Idaho Loop Trip

June 16-22, 2013


Aside from one or two trips to the Coeur d'Alene area and driving I-84 on the way to somewhere else, our time in Idaho has been limited. I see spots on the map that look like they might be intersting, but we never make the time to go see them.

This trip we decided to do a big loop through Idaho and explore some areas.



6/16 - Day One - Home - Lewiston, ID

Despite the usual ferry related stress, we got out of the house at a reasonable hour and ate our breakfast in the car. We stopped at Palouse Falls for a lunch break. It had been so hot there the last time we visited. This time it was about 15 degrees cooler and much more bearable.

We arrived at the hotel in the mid-afternoon and checked in, dropped off some bags and headed back out. We went to Lawapi and the Spalding Site of the Nez Perce Historical Museum. I was disappointed with the museum. I had expected so much more info about the history of the area and less about clothes and crafts of the native people of the area. They also had two of the grumpiest docents on duty. We looked at all the exhibits and wandered the grounds a bit and then headed on towards Winchester.


In Winchester, I had wanted to visit the Wolf Education and Research Center, but they had just closed at 5pm. We did drive out to see if we could see anything. We saw a gate and some woods. :)

Then we doubled back to Winchester Lake and found a nice spot by the lake to relax and have a snack of veggies and hummus. YUM!

Winchester Lake

After Winchester Lake, we went back into Lewiston and grabbed some Sonic for dinner and went back to the hotel.

Dan had to go out and take a picture of Speedee at the McDonald's down the street from the hotel.



6/17 - Day Two - Lewiston - McCall, ID

I wanted to take a side-trip so we could explore the Gold Rush Historic Byway out of Orofino, up to Headquarters, down to Pierce and coming out in Kamiah. I had hoped there would be more informational exhibits and signs, but the scenery was beautiful and we did learn a bit about the area.

Ruby Mae

We stopped at a local place to grab some sandwiches and salads. We took them out to the Heart of the Monster and had our picnic lunch. They had an audio at the end of the trail that told the story of the Coyote and the Monster, which basically was the Creation story for the Nez Perce people. It was very interesting how the geologic anomalies were incorporated in to their lore.

After lunch, we cut over to Cottonwood to visit Dog Bark Park. I had read about them in a dog magazine a long time ago and made a note to stop there and check it out. They make these wood dog carvings of all different kinds of breeds and I knew I wanted a papillon. Unfortunately they were closed when we arrived, but we wandered around the property and took some photos.

Ruby Mae

One of the potential kick off points for future trips is Riggins. Not a lot of hotel options, but they do have a road that goes up into the mountains and views the Seven Devils and Hell's Canyon. I convinced a reluctant Dan to make the drive up the long, dirt road. About 2 miles from the end of the road and LITERALLY at the turn where we'd be able to see peeks of the Seven Devils, we ran into a truck load of guys trying to decide if they would be able to make it through a narrow spot. They were too close to the edge and backed out.

Dan walked up to see if we could fit through as another car with the Canadian version of Geolyn showed up. She was hoping to find a place to park and then walk in to do a 4-5 day loop hike. Although we probably could squeak by, we decided not to try it and began to think about backing out. Dan was not thrilled with this idea and I suggested we could probably work together to do a 100-point turn to get him facing the other way.

Look at these pictures.


No matter how many times I told Dan he had plenty of room to move forward, he wasn't going to roll forward any more. After we got our car turned around, Dan went back to help Canadian Geolyn get her car turned around. At the exact same spot, I heard Dan saying "You have about 18 inches, come forward a little more." and then she'd roll forward about a centimeter and stop. EXACTLY what Dan did when I was directing him. But that was a hell of a cliff. I don't think I could have done it. I was happier standing outside the car.

Huge moon this trip too.

Checked into a lovely Best Western in McCall and had Subway in the hotel room for dinner


6/18 - Day Three - McCall, ID

This morning I drove Dan into town and waited while he rented a mountain bike for a half day. Once he was all set up, Ruby and I went and explored up the side of the lake and beyond into the mountains. I found this great hot springs place that was where old miners used to meet up for a soak. The property has some original cabins! Great vibe, beautiful location, very friendly owners. After that I explored up the other road by the lake and found a wonderful spot by the lake that was really isolated. Wonderful! But it was time to get back to town and meet Dan for lunch.

We stopped at a little cafe where we could get a sandwich and have Ruby outside with us. Everything was organic this or gluten free that. Wasn't what I was expecting out in the boonies. We both had sandwiches. Dan had a beer and I got some kind of natural cola. It was different, not at all like a "coke", but I liked it.

After lunch and a quick shower for Dan, we drove out to Tamarack. What a bust! We didn't feel like it was worth the drive out there in summer. Oh well.

Back in town we decided to drive back up the lake and find a nice spot to hang out and relax for a bit. I wasn't sure how far we'd go up, but I really wanted to show Dan the hot springs. He didn't think he wanted to drive that far, so when I asked if we wanted to stop by the hotel & grab our swimsuits, he passed.

We drove up and after a really long section of slower than natural speed limits, we were off and even the dirt roads were easily driveable and pretty quick. We ended up stopping at the hot springs. Should have brought our suits. The owner said she had some we could borrow, but we moved on.

We found a beautiful shady spot by a meadow to take a break and just enjoy the quiet. Dan walked around with the camera and took a number of photos. Ruby and I were fascinated watching the ground squirrels popping up all over. I had to put her in the travel pen we brought to keep her from running off to chase after some critter.

We also saw these crazy birds. I was walking out to our spot and this bird threw itself into the middle of the "trail" in front of me and did this weird dance. He moved off to the left side of the trail and made all kinds of noise. Then a female swooped past me and started to do her own dance. That was when I noticed that Ruby wasn't watching. She had her eye on this tiny, baby bird. The parents were trying to draw our attention away from their defenseless baby. Good parenting points for you, killdeer parents!

We drove back down into town and I looked on my phone for a special place to eat. The Narrows at Shore Lodge was highly rated but $$$. We decided to splurge. We had a beautiful view of the lake and the more casual restaurant, outside and below us. We ordered a buffalo carpaccio to start. It was very different and yummy! Yay for us stepping outside the comfort zone, food wise.

For our main courses, Dan had a trout. I ordered cute quail stuffed with wild rice. Everything was so very good and fresh and full of flavor. As we ate, the wind started to pick up and we were glad we decided to eat inside. We were watching a big table of women (kind of looked like a bachelorette getaway thing) all in sleeveless dresses. They were all freezing and we were taking bets on how long it would be before they left. One girl did start using her napkin as a jacket just before the rest of them asked to be moved inside. Then the wind came up more and we watched the staff scramble to get all the umbrellas down before they blew away. They only lost one of them for a few seconds. :)


Back to our hotel after a good day.


6/19 - Day Four - McCall - Ketchum, ID

The weather was not really our friend today. :( Today was our day to explore the Sawtooth Mountains and there were lots of clouds and cold wind. We made the best of it.

We found this great hot springs along the side of the road in a little rest area. It looked so inviting until about 10 minutes later when 100 people showed up to get in. :) There were others closer to the river, but they required a bit of a scramble down to get to them.

We had a picnic for lunch at a lovely little lake. I loved the GPS instructions. Nah, I was going to go straight ahead.

I made Dan turn around and go back to this accident to make sure nobody was trapped inside. It was all good, but whew! That looked scary!

We spent some time exploring around in Stanley. I wasn't sure what the lodging situation was there, but now I have a cabin with an amazing view for next time.

We found this Meditation Building and stopped to check it out. It was locked, but there was a sign on the door with a phone number you could call to get it opened up for you. Dan loved that 3 different denominations share this same worship space. What a view from the windows!


We stopped to check out Petite Lake. It was a beautiful spot, but wow was it cold! Brrrr.. the wind was blowing pretty hard and I was worried about the 9,000+ foot pass we still had to cross, so we headed off to Ketchum.

On the way over the pass, it started snowing. It never even almost stuck to the road, but still the flakes in the air were exciting. We arrived safely in Ketchum and checked into our Tyrolean Hotel. It was just a few blocks from the downtown area, but it was across a long parking lot to the ski lifts. That might be nice in the winter, but in summer I felt a bit off the path.

We got in the car to drive to "Sun Valley" to see what was there. Um.. we were there. For whatever reason, whenever we visit a ski place, I expect it to be like so many other places. The city is one place, but the skiing and that resort complex are over there somewhere. So we got to explore around a bit and then we were back downtown.

We parked and took Ruby for a spin around town. It was cool out, but not unpleasant with a fleece on. We window shopped and looked around until we were hungry for dinner. Ruby went back in the car and we slipped into Sushi on 2nd for some dinner.

We were trying to decide why we had never seen trout sushi the night before at The Narrows. Surprise! They had a smoked trout roll on the menu, so we had to order that one. We had a few other things that I neglected to write down, but they were delicious. After dinner we took another stroll around town with Ruby and then back to the hotel for the night.

The hotel had wooden floors, which is great for cleaning a pet room or after ski boots, but it isn't exactly quiet. There was a lot of clumping and clopping around and luggage rolling down the hallway until about 11pm and then it was quiet.


6/20 - Day Five - Ketchum - Jerome, ID

We had breakfast in the hotel this morning and I was kind of disappointed to find only cold, hard boiled eggs available for we protien eaters. I made do with what they had, but would have liked some of the breakfast options we had in McCall.

Heading out of Ketchum, we dropped quickly down out of the mountains and into the warmth again. We were headed for Craters of The Moon.

I had seen it on a map once a long time ago and have really wanted to see what that is like, just from the name alone. But it is WAAAAAAAY out there. Basically it's on the edge of a very, VERY large lava flow. And also, unfortunately, no matter which way you're going, it seems you have to take the long way around. :)

We had a nice stop in the Visitor Center and looked around a bit. Then we went to the first stop and had some lunch in the car. We did a few of the trails, Ruby joined us on the long one, and Dan decided he wanted to climb the cinder cone. I opted out and I enjoyed the view with my knitting project while he scrambled up.

We finished the loop drive (and the side road), but decided to pass up on the caves for another time and instead head out to City of Rocks. You look at it on the map and you think... "Okay, we're here and we want to be there. No problem." But there can be a lot of nothing between two points.

We stopped at a sub sandwich place and one girl who worked there fell in love with Ruby. She saw Dan walking her outside while I waited for our sandwiches and had to run out to say Hello. She's irresistable.

We made it to City of Rocks and found a perfect place for a picnic dinner. We spent a little time there, but people were coming in looking for campsites and we were taking up one that we didn't pay for, so we headed on out and back towards Twin Falls.

We saw lots of babies in the fields and got up close and personal with more than one heard of cattle.

Before getting to our hotel in Jerome, we stopped at Shoshone Falls. I hadn't been there before, but I saw pictures and video at a visitor center on a previous trip. Dan immediately took off with the camera, so Ruby and I just wandered around and she peed on things.

Then we made our way to the hotel. It's the Comfort Inn, but it's pretty new. Nicest one we stayed in this trip.


6/21 - Day Six - Jerome - Ontario, ID

It's funny to stay in hotels so close together, but we had a lot to see this day. If I had this day to do again, I might make some changes, but overall, we enjoyed it all.

Our morning started at the Minidoka Site where the Japanese from Bainbridge Island had been interred during WWII. Dan and I have both visited Manzanar and were disappointed with not finding much there. I was nervous about this place being the same because the "museum" is in a small room at another museum about an hour away. But we were surprised to find a wonderful and informative site.

We parked at the main guard building and we were not planning on walking much, so I just kept my sandals on. We walked around and read a number of signs full of information and stories. At one kiosk, they had an audio program you could start where someone who lived there as a child could share his memories of being there. Before we knew it, we had walked the entire 2 mile loop and it was getting close to lunchtime. What a special find for us, especially given the local connection.



On our way to Malad Gorge for lunch, we saw a cute deli just south of Twin Falls. We stopped and got some yummy sandwiches and side salads to go. I highly recommend this place if you're passing through. They are good people serving good food.

Last year I spent over an hour trying to figure out how you get into Malad Gorge so I could have lunch there on my solo trip. I just kept finding closed gates. I was expecting a park where you could go down into the canyon and see the water, etc. What I wanted to find did not exist. :(

We ate our yummy picnic in the picnic area and then took our time walking around and looking down in the canyon. We got out by the bridge and Dan walked over to the other side to take some photos. I got about 1/3 of the way out onto the bridge and my vertigo said, "No thank you" and I headed back to safety. We headed back down, kind of disappointed with Malad Gorge.

Our next stop was the Hagerman Fossil Bed Museum. This is the museum that has the small Minidoka exhibit. We watched the movie about the fossil beds and looked around the museum. We found the small section about Minidoka and both fell in love with this poem they had in there.

We also somehow BOTH had to tell the poor ranger about our little park on Bainbridge Island. He was very nice to smile and nod both times. Ha ha

Back in the car we decided not to check out the fossil beds as there didn't appear to be too much to actually see (unlike at Dinosaur, UT where you can see the digging) and we went on to Bruneau Dunes. I had decided I wanted to spend some time in this one spot I had seen on a previous trip and do some knitting. Dan said he'd take a walk around. He headed off to climb a dune.

I worked on my knitting project for a while, but then the wind died down and the bugs started to bite so Ruby and I retreated to the car. I turned it around so I could watch Dan on top of the dune. I was trying to send him a telepathic message that he needed to run down at least part of it. He started to walk back down the spine, but then he cut to the left and did a little run. Yay, Dan!

From Bruneau Dunes, we cut over to the (There are no) Birds of Prey Scenic Byway. We didn't see a single bird of prey. POUT But it was a fun drive. We even stopped at this scary general store to run in and see if they had ice cream bars. They had ones from Schwanns. So funny, but a yummy treat.

We did a slight detour into Melba to see Celebration Park. It's a big Native site of gatherings, etc. The book said that there were lots of petroglyphs so Dan was interested and we drove out there.

So.. um...

Dear a-holes:

When you chisel off chunks of boulders to take the petroglyphs home, you sort of ruin things for everyone else.


Yeah, we saw a few, but I think this rock was the best we could find. We saw many more big basaltic rocks with giant cleave marks on the front of them where something used to be. What a bummer.

Now we were tired and it had been a long time since we saw anything interesting. We'd been driving by cows for two days and Dan said he wanted steak for dinner. I got on the cellphone and found Mackey's Irish Pub in Ontario. Cute place. Lots of what you would expect. There was a loud bar downstairs and a dining room upstairs. It's a locals place for sure as everyone seemed to know everyone else.

Once the menu came, I knew I didn't want steak, but their Fish and Chips looked fantastic so I ordered that. Dan got his steak. It was delicious and a wonderful end to a long day of exploring and a cap to the end of our trip.


6/22 - Day Seven - Home

Quick breakfast, tossed everything in the car and hit the road early. We stopped for lunch at Sonic in Kennewick, doing a loop through the area we hadn't seen before.

Our only other non-potty stop was at Hyatt Vineyards. Summer is here and we needed some of that wonderful Black Muscat for sipping in the backyard when it's hot.

I finally got a look at the sculpture that appeared on Blakely Rock too.

We got home at a reasonable hour and still had all day Sunday to recuperate from the vacation before going back to work.


Fun trip! Next one will be somewhere that we can just hang out for a few days and relax. (*cough*Surftides*cough*) So much driving on this trip, but we knew that could be an issue. We sure got to see some great places that I am looking forward to exploring more on future trips.


PS - Dan played a bit with the video function on the new camera. He put together this YouTube Video.