From Yellowstone I headed as far west as I’ve gone in the van so far, into Idaho for a few more days. My first foray into the Gem State earlier on had been stunning and I was excited to go see more and maybe even eat a potato. Okay, spoiler alert, but I did not eat a potato. I did try to visit the potato museum and eat ice cream in the shape of a baked potato, but it was closed on the day I was nearby. I am happy to report that I purchased a raw potato and finally cooked it in the campfire embers in Montana the other night, so it kind of counts?
Anyway, I took off and made my way to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, which takes you through fields of hardened lava, to extinct volcanic cones, and so much crazy looking scenery. It was incredibly windy and hot. I walked up to the top of one old volcano and thought I might blow over, but just got super stylish hair. There were splatter cones, too, and one was so deep that there is ice in there still. There are lava tube caves but they were closed off, but I think I get the picture. This landscape is bizarre- the astronauts came here in the 60s to train for the moon. Amazing! Along the way the flat horizon occasionally popped up with a butte here and there, but otherwise just flat, windy, and lava rocks.
North from the land of lava I entered the Sawtooth range and Sun Valley area. Like the name says, these peaks really do resemble a saw blade. The range towers over the river valley, and I stopped for the night outside the town of Ketchum, where I got take out after doing a visit to Hemingway’s memorial and gravesite. After touring his home in Key West this seemed like a fitting town to stop in, plus beautiful scenery! I got a nice campsite up in the hills not far from a natural hot spring, which I soaked in for a very long time the following day. A relaxing way to start the day which ended up being overtaken by tire problems, but that’s another story.
My next destination was Redfish Lake near Stanley, which was totally hopping with boaters, swimming families, and those happy to sit in the sun or by the lodge bar and grill. I did a small hike around by the lake until I found a less populated area with a little beach to hang out by for the afternoon. I overcame the chill and went swimming for a bit, lay in the sun, read, had lunch, and enjoyed the beautiful view. If I’d planned better I would have arrived early, rented a kayak and explored more of the expansive lake area only accessible by boat or foot, but alas I’d been lazy that morning doing housekeeping and chatting on FaceTime in a rare moment of good service.
Following the Salmon River up through the valley, I was treated to lovely views, changing from the more dramatic Sawtooths to the hills and more canyon0like views further north in the Salmon-Challis forest. After one more night in Idaho, I stopped in Salmon for a decent bagel, a little history lesson in the town park exhibit (mainly focusing on industry and atrocities committed upon the Native Americans), and a view of a weird owl full of arrows adorning a main street shop… no idea. Just weird.
Good times, Idaho! Whenever I get back west I plan to stop at the areas further north and south from Washington and Utah, but for now I feel like I saw some of the best of the state.