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Geologically, about 500,000 years ago much of what now forms the Island Park area was a large volcano that exploded with extraordinary force.
Mesa Falls Scenic Byway Fort Henry Historic Byway Lost Gold Trails Loop Nez Perce National Historic Trail, Island Park to West Yellowstone Island Park is a unique historical and geological area in north Fremont County, Idaho.Next came the first trappers and traders, followed by explorers, guides, and scouts beginning with the summer of 1810.The first of these was Major Andrew Henry, for whom Henry's Lake is named, and the North Fork of the Snake River that is often referred to as Henry's Fork of the Snake.These openings in the forest were likened to islands where travelers could stop and "park" to rest or otherwise transact their business.The first humans to do this were members of various Native American tribes: the Blackfeet, the Bannock, the Crow, the Flatheads, and bands of the Shoshone Tribe, including the Sheepeater band.This includes some backtracking on side trips off U. This time will be extended if you stop to hike, bicycle, picnic, fish, or explore any of the side trips mentioned. If your time or interest is limited, you may want to take in only three major sites.
A full third day could be added if you drive the 81-mile Fort Henry Historic Byway from Elk Creek Crossroads on U. 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.
Island Park has thus served as an important gateway to Yellowstone since 1872, and significantly helped in opening the park's west entrance.
Today, Island Park still serves as a gateway to Yellowstone and many of its people work in the tourism industry.
Its width, however, is only an average of 500 feet from the center line of the old highway, where most businesses serving spirits exist, plus extensions to the west that reach Staley Springs and to the east that reach Big Springs.
Island Park was named for its many natural clearings, some bounded by water, that appear in this otherwise heavily timbered area.
In addition, other elements of nature helped set the stage for the historical developments of Island Park by humans.