Pocatello is one of the largest cities in eastern Idaho. Its population of 54,000 makes it the fifth largest community in the state.
The main campus of Idaho State University is in Pocatello. ISU enrolls approximately 14,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. It is just one of 98 universities in the country ranked as “Research University-High” by the Carnegie Foundation. Interstate 15 offers residents easy traveling south to Salt Lake City and north to Idaho Falls. Interstate 86 makes it simple to travel westward to Boise.
The city of Pocatello is named after a Shoshone Indian chief that granted a railroad right-of-way through the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. In 1834, a fur trader named Nathaniel Wyeth first established Fort Hall as a trading post. After it was acquired by the Hudson Bay Company, it became an important stop along the Oregon Trail.
Many settlers arrived in 1860 following the discovery of gold in the area. Pocatello became an important stop along the railroad that served early settlers. Later, farmers and ranchers were attracted to the area, and more widespread commercial development followed in the 1880s.
After a severe winter in 1948, the mayor decided to lighten the mood of the community by making it illegal not to smile. The so-called “smile ordinance” remained on the books, and in 1987 the mayor at the time proclaimed Pocatello the “Smile Capital of the U.S.“
West of the city, the American Falls Reservoir offers water lovers endless recreational possibilities, including, boating, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and more. The state stocks the man-made lake with about 8,000 pounds of rainbow trout every year, and some trout to grow to weigh more than five pounds. The reservoir was established in the 1920s when a dam was completed across the Snake River. Anglers also enjoy ice fishing in the winter. Thanks to the fact that the reservoir lies along the Canada-Mexico Flyway, the area is popular with birdwatchers as well.
In the winter, the Pebble Creek Ski Area attracts snow lovers of all kinds. Both skiers and snowboarders enjoy 54 runs scattered over 1000 ski able acres. The base terrain is friendly to novices, while the upper terrain will challenge intermediate and expert skiers. Pebble Creek also offers USAA giant slalom and slalom runs.
Golfers enjoy the two municipal courses in the city. Highland Golf Course stretches to about 6,500 yards from the back tees, while Riverside Golf Course is about 6,300 yards long from the back tees. Both courses are par-72, 18-hole layouts. Highland GC challenges golfers with rolling fairways set amidst mature trees. The small, undulating greens demand real skill with one’s putter. Both layouts are well-established courses that opened over a half-century ago.
Many residents attend theatrical productions and concerts at the Stephens Performing Arts Center at Idaho State University. The state-of-the-art, $34 million facility sits majestically atop Bartz Hill on the ISU campus.
Enjoy animals like mountain lions, bison, elk, black bears, grizzlies and others in naturalized settings at the Pocatello Zoo, established in 1932. The modest-sized but well-maintained facility offers 30 exhibits spread out over 25 acres. The kids enjoy checking out the barnyard animals. Online, it’s possible to check out the “Grizzly Cam.”
Pocatello is a city rich in museums. Perhaps the most unique is the Museum of Clean. The displays feature all manner of artifacts selected to embrace the theme, including antique washing machines and vacuum devices. The museum is appropriately housed in a 75,000 sq-ft, LEED-certified green building. The Bannock County Historical Museum, Idaho Museum Of Natural History and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum are all great places to go on those days when you prefer to stay inside.
In the fall, Swore Farms offer the fun and excitement of a large corn maze. Many residents visit to pick out pumpkins in anticipation of Halloween. It’s a fun place for kids and a fine source of fresh produce for the adults.
The Bannock County Bluegrass Festival comes to the fairgrounds in late August. For over a decade, the festival has brought great local and national acts to Pocatello. Attendees are encouraged to bring along blankets and lawn chairs. Those with acoustic instruments get involved in campsite jams.
Every year Pocatello pays homage to its unique smile ordinance during Smile Days. The event includes a smile contest and those that do not smile are “arrested.”
Old Town Pocatello hosts the Night of 1000 Santas Festival to kick off the holidays. At Old Town Pavilion, residents browse the excellent selection of fresh produce and a variety of baked goods at the Portneuf Valley Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. On Wednesdays in the summer, Old Town hosts Revive at 5. The First Friday Art Walk is another popular event in Old Town. Browse the antique shops and visit a quaint cafe as you take in the ambiance of a bygone era.
Those relocating to Pocatello will find numerous homes for sale at any one time. There are modestly-priced, updated bungalows and ranch homes in the city as well as larger homes featuring newer construction.
Those looking for larger residences will find an assortment of 3-5-bedroom homes, some with more than 3000 sq-ft of living space on spacious lots. Estate-style residences with over 5,000 sg-ft of living space often include amenities like panoramic views, home theaters, gourmet kitchens and three-car garages. For those interested in building their dream home, there are parcels of land offering unforgettable views of the valley and the surrounding mountains.
This is only a brief glimpse at all that Pocatello has to offer. To learn much more about the many recreational activities, cultural attractions and real estate opportunities that attract so many to the community, please contact Gloria Howell. I look forward to speaking with you!