The Oregon Trail

In the midst of inhospitable volcanic badlands, a pair of small towns that grew up along the railroad tracks have somehow survived to the present day. Coming from the west along US-26 from Bliss, the first one you reach is Gooding (pop. 3,509), named for local sheep rancher Frank Gooding, who went from being mayor to Idaho governor to U.S. senator before his death in 1928.

A straight shot east along the tracks brings you to Shoshone (pop. 1,488), another ranching and railroad center with a number of buildings that have been constructed from local volcanic rock. Though it’s a fairly timeworn place, Shoshone looks great at sunset, when its steel water tower glows and places like the neon-signed Manhattan Café (208/886-2142), along the railroad tracks, look especially appealing.

If you’re hungry, thirsty, or low on gas, be sure to fill up here, as services are rare between Shoshone and Arco, 82 miles to the east.