left to his son, Averill Harriman, of diplomatic fame and former governor of New York State, to become the first Harriman to visit the ranch the following year.
The property has an interesting history as a working ranch. In addition, it once served as a hunting and fishing retreat for wealthy easterners, mostly railroad executives. Currently on the grounds are two large buildings in the ranch complex that are available for large group rental (15 - 40 people). The cookhouse is available for meal preparation and dining. The Island Park Land and Cattle Company Home Ranch remains standing and well preserved. The ranch grounds are open to the public and interpretive tours of the grounds and buildings are scheduled in the summer and fall. Entrance to the ranch is just north of the turnout marked by the state park sign.
1.1miles north of the entrance to Harriman State Park you reach the junction for the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway that runs eastward 14 miles to the Mesa Falls Recreation Area that is jointly managed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) and the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The area includes Upper Mesa Falls, Lower Mesa Falls, the Big Falls Inn Visitors Center, and walking paths. Admission is charged to the area. The fee includes admission to Harriman State Park. Idaho Parks and Recreation passes and Harriman State Park passes are accepted here.
The late Victorian style Big Falls Inn opened as an interpretive center in 2001. It was built in 1909, but fell into disuse and disrepair from the 1940s until the late 1990s, when the IDPR and the Forest Service partnered to restore it and make it the Big Falls Inn Visitor Center. Visit the Center to see exhibits on the geology of the falls and canyon, the history of the lodge, the river ecosystem, plants and animals of the area, the forest ecosystem, cultural history of the area from prehistoric times to present, and maps of other parks and points of interest in the area.
There are several hiking trails in the area. There is an improved hiking trail from Lower Mesa Falls to Bear Gulch. A moose trail follows the canyon upstream from the upper falls. The old road that runs behind the parking lot is 1 mile out to an overlook of the lower falls and access to fishing. The bicycle trail that is the old railroad bed begins at Warm River Campground and goes clear to Yellowstone. It is a combined ATV/bicycle trail from Bear Gulch north.
Warm River Springs is only 5 miles away from Upper Mesa Falls on the 154 Rd. via the 150 Rd. This branch of the Warm River boils up out of the ground by the old fish hatchery. The hatchery residence is now a Forest Service rental cabin. This is a great place to see moose.
Fishing access to Henry's Fork is provided by Forest Roads 313, 610, 760, 351, 151, & the newly rebuilt Wood Rd. #4. Sheep Falls is upstream from Mesa Falls and can be accessed by either 151 from the east side of the river or 162 from the west side of the river. The 314 road takes off from the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway at Osborne Springs and winds back to the river, as does the Hatchery Ford Road (351). Hatchery Ford is an unimproved dirt road, but it does access the bottom of the river canyon.
2.4 miles north of the Mesa Falls Byway turnoff places you in a business and residential area now called Last Chance. This area marks the southernmost boundary for the city of Island Park. Many years ago this area was called Ripleys where stagecoaches crossed the river. With the demise of the stagecoach and advent of the horseless carriage, this area got its new name because it was the last chance for travelers to buy gas before reaching Ashton. Fuel was served up at a small two-pump service station, and drivers had their choice of either ethyl or regular gasoline.
When was the last time you heard someone say, "fill'er up with ethyl?" The small log service station? more than 50 years old? remains standing on the west side of the highway and is still in use, but for other purposes.
4.9 miles north of this historical site you cross the Buffalo River and reach Pond's Lodge on the west side of the highway. Charles Pond rebuilt this historic log structure in 1936 after a fire destroyed the original facilities in 1935.
Surrounding the lodge are small rustic cabins that have long-accommodated tourists, sportsmen and lumbermen. Currently, this lodge features a restaurant, lounge, store, and a dance hall that is also used for myriad community activities. The store has on display a series of historic comedic calendar art scenes (circa the 1940s). The scenes depict the same befuddled fisherman who is always having trouble landing his catch.
Heading north from Pond's Lodge 7 tenths of a mile, you reach Phillips Loop, which is 1.4 miles long and takes you back to U. S. Hwy. 20. On this loop are two historic sites. One is Phillips Lodge built in 1938. At first, the business was named the Lodgepole Inn, and later the name was changed to Happy Joe's. Now Phillips Lodge is part of a luxury cabin resort called The Pines at Island Park. The owners have named the restaurant portion of the lodge the Lodgepole Grill.
Happy Joe's was a favorite watering hole and recreation spot for construction workers on the Island Park Dam. After Harry and Estelle Phillips purchased the lodge in 1940, it was given its present name. Like a number of old lodges in this area, it too burned to the ground, but this log structure was rebuilt in 1948-49.
Directly across the road from Phillips Lodge is the Elk Creek Ranch. This historic guest ranch was earlier known as the Uden Ranch. The property and its facilities have passed through several hands over the years. In the early days the ranch ran cattle and served as a stagecoach stop for tourists traveling to Yellowstone National Park. The ranch's rustic facilities overlook small, but pretty Elk Creek Lake that offers guests some good fishing.
Returning to U. S. Hwy. 20 by completing the north side of Phillips Loop, you are at Elk Creek Station and the Elk Creek Crossroads? the intersection of U. S. Hwy 20 and the Kilgore-Yale Road (Fremont County A2).
Here you have two options. 1. You can drive to Eagle Ridge Ranch and after visiting the ranch, turn back to U. S. Hwy 20 and proceed with the Island Park area tour. 2. You can drive the Fort Henry Historic Byway that was dedicated in 2002.
Option 1. Head west on Fremont County Road A2 for 6 miles to Eagle Ridge Ranch, the last 2 miles of which is a dirt road that is usually in good condition. At about the 4- mile mark, road A2 curves off to the right, but you should continue straight ahead onto the dirt road where you can see a sign for the ranch. Again continue straight ahead.
The 2,000-acre Eagle Ridge Ranch is both a guest ranch and a working cattle ranch and is open to the public. It was once part of the famous Trude Ranch that was host to such prominent figures as Presidents Hoover and Eisenhower. In addition, many movie stars have stayed there and Wallace Beery stayed often.
The Eagle Ridge Ranch lies on part of the Nez Perce Indian Trail used during their flight from Army troops who were trying to remove them to an unwanted reservation. Dispersed among the newer structures here are several historic buildings. These include a barn, some sleeping quarters and other small outbuildings. Backtrack to U. S. Hwy 20 and skip reading about Option 2. Go to page______ to continue the trip.
Option 2. Fort Henry Historic Byway. The "official" start of the 81-mile Fort Henry Historic Byway is at the Fort Henry Monument on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River south of Parker, Idaho. For the Island Park option, the byway "begins" at Elk Creek Crossroads when you drive onto the Kilgore-Yale Road (County Road A2). Follow this through the Shotgun area and into Clark County (approximately 10 miles), past the Camas Meadows to the to the Red Road. Take the Red Road south, past the St. Anthony Sand Dunes to the Fort Henry Monument. From here, you would head back to Island Park by traveling north on U. S. Hwy. 20 though Ashton. Or, backtrack to Elk Creek Crossroads. Another option is to take the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway from west of Ashton back to U. S. Hwy. 20 in Island Park. The byway is marked with colorful threesided signs. Brochures on this and other Idaho scenic and historic byways are available at area visitor centers and retail stores.
The Kilgore-Yale Road and Red Rock Road segments of the Fort Henry Historic Byway are also a segment of the National Nez Perce Trail. This section commemorates the flight of the Nez Perce through Leadore, Idaho and Island Park, Idaho to West Yellowstone, Montana, in August 1877. Auto Tour brochures interpreting this section of the flight are available at area visitor centers and National Forest offices.
Back on U. S Hwy 20 at Elk Creek Crossroads from option 1 or if you backtracked from Option 2, head north 3.4 miles to the Mack's Inn area. This family resort area is laid out along the south bank of Henry's Fork of the Snake River on both sides of U. S. Hwy. 20. Development began shortly after 1916, when the road through the area was improved to allow relatively safe and comfortable automobile travel.
William H. "Doc" Mack began development of Mack's Inn after vacating another facility catering to hunters, tourists, and anglers. The centerpiece of his development was a large lodge built of logs that gave the area its name ? Mack's Inn. Unfortunately, in 1988 this remarkable building also burned to the ground, the same year of the great Yellowstone fires. What remains are a number of the historic log cabins on the east side of the highway and a two story motel constructed of logs seen on the west side of the highway All of these are still in use.
Upon entering Mack's Inn from the south, one of the first road signs you'll see is one directing attention to Big Springs 4 miles east of the highway on Big Springs Road. This historic place has two notable features that are a must-see if you love wilderness beauty and an extraordinary historical structure.
First, however, 1 tenth of a mile after turning onto Big Springs Road is the Little Chapel In The Pines. Doc Mack built this historic log structure in the 1940s. He generously built the chapel when he learned that people wanted more than just a place to get away from it all. They also wanted to worship on Sundays. The chapel is a nonsectarian enterprise that is committed to providing interfaith services and weddings. It has served Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons over the years.
After leaving the Little Chapel in the Pines and continuing toward Big Springs, you see a sign about 1 mile before reaching Big Springs. The sign directs you to turn left toward a beautiful spot and another interesting historic structure. This spot is the entrance to America's first National Water Trail, designated in 1981. The water trail actually begins at Big Springs, but human intrusion is not allowed until one reaches this point. Here, people are allowed to put in float craft and paddle or drift to the end of the waterway at Mack's Inn.
At this site stands a historic railroad trestle that crosses over the river. It was constructed during the early 1900s when the railroad pushed through Island Park to Yellowstone. Except for the railroad bed, the trestle represents the last major remains of its existence. During winter, crossing this trestle on a snow machine presents an interesting challenge for those who do not approach it with considerable sobriety. The site is 3 tenths of a mile off the highway over a dirt road that is usually passable for most vehicles. There is also a sizeable parking lot and turnaround here.
Upon leaving this site turn left and continue the last mile to Big Springs. Once there you first see the large clear natural springs that serve as a main headwaters for the Henry's Fork (first named the North Fork) of the Snake River. The spring is notable for the vast quantity of water that flows from it and extra large trout that spawn in this area and are easily seen in the clear waters. It is also a family treat to feed these fish and watch them rise to take the food available near the bridge that crosses over the springs.
The second attraction is Johnny Sack's carefully handcrafted cabin and furnishings. Interestingly, Johnny was not a big man, and stood less than five feet tall, so he built the cabin and furnishings to fit his height. Alongside the cabin stands a unique, working water wheel. All are located on the east side of the springs. During the summer months the cabin is open to the public and is managed by the Fremont County Department of Parks and Recreation with help from the Targhee Women's Club and the Island Park Historical Society.
Returning the 4 miles to U. S. Hwy. 20 and heading north from Mack's Inn 1.7 miles, you reach North Big Springs Loop and come in sight of historic Island Park Lodge. It stands on the east side of the highway.
In 1947, business partners, a Mr. Blackington and Pete Piersanti constructed this resort. Piersanti managed the log structure until 1951. Originally, the partners started with a small restaurant and then added living quarters, a saloon and for better or worse, a gambling hall. However, 1951 saw the end of legalized gambling in Idaho. With that, Piersanti sold his share of Island Park Lodge to Blackington. Piersanti then moved to Nevada and helped develop the hotel and casino called Cactus Pete's in Jackpot, Nevada. Since then, the lodge has passed through several hands. Today it still features a restaurant and saloon much as in the old days. As for gambling, well, regulars have to scare up their own private bets on NFL games or the World Series.
6.3 miles north of Island Park Lodge is another turnout. Here a historical road sign stands celebrating the passage through Island Park of Jesuit Catholic Priest, Father Pierre- Jean DeSmet along with 1600 friendly and "peace loving" Flathead Indians. For two days they camped near the shores of Henry's Lake and Father DeSmet held Idaho's first Catholic mass. DeSmet recorded in his diaries that he climbed an estimated 5,000 feet up a nearby mountain as far as he could go and carved a Latin inscription on a rock, signed and dated it July 23, 1840 DeSmet. The inscription read: "Sanctus Ignatius Patronus Montium Die Julii 23, 1840." Despite many searches the rock has yet to be discovered and perhaps never will, especially if the rock was limestone and would not weather the elements. However, the search has not been abandoned by all ?stay tuned.
1.5 miles north of the DeSmet marker you reach U. S. Hwy. 20's junction with Highway 87 that leads west to Dillon, Montana. Turning left you pass by the north shore of Henry's Lake for 1.2 miles and arrive at Targhee Cemetery on the north side of the road overlooking Henry's Lake. The cemetery has served as the final resting place for many early settlers in the Island Park area. The cemetery is on the land known as the Diamond D Salisbury Ranch. The oldest grave marker carries a date of 1899.
Traveling 3.3 miles west from the cemetery you arrive at the entrance to the Wild Rose Ranch situated on the lake's north shore. Development on this property began about 1898 and has continued over the years. The ranch has long served as a fishing resort and lodge that has gained a national reputation for its hospitality and the excellent trout fishing Henry's Lake offers. Several well preserved historic buildings dating back to the turn of the century can be viewed close up on this property. Wild Rose also served as a stage stop before 1909 when stagecoach services gave way to railroad travel. Louis L'Amour wrote one of his famous Western adventure books in one of the cabins.
5 tenths of a mile west of the entrance to Wild Rose Ranch you arrive at a T intersection of Highway 87 and Staley Springs Road. At this intersection is a historical road marker calling attention to this area as the site of the Sawtell Ranch. Gilman Sawtell was Island Park's first white settler. Island Park's most prominent landmark, Mount Sawtelle, was named after him. Or is it just plain Sawtell with no "e" at the end of the name? There is some confusion about the spelling of his name as you look at various signs around the area. The cause lies in one of General Howard's written reports to Washington, D. C. describing the area and its people. He took some literary license and added a French flavor to Sawtell's name. Hence the confusion of signs.
From this intersection, 1.9 miles south on Staley Springs Road you reach Staley Springs Lodge. The springs located at this long time fishing resort help feed Henry's Lake. Staley Springs was once a part of Sawtell's ranch, but in 1896 Ed Staley bought the ranch and the springs area continues to bear his name. Before Staley bought this property, the springs area was known as Sawtell's Fish Farm. Since those days the property has passed through many hands. At this site are a number of historical log cabins that are still in use and a lodge that was rebuilt in the 1940s. The original lodge like others in Island Park burned down during the 1920s. Also here is a very important part of Island Park history- a memorial the people who have worked hard to preserve the lake's fishery over the years.
Upon backtracking to Highway 87's junction with Highway 20 and heading north again for 2 tenths of a mile, you come to another of Island Park's historic lodges, Sunset Lodge, built in the 1940s. At one time, operations were expanded to include a small sawmill that no longer exists. Over the years, this lodge has passed through many owners an dhas been closed and on the market for quite some time. After leaving Sunset Lodge still heading north, you leave Island Park.
In 4 miles on the right there is a pull off for those wishing to stop and picnic at Howard Springs, a Caribou-Targhee National Forest site named after General Howard, who pursued the Nez Perce Indians on their flight to avoid being placed on a reservation. The spring has delicious water and is used as a drinking water source by many area residents. There are picnic tables and handicapped accessible restrooms at this site.
From here, you only have to travel 8.3 miles further to reach West Yellowstone, Montana and the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It is our hope that Island Park has served as an interesting historic gateway to the incomparable historic Yellowstone.