April 2016 – Idaho is loaded with magnificent scenic drives that are wonderful for RV travelers. One of the most lovely is US-93 which runs south-north between Arco (outside Craters of the Moon National Monument) and the Bitterroot Valley in Montana.
Leaving the cute village of Mackay behind us, the snowcapped mountains hovered alongside us as we drove, framing each image out the windows.
At one point we spotted some old log cabins just off the road. Living in our lux-mobile that gives us hot and cold running water at all times, heat, air conditioning and instant access to friends worldwide, it is hard to imagine the rustic and rough life that was lived in these remote parts long ago. I had to get a shot of the “old” and the “new.”
The scenery was lovely, and I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time, eager to see what was around the next bend.
Like the scenic drive we had just done through farm lands and valleys from northern Utah into southeastern Idaho, this route is wonderful for leisurely paced RV travel where you aren’t in too much of a rush to get somewhere. Small towns and villages and scenic pullouts dotted the drive.
As we drove through the town of Challis, we suddenly noticed we’d passed by a sign that said “Brewing Company.” Mark doesn’t turn our buggy around for too many things, but this definitely warranted a U-turn and a second look.
Sure enough, the River of No Return Brewing Company was located in what appeared to be a former house. The place had been open just a few months, but when we tasted their delicious House Brown Ale, we decided a second one was in order. Their beer is good!!
Despite being the only people at the small bar when we first walked in, within a short time the place was full of regulars sampling the latest brew. Then a young gal showed up with a ukelele and began to perform. What a fun place!
The bartender whipped up a yummy organic beef burger for us at the stove behind the bar. As he worked away, we began chatting with him and discovered he’s a full-time RVer who has been living and working in his 1959 Airstream trailer for five and a half years, boondocking and living on solar power the whole time. How cool is that?!
Once we resumed our travels on US-93, we noticed that the very scenic Salmon River had joined us. A look at the map showed it was going to flow alongside us all the way to Salmon, Idaho, and a little beyond that too.
This route goes past lots of open pastures where cattle were grazing. It was spring and this year’s crop of baby calves had just been born. They romped around in the fields and butted heads playfully.
Sometimes they’d stop to get a drink of milk or a snuggle from mom.
Birds were getting ready to raise their broods too, and at one stop we spotted an osprey sitting on his nest. These guys like to have a penthouse view, and they just love the tall poles with platforms that folks put out for them to nest on.
We RVers like to call conventional houses that are built on foundations “stick built homes,” but that description applies just as well to osprey nests!
We weren’t sure if there were eggs or chicks in the nest, but there were two very busy parents flying in and out of their stick-built home.
Osprey are great fishermen, and we loved watching how ospreys and other birds go about fishing while we cruised the Pacific coast of Mexico in our sailboat. Unlike some sea birds like pelicans and boobies, ospreys fish feet first!
After many pretty ups and downs and scenic twists and turns, US-93 delivered us into Salmon, Idaho. We took a walk along the Salmon River and were startled by the beauty of the bridge that spans the river in town as it stood against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.
As I was staring at it, suddenly a truck towing a travel trailer went over it. That completed the scene just right!
Then a kid jumped up on the railing and walked the length of the bridge. Ahh…the fearlessness that kids have!!
It was a perfect spring day, and as we strolled along the riverside path, a family walking their dogs approached. Their little chihuahua puppy came bounding over to see us. He was just eight weeks old, and he bounced along with such joy that his feet didn’t even touch the ground.
Spring was in the air everywhere, and flowering trees opened their blossoms to the sun.
Salmon, Idaho, and the salmon river owe their names to the well traveled fish we love to find on our dinner plate.
Years ago we went to the Salmon Festival that takes place upriver in Stanley, Idaho, every summer. We learned there that salmon come into this world far inland, way upstream, and then, three years later, find their way to the Pacific ocean 900 miles downstream.
Oddly, nowadays, they have to be loaded into trucks and barges and shuttled around the eight Salmon River and Snake River dams that they can’t get through by swimming!
After living in the Pacific Ocean for a year or two, they swim back upstream, navigating by smell to reach their birthplace. Then they create the next generation of fish and perish. What a life!!
Of course, people and osprey aren’t the only ones that think salmon make a tasty meal. A beautiful sculpture in town shows a bear catching his dinner in the river.
This part of Idaho is very beautiful, and a drive along US-93 is well worth doing.
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More info about Challis, Salmon and our route:
- Map of the portion of US-93 in Idaho described in this story
- Challis, Idaho (Chamber of Commerce)
- Salmon, Idaho (Tourism Website)
Related blog posts with similar themes from our RV and sailing travels:
- RVing the Back Roads of Southeast Idaho
- Sawtooth Scenic Byway, Stanley Idaho and Redfish Lake
- Idaho’s Mesa Falls Scenic Byway
- Go Fish! Some wild ways that sea birds catch dinner
- Links to all of our RV travel blog posts from Idaho
Scenic Drives for RV Touring in Idaho:
- An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall 09/10/16
- A Backcountry RV Roadtrip in SE Idaho – Quiet Splendor! 05/04/16
- Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, ID – Pretty Waterfalls 07/25/12
- Sawtooth Scenic Byway and Stanley, Idaho – Picturesque! 08/28/09
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