Southern Idaho, June 2020

This is the first blog of our summer 2020 COVID avoidance trip. We were supposed to be in Alaska this summer, but when they cancelled all ferry service between Alaska and the lower 48 (and closed the Canada border), that clearly was not going to happen. Maybe 2021?

After overnighting in a quiet canyon outside of Elko, we spent a night at Crater’s of the Moon National Monument. Worth checking out of you are in the area, but overall I liked Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California better. On the way we stopped at Shoshani Falls, which is definitely worth a detour if you are in the area.

Next on to the South Fork of the Boise River, past Featherville, ID. This is a very popular area for camping and fishing. There are roughly 5 official campgrounds along this road, and literally 100’s of dispersed camping spots, most of which were already full when we arrived on a Friday morning. We did manage to find a really nice spot right next to a swimming hole, and a short bike ride to a Baumgarter Hot Springs, and next to a great trail head. I could only stand to be in the very cold river for about 30 seconds, but we saw many hardy Idahoans in the water for up to 30 minutes. But the hot springs were a perfect 102 deg F. Our camp spot even came with a very friendly skunk who came by to visit 2-3 times / day.

This river is also very popular for trout fishing. From our camp spot we saw many people fishing, and only saw 2 catch anything, both too small to keep. I could never be a fisherman. I just don’t have the patience.

I think Idaho has some of the best camping infrastructure in the US. Really nice campgrounds are $10-15, compared to $25-35 in California, and official free dispersed camping areas are everywhere, often with nearby pit toilets. The National Forest Service even offers free trash, black water, grey water, and fresh water services. In general there is way less litter in the dispersed camping areas than you’ll find elsewhere. Trails are also well maintained and well labeled, at least in the areas we were at. Both the National Forest Service and the BLM just seem better at supporting recreational use than other parts of the country. I wonder why that is?

Next on to Stanley, ID for some of the best hiking anywhere! We met up with some Bay Area friends, who happened to be in the area, and also my brother who lives in Idaho Falls. There are 100’s of great dispersed camping sites south of Stanley along the Salmon River and all the creeks feeding into it. We found a fantastic spot along Alturas Lake Creek near Pettit Lake to use as a base for hiking. We did the 12mile hike to Alice lake, and the 10 mile hike to Sawtooth Lake, both 2000ft of elevation change. Wow!!! Both fantastic hikes with incredible scenery. HIGHLY recommended. Some day I’d love to come back to this area for about 1 month. One could even work from here if you stayed up on Nip’n Tuck Road, which has strong LTE coverage.

Next on to an RV park in Idaho Falls to wait out a big cold front for a couple days before moving on to Wyoming for the next leg.

Photos of week 1 are here.

Photos of the Sawtooth Mountain area (week 2) are here.

Alice Lake
View from gravel road near our camp site.

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