In less than 100 years Chesterfield rose up off of the valley floor into a thriving community, and just as quickly disappeared from the face of the earth. Surrounded by potato fields and open range, Chesterfield, Idaho is a unique look into our past. Now an eclectic collection of abandoned buildings, the state of Idaho is turning Chesterfield into a state park, and has even restored several of the buildings. From Interstate 15, head east on US Highway 30 towards Soda Springs, Idaho. About five miles past Lava Hot Springs, Idaho take the local road to Bancroft, Idaho. Continue for another ten miles north to a town time has forgot, Chesterfield.
Located in the heart of southeastern Idaho, Chesterfield is surrounded by the Caribou National Forest to the west, the Wasatch National Forest to the South, and the Cache National Forest to the east. The Fort Hall Indian Reservation is to the north. Lava Hot Springs State Park, Soda Springs, Fort Hall, Craters Of The Moon National Monument, Massacre Rocks State Park, Bear Lake, Golden Spike National Historic Site, and the Pioneer Scenic Byway are all less than three hours away from Chesterfield. Interstate 15, about 30 miles to the west, is taken by millions of people each year on their way to Yellowstone National Park.
Sprawled out over a large area, several occupied homes are intertwined with the abandoned buildings of the ghost town, so respect no trespassing signs. Several homes, the general store, which like so many small towns was also the post office and telephone office as well as a gas station (the classic pump is still standing outside the store), a restored barn, a church and school are among the buildings you can see. If you have the time you can wander on the gravel roads that crisscross the area and wave to the occasional vehicle that passes by (trust me, they will wave at you).
The restored buildings are locked with the area historical association offering tours. At the publishing of this feature the schedule was very spotty (no one was there when we visited the site) and you should inquire at Bancroft is someone is manning the town. The true ghost town buildings are not locked and can be toured at any time. Keep in mind these are old buildings. Be mindful of birds and insects, and watch your step. Be respectful to others and don't take anything, although this is man made leave no trace ethics of nothing but footprints and photographs should be followed. Keep spaced out so you don't stress the floors, and in some buildings be very sensitive to the condition of the roof.
To the north of Chesterfield is the Portneuf Reservoir. Running along the banks of the reservoir, the original wagon wheel marks from the Oregon trail are still visible in the late afternoon sunlight running as far as the eye can see. In the summer time, the banks of the Portneuf will be surrounded by campers and fishermen taking advantage of the variety of fish stocked by the state. Sites along the bank of the reservoir are on a first come, first serve basis, there are no showers or hookups, and pit toilets are on site. The area can have a lot of mosquitoes so tent campers may have a hard time.