If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Where do potatoes come from?”, the answer is most likely Ashton, Idaho. Despite being at a heavily-traveled crossroads near Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, this tiny town maintains the feeling of a farm town, with a quaint downtown and lots of elevators lined up along the railroad tracks.
Ashton is located along US Highway 20, about an hour’s drive south of the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It’s also located at the southern end of the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (Idaho 47) and the northern end of the scenic route to Tetonia, Driggs, and eventually Jackson, Wyoming.
I had spent a beautiful, yet frustrating, day in Yellowstone National Park, fighting crowds of visitors and passing rain showers. When I couldn’t take any more of it, I decided to call it a day, and head towards a motel somewhere near Idaho Falls. But, by the time I reached Ashton, Idaho, the weather and my mood were improving, so I decided to walk around for a few minutes.
Ashton is not a big town, by any means. But, when you’ve just made the long drive out of Yellowstone, across miles and miles of empty land, Ashton feels pretty big. There is a downtown district that stretches for a few blocks — you can see it in the Drivelapse video below.
I found Ashton’s elevators to be the most interesting attraction.
Dozens of silos and sheds are lined up along the railroad tracks, which run directly through town.
After having a look around for a few minutes, I had to make a decision. Would I head on to my motel and call it a day? After a day full of clouds and rain, the weather was far too nice for that. I knew I had another option.
I needed to head towards those mountains, looming on the horizon. With any luck, this side of the Tetons would light up magically as the sun sets. And with some more luck, I’d be able to find a good place to photograph them. So, that’s where I headed — towards the Tetons.
Here’s a look at the drive from West Yellowstone to Ashton, Idaho, on US 20…
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… and from Ashton towards the Tetons, as I searched for a good sunset:
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The Bottom Line
Ashton might be nothing more than the place where you make the turn towards Jackson or fill up with gas before heading into Yellowstone. But it’s also an interesting small town that’s worth a visit if you have the time. And, it’s a good jumping-off point for exploring the western side of the Tetons.