An RV Cruise Along Idaho’s Salmon River on US-93

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.

Scenic drive for RV travel on the Salmon River Idaho

The views never quit on the scenic drive along US-93 in Idaho

Leaving the cute village of Mackay behind us, the snowcapped mountains hovered alongside us as we drove, framing each image out the windows.

Scenic drive for RV travel on the Salmon River Idaho

This is a peaceful road that makes for enjoyable driving.

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.”

Log cabin and fifth wheel trailer RV

A log cabin and our fifth wheel trailer meet at a crossroads between two very different centuries

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.

RV view on Idaho roadtrip colorful tree Idaho landscape

Pretty colors…

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.

RV camping on the Salmon River Idaho

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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?!

River of No Return Brewery Challis Idaho

That House Brown Ale sure is tasty!

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.

RV roadtrip on the Salmon River Idaho

The Salmon River accompanied us for much of the drive.

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.

Idaho ranching scene - calves butt heads

Baby calves played together in the fields

Sometimes they’d stop to get a drink of milk or a snuggle from mom.

Camping sighting of calf licking mom Salmon River Idaho

A mom and her calf.

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!

Seen while camping Osprey in nest Salmon Idaho

An osprey keeps an eye on the world from his stick built house

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 landing in its nest Salmon Idaho

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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!

Osprey feet and talons Salmon Idaho

I wouldn’t want to be a fish looking up at this!

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.

RV roadtrip bridge over Salmon River in Salmon Idaho

The bridge over the Salmon River in Salmon, Idaho

As I was staring at it, suddenly a truck towing a travel trailer went over it. That completed the scene just right!

RV travel trailer on bridge Salmon Idaho

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Then a kid jumped up on the railing and walked the length of the bridge. Ahh…the fearlessness that kids have!!

Kid on Salmon Idaho bridge

A kid’s way to cross a bridge!

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.

Chihuahua puppy running in Salmon Idaho

A happy puppy!

Spring was in the air everywhere, and flowering trees opened their blossoms to the sun.

Spring flower blossoms in Salmon Idaho

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Spring flowers Salmon Idaho

Spring is here!!

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.

RV roadtrip views Salmon Idaho

A sculpture of a bear fishing for salmon is surrounded by colorful flowers.

This part of Idaho is very beautiful, and a drive along US-93 is well worth doing.

RV camping in Idaho

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For us, driving scenic roads like this is one of the best aspects of the RV lifestyle. The next leg of our trip would take us further along US-93 into Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

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9 thoughts on “An RV Cruise Along Idaho’s Salmon River on US-93

  1. Beautiful story and pictures! That shot of the “old” and the “new” really hit me… Puts a lot of our problems in perspective, doesn’t it?

    • It does, and that’s what struck me as I stood there. So often in our travels we peel back the layers of time to view the way life was lived 100, 200 or even 1,000 years ago. We always do it with the bias of our own era, viewing their lives with a degree and type of knowledge they couldn’t possibly imagine as well as with an ignorance about certain things that they would find astonishing.

  2. Traveling the backroads definitely makes for a more interesting journey — one of the many reasons that traveling with our RV is such a joy. Just think of all that you would have missed if you were on the Interstate! (That cool brewery, for one thing!)

  3. Hi guys. I’ve been following your blog for some years and you are getting into my part of the country right now. I would love it if you would care to driveway camp at our small farm on the outskirts of Missoula. I also have places at Thompson Falls and 25 miles north of Polson. Would love it if you could take advantage of one or all of these spots. Come sit on our deck on Flathead with several breweries close by.

    • Wow, what an invitation!!! Thank you so very much. It sounds wonderful! Our travel blog posts are usually 2-4 weeks behind, simply because it takes a while to get through all our photos and digest what we’ve seen. So, we are now in northern Montana heading into Canada to visit the Canadian Rockies. However, we will be coming back south at some point, and if we go through any of those areas (Thompson Falls is a good possibility), we would love to take you up on your offer. Again, thank you!!

  4. Fantastic. Enjoying your travels so much. You guys like the cold a lot more than we do though! Lol. We see snow and can’t get far enough away from it, having spent decades in the Boston area. See you in the warm places! 😉

    • Thanks for following our adventures, Valerie. We do like it hot, and after growing up in Detroit and Boston, we both ran away to the southwestern deserts to thaw out, and we loved living there.

      We loved it so much that we couldn’t tolerate the cold winters in AZ, CA and most of FL when we started RVing full-time, and we bought a sailboat so we could spend our winters in Mexico where it was warmer.

      But after nearly four years of living in bathing suits (cotton t-shirts were too hot in the best places, lol!), we realized we wanted to spend our time photographing beautiful places, and many were in cold country. We realized that our bias towards hot spots was leaving us out in the cold photography-wise!

      So, we bundled up and forced our blood to thicken, and we’re very happy for it. It wasn’t great waking up to 39 degrees INSIDE the trailer the other day in the Canadian Rockies, and then going outside to photograph the sunrise in the dark, but we’ve found the beauty is unsurpassed and worth the shivers!!

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