Final thoughts on Idaho

From our campsite at the Beaver Dick Park near Rexburg, we enjoyed a few out and back day trips exploring eastern Idaho.  After spending two months in this state, I’ve come to expect the unexpected.  The land around here is some of the most diverse I’ve ever seen.Idaho

July 2016 – home base was situated among rolling agricultural land.   One of our day drive excursions took us past green and golden fields that were occasionally interrupted by quaint towns, small subdivisions, farms and ranches.  Fifty miles northwest of Idaho Falls, hills of fine white sand loomed in the distance.

Elgin Lake at St. Anthony Sand Dunes

Elgin Lake at St. Anthony Sand Dunes

Talk about a playground fit for any age with a diverse landscape that is extremely intriguing ….. huge sand dunes that are bordered by freshly harvested fields to the south, brush-covered lava plain border the north, and a body of water that sits at its base (Elgin Lake).  Fun recreation abounds!

Boys and there toys!

Boys and their toys!

Ah, but lots of girls get in on the action. Isn't she the cutest? Safety first - helmet and gloves!

Ah, but girls get in on the action too. Isn’t she the cutest? Safety first – helmet and gloves!

These out-of-place sand dunes spill across the Snake River Plain in a wide arc and provide endless OHV adventure (off highway vehicle).  St. Anthony Sand Dunes consists of 10,000 acres of dunes rising 400 feet up and look to be quite the thrill…. check out this video….

I did try talking Al into renting a razor for the day, but alas, one of us needed to be the voice of reason.  So that means, I did not get to experience those amazing sand dunes up close and personal…. sigh.  However, hubby did promise – if we ever find ourselves in this part of Idaho again, we would definitely camp at St. Anthony and rent an OHV.

This Sheriff enjoys his job!

This law enforcement officer enjoys his job!

After getting that promise in writing (LOL), it was time for us to head north to the little town of Ashton.  You see, our daughter’s name is Ashton and I just had to get a photo of Ashtonthe town sign, AND she is definitely my adventurous child. Thus, this sign seemed fitting.

But the town of Ashton wasn’t the only reason for us to head in this direction …… The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.  This thirty mile scenic road meanders through the Targhee National Forest.

The combination of rolling meadows, pine woodland, and views of  rushing water was a visual delight.

The major tourist stop along this route is Upper Mesa Falls.  The Big Falls interpretive center is a great place to learn about the geology and history of the area.

Upper Mesa Falls

Upper Mesa Falls

scenic overlooks

scenic overlooks

From the interpretive center there are several developed trails, allowing visitors to view the falls and rushing water below.

The interpretive center building was charming

The interpretive center building was charming

Upper Mesa Falls is 200 feet wide and drops about 110 feet, and although I found the area to be difficult to photograph, the setting was perfect for a picnic lunch.  While munching away, we Mesa Fallsbreathed in the fresh scent of pine as the sound of rushing water below and singing song birds above serenaded us.

Our picnic table was pleasantly located under the shade of pines near a meadow filled with wildflowers.  Yep, great place to relax and enjoy our lunch .

We did stop at lower Mesa Falls, but the view is from a roadside overlook and the falls are pretty far away.  The view was a bit of a disappointment and almost not worth the stop, but there were some large informative signs that enlightened us on the flora, fauna, wildlife, and geology in the area making it Mesa Fallsworthwhile after all.

Personal opinion ….. Upper Mesa Falls definitely has better views than lower Mesa Falls.  We thoroughly enjoyed this visit.

Other Idaho note worthy sights……

Henry’s Lake just north of Island Park and not far from West Yellowstone offers a state park with camping, but if you don’t mind driving to the other side of the lake, the Bill Frome County Park offers free dry camping.  Donations are appreciatedcampingAl and I had every intention of moving up to this location so we could explore West Yellowstone, but we had some commitments that required us to head east, thus the timing didn’t fit.  Plus, I was starting to miss my beloved Colorado.  We’ll save a stay at Henry’s Lake for another time.

Henry's Lake looked like a great place to park for a while.

Henry’s Lake looked like a beautiful place to camp

If you own an OHV or are into four-wheeling, then you’d fit right in in eastern Idaho.  Island Park was loaded with off-roaders having a great time tooling around the back country, but anglers seemed to enjoy the area equally as well with no shortage of places to test their hook and line.

Ririe Reservoir

Ririe Reservoir

Our last camping spot in Idaho was near the tiny town of Ririe – The Juniper Campground.  We ended up staying here for a couple of nights so we could get caught up on household chores and stock up on supplies in nearby Idaho Falls.  Tidbit – you can call the camp host to make a reservation at the Juniper Campground. If you do, please ask for his recommendation on sites.  The map that’s on their website is out of date and labeled incorrectly.

Juniper Campground - Ririe Reservoir

Juniper Campground – Ririe Reservoir

From what we gathered, the majority of the time a reservation isn’t necessary but does give you the opportunity to secure one of the nicer sites.  Many of the sites are unlevel or sloped which would make setting up a little more challenging for some RV’s.  Therefore, checking with the camp host is a huge advantage.  We thought the Juniper Campground was a gem of a park to stay while exploring this side of Idaho.

The Oregon Trail and Goodale's cutoff

The Oregon Trail and Goodale’s cutoff

On a final note …… I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fascinating history found in Idaho.  Idaho has done a fantastic job with signage; educating us on her past ….. reminders of those far more adventurous than today’s full-timing RVer’s.  While I sit on a leather seat in the comfort of a climate controlled truck, pulling my equally comfy home behind me, complete with refrigerator and toilet (my two most important items), I envision the strength and fortitude it must have taken those pioneers to embark on that western migration via horse and covered wagon navigating the Oregon Trail.Oregon trail

Oregon Trail

Many lost their lives.  Many decided to not travel any further and homestead here instead.  Others came to Idaho seeking riches in mining.  Whatever reason they had to leave behind all that was familiar, I can’t help but admire those that paved the path west.

Mackay Idaho

After spending two months in Idaho, it was time for me to bid farewell to this agriculturediverse and fascinating state.

I hiked a Lava Tube for the first time, laid eyes on one of the most picturesque lakes I’ve ever seen, photographed a carpet of unusual wildflowers growing in the harshest of conditions, experienced the roar of powerful waterfalls, witnessed an extreme sport, and followed the trail blazed by Pioneers.

It was an interesting and fascinating visit filled with fond memories.  Auf Wiedersehen Idaho …. until we meet again!

My blogging friend, Char, wrote “Between Hope & the Highway” while living in Boise, Idaho.  Unfortunately, timing didn’t work for us to meet in person, but I do have a copy of her new book on the way!

                

Visit Idaho

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60 thoughts on “Final thoughts on Idaho

  1. Idaho is simple majestic…drove through it on my honeymoon and it was definitely a place I wanted to return to…one of these days!

  2. What a great write up! So much packed in here! I’m way behind in reading others blogs…and even writing ours….I inadvertently canceled or discontinued all my WordPress emails….but I’m signed back up. So catching up with you!

  3. First time I hear about an OHV (I am familiar with ATV, but OHV looks a bit different) – it looks like lots of fun playing around in the sand dunes with one! I can definitely understand why the girls want in on the fun as well;)

    Your photo from Henry’s Lake look so idyllic. With winter closing on us I’d take a sunny day on a lake side full of flowers any day.

    • I still have a tendency to call them all ATV’s but I’ve been corrected in the past. I guess, not all those toys are created equal πŸ˜†
      I’m sure Henry’s Lake isn’t looking quite as idyllic now as in my photo considering the cold and freezing has arrived there as well.

  4. Wow Ingrid diverse indeed! I had no idea about the sand dunes. That looks like great fun although I think I might wear a bit more than the helmet gloves and bikini. Can you say sand rash?

  5. I do remember driving through it on our honeymoon…beautiful country that made me want to come back again for a longer look.

      • Today I am just getting back to visiting blogs and trying to create a post. Had to head ‘home’ to the east coast for unexpected knee surgery, tore my meniscus in two places. Pain before and after surgery has kept me lying low. It has been a real bummer. We are now in SC in warmer weather while I recoup. I cannot wait to get back outside and walk again, especially with my camera!

        • Oh no… so sorry to hear. Sending well wishes your way and hope we can meet up in Texas this winter for a little bird shooting – shooting with ‘cameras’ that is πŸ™‚

  6. Idaho. Another state I would love to explore especially after your blogs this summer and fall. Whenever we have an RV again, it will be hard to pick a route! Great photographs, as always. How did you create the B&W picture with the red flowers, Ingrid?

    • Idaho is a very unique state and I’m glad we were able to spend a fair amount of time there exploring.
      I still use Picasa for my photo editing on my old laptop. The program is no longer downloadable though. In Picasa, I was able to click on a tool and turn the photo into B&W but leave the color in the flowers. I’m pretty sure there’s a way to do it in Lightroom but takes a little more clicking around. I’m still learning Lightroom which is on my new Laptop.

  7. Enjoy your wonderful photos, best to date. See you were on US 20 and we just back exploring the mountains of western MA and NY and found out that highway is the longest single continuous road from Boston to the Pacific. Long before interstates, mostly 2-lane

    • Thanks. When I realized we would be work camping off US 20 in Idaho, I did a little research considering I grew up off of US 20 but in Illinois. My dad and I shared a good chuckle over that via a phone call… “Hey dad, I’m just down route 20 from you”. I think it would be fun to take US 20 from one end of the country to the other. Hmm, perhaps there’s a RV trip in there somewhere πŸ˜‰

    • Utah is an amazing state and one of my favorites. For me it’s a toss up between Colorado and Utah as to which one is more stunning, but each has their special attributes. Glad I don’t have to pick just one πŸ™‚

  8. Great blog, Im from Ohio and this makes me want to visit Idaho with an ATV and my adventure boots :p PS – Whoever takes the pictures does a fantastic job!

    • Thank you. I do enjoy photography and YES Idaho is an off roaders dream. This was one time I wish we still owned our ATV. The possibilities were all over.

  9. You always do such a great job sharing the beautiful places you visit, and I always want to just pack up our RV and head out to follow your adventures. Idaho is a lovely place!

    • Idahoans love their outdoor recreation and the camping options are abundant. I’ve never encountered such diverse landscape within such short distances. Quite fascinating.

    • Haha, yep had to take a photo of that sign. That adventurous child of mine is the cause of many a gray hair….. and I wouldn’t have it any other way πŸ˜‰

  10. A big thank you Ingrid as you have laid out our summer plans, I meant my summer plans. The trick now is to persuade my honeybunch to steer Betsy to Idaho.
    Perhaps had we been parked next to you we might have done that sand dune ride. I know its fun as we did one in Florence Oregon in 2012.

    • While we were at the sand dunes, I kept bringing up your names. I know for sure had we been camped there together, the guys would be all in for renting a razor and tackling those dunes. Fun, fun, fun!
      Email me if you need any suggestions on Idaho. I look forward to hearing about your 2017 summer plans.

  11. We have friends in Ashton, they love it there. We’ve always liked that area, Mesa Falls is amazing. we boondocked up on that highway a few years ago and it was beautiful. Mosquitos like I’ve never seen before however. There is a great boon dock spot near Henry’s lake that we have stayed at twice now. It’s nice, and close enough to West Yellowstone. Idaho is a pretty diverse state. I just love how RV friendly it is. So much free camping, in some pretty nice places.

    • We were pleasantly surprised with the abundance of boondocking opportunities there are around the state. Idahoans love their outdoor recreation and it shows. Beautiful country and I’m glad we didn’t have too many bugs to deal with, just here and there.

    • Thanks Larry. We were really looking forward to staying at Henry’s Lake and exploring Island Park and West Yellowstone, but a situation required us to head east.

  12. Absolutely beautiful, Ingrid. It’s always the best when us fulltimers are able to grant ourselves the benefit of an extended period of time to really get to know a place.

    • Thanks Jim. Totally agree…. it’s nice to have the time to take in some of the out of the way sights that we might’ve passed up during a shorter stay.

  13. Ingrid, I always enjoy reading about the interesting places you discover. Ten years ago, Red Rock RV Park near Henry’s Lake in Island Park was our home base for exploring Yellowstone and the Tetons. One day we drove from the west entrance of Yellowstone all the way through the park to the Tetons. We returned to the campground on the back roads of Idaho and stopped at Mesa Falls on the way back. When I saw your photo of the falls I knew exactly where you were! Thanks for bringing back good memories of one of our favorite places from our very first RV trip!

    • I’m sure that was one very long day filled with spectacular scenery. Fortunately, we were able to explore much of the same but broken into several days. My camera sure got a good workout πŸ™‚

  14. We need to do some extended exploring in Idaho one day. Love the Upper Mesa Falls photo! Those two rainbows are very cool:) That is a cute photo of the little girl in her bathing suit and that big helmet:) Thanks for the tour of Idaho!

  15. Oh, I love these pictures because they are so familiar. I’ve visited so many of them over the years and love Idaho beauty. Glad you had lots of adventures in Idaho and thanks for sharing the awesome pictures…and thanks for the shoutout. Hope you like the book.

    • I appreciated your recommendations on sights to see in Idaho, especially Redfish Lake…. what a stunner. I enjoyed the visit to your former home state and wish we could’ve met in person. My pleasure on the shout out and I’ll start into your book as soon as I finish Chip and Joanna Gaines Magnolia Story. I seem to be into memoirs lately. So hope you’re working on yours!

      • Redfish is beyond beautiful, isn’t it. I miss that place…also McCall. That was my favorite place to camp because there were so many awesome places to hike and bike and the lake was there and also the cute town to go eat breakfast at if I didn’t feel like cooking over the fire. Someday you’ll have to go that direction.

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