TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

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TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby Admin » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:26 am

Mrs. Admin and I just got back from a week of exploring southern Idaho. And yeah, there's some tangential ski-related content in this post. :lol:

When she got back from Canada a day later than planned, however, I had to make some quick changes to our itinerary. Instead of leaving first thing on the morning of the 8th, we didn't hit the road until she arrived home at 4:30 p.m. so gone was our chance to find a dispersed camping site on a Saturday night in the Sawtooth National Forest near Sun Valley, some 5 hours away. I quickly made a reservation at an RV Park halfway to Sun Valley, scratched plans to visit Craters of the Moon and Bayhorse, and instead opted to spend our second and third nights near Sun Valley. In the end, that worked out for the best as our Sun Valley camp turned out to be the favorite site of this trip for both of us.

So, we rolled into the Village of Trees RV Resort in Declo, Idaho at around 7:30 p.m. Now, I shouldn't have to tell anyone here that I hate camping within sight of neighbors, and "camping" in an RV park deserves to be put in quotation marks. But Village of Trees is on the good side of what a roadside transit stop should be. The staff was friendly and accommodating, to the point where they granted my wish for an end spot closest to the Snake River, where the dogs got to swim adjacent to a boat launch. Mrs. Admin got caught up on laundry from her Canada trip, we had a pull-through site with hookups, and we were back on the road in the morning. It's like pulling into a roadside Motel 6, except that you're pulling your home with you.

After rolling through Ketchum we branched off of ID-75 and headed up FR-146 past the headquarters of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. I was surprised to find many good sites already occupied on a Sunday afternoon, and the further I went up the road the more it deteriorated. High up at 6,800 feet, past the East Fork trail and near the end of the road, we finally found this:

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Honestly, that's as good as it gets! The sound of rushing water, no immediate neighbors (although we got to meet Willie and Sharon from Twin Falls camped a ways downstream), cool temperatures and lots of room for the pups to run. We were happy to spend two nights here.



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On Monday I awoke to find our generator gas can knocked over with a couple of big tooth marks in it.

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I guess that the local bears don't like generator noise. :wink: We drove into Ketchum to pick up a few supplies -- including a new gas can -- and walk around the town a bit. Sitting in the town square, we watched a woman back into a parallel parking spot and hit the car behind her. She pulled forward a couple of feet, got out and walked into the grocery like nothing happened. Three minutes later another woman walks out of the grocery, gets into the car parked in front of the first woman and promptly backs into the first woman's car and takes off. Instant karma!

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A bumble bee works the lupine at camp.

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The ski slopes in the background are Bald Mountain at Sun Valley Resort.

After having some trouble getting out of our campsite on Tuesday morning, thanks to an abrupt transition from flat to steep, we turned north again on ID-75 and crossed Galena Summit to Stanley.

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Looking north from Galena Summit

There we had a reservation in the USFS' Glacier View campground on Redfish Lake. I would've preferred dispersed camping, especially as Glacier View has no hookups, but there is no dispersed camping permissible anywhere near this must-see lake with a jaw-dropping Sawtooth Mountains backdrop.

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Hats off to the Forest Service for creating this off-leash dog beach right at the Glacier View campground. That made campground rules about leashes a bit easier for this campground-hater to swallow.

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Our girls approve.

Wednesday was another day, and another move, this time along ID-21 west from Stanley and through Lowman to the Pine Flat Campground, sandwiched between the Banks-Lowman Road and the South Fork Payette River in the Boise National Forest.

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Our roadside view of the Sawtooths leaving Stanley.

Now, I picked this site for a reason. Nevermind the fact that this Forest Service campground was mostly empty, or that it was surrounded by the scars of a massive recent wildfire. I picked it because a half mile hiking trail leads from the campground to the Pine Flat Hot Springs.

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Free hot tubs and hot showers. :wink:



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Don't enlarge this selfie! Cramming your feet into ski boots for 47 years makes for some pretty ugly feet.

Thursday was another day, so it was time to move again -- this time heading north to the lovely, tasteful resort town of McCall and the well-kept lakeside campground of Ponderosa State Park in the shadow of Brundage Mountain ski area.

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As a guy who spent the summers of his 20s in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, Payette Lake looked, smelled and sounded for all the world like Lake George, but without the latter's cheesy T-shirt shops.

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We actually loved it so much we wanted to stay on an extra night, but Ponderosa State Park was booked solid for the weekend so we stuck to our original plan. We headed south on ID-55 through Boise to our planned "in transit" camp at Bruneau Dunes State Park, south of Mountain Home. Along the way we took a closer look at Tamarack Resort, which is still showing no signs of activity in its half-completed base area.

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Zoe takes a travel break in Banks, at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Payette River.

Bruneau Dunes was empty. There were (count 'em) two other paying guests in the Eagle Cove campground. It probably had something to do with the fact that it was still 102ºF at 8 p.m. Thank God for hookups!

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Wouldn't you know it, my reserved site was smack dab right next to one of the only other two campers there. A quick check with the host and we moved to a far corner of the property for a bit more seclusion.

And today we headed back to Salt Lake City, another great trip creating wonderful memories.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:49 am

admin wrote:Free hot tubs and hot showers.

Those were among the highlights of Middle Fork of the Salmon 4 years ago. Stanley is the staging area for that trip.

admin wrote:dispersed camping site

Adam has concluded that dispersed camping on BLM land is the answer for the upcoming eclipse in Oregon. The closest improved campground he could find was not far outside Portland. Their group of 10 including Ben Solish has tentatively decided to camp on BLM land well east of Madras. Madras itself could have 50,000 people, or more if the weather in the more populous Williamette Valley is not cooperative.

Admin has coincidentally scouted eclipse camping options on his last two one week summer trips. The area along Hwy 26 in eastern Oregon may have the best clear weather odds on the entire path. Stanley in on centerline in Idaho. That's probably not as sunny a location as eastern Oregon but it looked nice enough in this report.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:13 am

As a guy who spent the summers of his 20s in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, Payette Lake looked, smelled and sounded for all the world like Lake George, but without the latter's cheesy T-shirt shops.

Was concerned that you'd make it through an entire TR without a gratuitous jab at the northeast!
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby Admin » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:33 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:
As a guy who spent the summers of his 20s in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, Payette Lake looked, smelled and sounded for all the world like Lake George, but without the latter's cheesy T-shirt shops.

Was concerned that you'd make it through an entire TR without a gratuitous jab at the northeast!


:lol: Not gratuitous because I used to complain about the cheesy T-shirt shops of Lake George when I lived in the area. Love the 'dacks otherwise, including Lake George. The comparison to Lake George had much to do with why I fell in love with McCall and Payette Lake.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby EMSC » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:05 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Adam has concluded that dispersed camping on BLM land is the answer for the upcoming eclipse in Oregon.


While I currently have a hotel room booked in Cheyenne, still an hour south of the eclipse, I am hoping to figure out a BLM dispersed site much closer or actually in the eclipse line. Been hard to scout anything out this summer though, even online. Too many biz trips, etc.. to get the time to focus on that.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:54 pm

EMSC wrote:While I currently have a hotel room booked in Cheyenne, still an hour south of the eclipse, I am hoping to figure out a BLM dispersed site much closer or actually in the eclipse line.
If you get up in wee hours in Cheyenne you should be OK finding a decent spot on the path. I do think I-25 south back towards Denver will be a cluster in the immediate hours after the eclipse. Recall that I-15 in Utah was bad heading from southern Utah back to SLC after the annular eclipse in May 2012.

So I think chilling in a dispersed campsite for the rest of eclipse day is a great idea. That's Adam's plan, because the three 2-lane roads (Hwy 26 toward Mt. Hood/Portland and Hwy 97 both north and south) out of Madras, Oregon also rate to be a big mess right after the eclipse.

We will be staying put in Teton Village after the eclipse, including eating in for an Iron Blosam type group dinner, to avoid traffic and crowd issues.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby lono » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:34 pm

I'm starting to get a little bit of interest in this eclipse thing.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby Admin » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:49 pm

lono wrote:I'm starting to get a little bit of interest in this eclipse thing.


And I'm starting to think that...

Tony Crocker wrote:. I do think I-25 south back towards Denver will be a cluster in the immediate hours after the eclipse. Recall that I-15 in Utah was bad heading from southern Utah back to SLC after the annular eclipse in May 2012.


... is just one more reason to sit at home and watch a time lapse on YouTube.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:10 pm

Admin wrote:
lono wrote:I'm starting to get a little bit of interest in this eclipse thing.


And I'm starting to think that...

Tony Crocker wrote:. I do think I-25 south back towards Denver will be a cluster in the immediate hours after the eclipse. Recall that I-15 in Utah was bad heading from southern Utah back to SLC after the annular eclipse in May 2012.


... is just one more reason to sit at home and watch a time lapse on YouTube.


That's like saying watching a ski porn film is the same as skiing a powder day yourself. Actually worse, because there is only one more total solar eclipse in the continental US before 2044, and 4/8/2024 is less convenient and more problematic for weather for westerners. People do exert a lot of effort in terms of traffic and inconvenience for powder days, of which we get a few even in crappy years like 2014-15.

There are ways to do this minimizing cost and crowd issues, and no one is better situated than admin with his new toy plus extensive experience in dispersed BLM camping.
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As far as Lono is concerned, he lives in sparsely populated Montana, so driving to/from the path in Wyoming or Idaho rates to be far less busy than driving from the south.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby Admin » Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:18 pm

Our gas can-munching bear got in trouble with the feds: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/stat ... 64223.html
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby EMSC » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:23 am

Tony Crocker wrote:
EMSC wrote:While I currently have a hotel room booked in Cheyenne, still an hour south of the eclipse, I am hoping to figure out a BLM dispersed site much closer or actually in the eclipse line.
If you get up in wee hours in Cheyenne you should be OK finding a decent spot on the path. I do think I-25 south back towards Denver will be a cluster in the immediate hours after the eclipse.


Not sure about the wee hours part, but definitely get out on the road on the early side of things. The only reason I booked a room in Cheyenne is to put me 90 minutes ahead of the Denver hordes day tripping the whole way (as my back-up plan at least in case I can't pull off camping). I sit in Paris at the moment which is kinda nice I guess (already my 2nd trip this summer to here), but have zero days camping this summer due to travel and other commitments, so that kinda stinks. I'm home for all of 6 days before I'm on my next series of planes scattered over ~10 days though. Not an easy, relaxing summer for me.
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Re: TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Postby berkshireskier » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:08 pm

Admin wrote:
lono wrote:I'm starting to get a little bit of interest in this eclipse thing.


And I'm starting to think that...

Tony Crocker wrote:. I do think I-25 south back towards Denver will be a cluster in the immediate hours after the eclipse. Recall that I-15 in Utah was bad heading from southern Utah back to SLC after the annular eclipse in May 2012.


... is just one more reason to sit at home and watch a time lapse on YouTube.


Agree with you here! Not to diss anyone who is "into" eclipses........BUT they never seemed like that big a deal to me. Yea, the moon blocks the sun for a few minutes and it turns dark during the day, and then the sun re-appears and the light comes back and it's over! I certainly wouldn't spend money and travel any great distance to see one (especially if I had already seen one). Plus, no way to tell with advance planning IF it will be clear where you plan to observe the eclipse. Just my two cents on the topic.
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