A Perfect Weekend in Pocatello, Idaho

Enjoy the great outdoors around "Poky." In-town lures include antique stores and unusual museums.

A woman tries on a hat in the Vain & Vintage store in Pocatello, Idaho
Browse Vain & Vintage for housewares and clothes from the past.
Nicole Morgenthau

Once a gateway for fur trappers and gold miners heading west, “Poky” today lures powder hounds and fans of vintage treasure to the state’s southeast corner.

Sights and Events in Pocatello

Gawk at more than 500,000 natural and cultural objects Idaho Museum of Natural History. See the massive bones of Bison latifrons, which stood eight feet at the shoulder, and the giant sloth, which used its sickle-shaped claws to snag leaves.

Celebrate the art of neatness at the 75,000-square-foot Museum of Clean, home to a spotless collection of antique vacuum cleaners, ornate chamber pots, and other quirky implements.

For a glimpse of the storied railroad town’s past, stroll the historic Old Town Pocatello district and appreciate the area’s numerous “ghost signs” advertising defunct businesses as they cling to the century-old buildings. On First Fridays, many businesses open their doors for an evening of refreshments and local art.

Dustpans inside the Museum of Clean.
The Museum of Clean.
Nicole Morgenthau

Outdoor Activities

During mild winters, mountain and wide-tire bike riders roam the approximately 50-mile network of hiking and riding trails dotted with bridges, all within Pocatello’s city limits, on the City Creek Management Area Trail System

Along with classic and skate-style cross-country ski trails, the East Fork Mink Creek Nordic Center features separate snowshoe trail and a 30-foot warming yurt that doubles as an overnight rental. Wildlife lovers will enjoy touring the relatively flat Creekside Loop, where they’ll have chances to spot beavers, deer, and moose.

Outside of the city, escape winter’s chill in Lava Hot Springs, a resort town that’s home to outdoor rock- and gravel-bottomed geothermal pools connected by heated walkways.

Twenty miles southeast of Pocatello atop Bonneville Peak, the highest point in the Portneuf Range, Pebble Creek Ski Area attracts skiers and boarders with its 1,100 acres of steep terrain.


Where to Eat in Pocatello

Tortilla chips and fresh salsa verde accompany tasty staples such as carnitas tacos, pork tamales, and cheese-draped enchiladas at the low-key El Herradero.

Slinging suds with names such as Grand Teton Juicy IPA and 10 Barrel Pub Beer, Portneuf Valley Brewing also serves salads and handcrafted pizzas. Grab a pint and head upstairs for live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Fans of raw fish will find a selection of sashimi and nigiri at Sumisu Asian Fusion and Sushi, along with teriyaki chicken, steak, or salmon bowls.

Where to Shop

Deal seekers head to Vain & Vintage for the assemblage of treasures, including Pyrex bowls and midcentury frocks.

It’s a pleasure getting lost in the new and used titles at Walrus & Carpenter Books.

This article was first published in February 2016 and last updated in December 2023.