Sun Valley, Idaho – A Joyful Return to a Favorite RV Spot!

As an escape from the searing summer heat in Washington, we took our RV towards the Rocky Mountains in Idaho. We stopped in McCall, a lakeside town we loved when we visited years ago. However, the heat was crazy there too, so we hustled down the road to one of our all time favorite destinations, Sun Valley, Idaho.

Sun Valley, Idaho - A Joyful Return to a Favorite RV Spot!


Sun Valley is a resort town that literally grew up around Sun Valley Resort. This resort is a skier’s paradise that was built to lure tourists to take the train to the end of a railway line back in the 1930s, a common marketing gimmick among American and Canadian railroad barons of that era. The next door town of Ketchum has a history all its own with roots in silver mining and sheep herding.

For us, Sun Valley / Ketchum has always offered a fabulous mixture of outdoor pursuits in absolutely stunning mountain scenery plus artsy events, some of which are world class, topped off with small town intimacy. We keep coming back and we keep finding new things to savor each time.

Sunset in Sawtooth National Forest Idaho

Sunset in the Sawtooth Mountains.

Sunset in Sawtooth National Forest Idaho 2

Love this!

On our first foray into town, we were shocked by the extraordinary traffic. Every street was jam packed and there was gridlock at some intersections.

Later on, we discovered that a jazz band from New Orleans was in town and they had kicked off an afternoon and evening of music by playing in the town square. Then they walked through the downtown streets while they played until they came to another city park where they set up for the evening show. No wonder traffic was insane!

There was also a lot of construction. Several downtown roads were being resurfaced and a bunch of very fancy looking condo complexes were going up.

Sun Valley Resort itself was as peaceful as always, however, and we walked around taking in the beautiful architecture and landscaping of this iconic place.

Outdoor dining Sun Valley Resort in Idaho

Dining on a flowery patio at Sun Valley Resort.

Flower boxes at Sun Valley Inn in Idaho

Bountiful flower boxes adorn the Sun Valley Inn.

There are paved bike paths everywhere, not just in the resort but all over Sun Valley, Ketchum and even down to the town of Hailey ten miles away. We’ve ridden and loved these bike paths in the past. On this RV trip we noticed that the paths were a lot busier with bikes than in the past because of ease of riding up and down the hills on an e-bike. We saw e-bike rental outfits in several places!

Bike path Sun Valley Idaho

Walkers, joggers and bicyclists love the paved paths in and around Ketchum and Sun Valley, and in a few places the paths go under and over interesting things!

But it was the luscious gardens at every turn and the abundant colorful flowers throughout the resort property that really took our breath away.

Store front flower boxes Sun Valley Idaho

Colorful flower boxes dress up a Sun Valley store window.

Flower beds in Sun Valley Resort in Idaho

Flowers fill every nook and cranny of Sun Valley Resort’s landscaping!

Ketchum and Sun Valley are a special hideaway for the rich and famous, and plenty of A-list celebrities have palatial homes in the area. A quick Zillow search revealed 24 homes for sale for over $5 million in August 2022. Sun Valley and Ketchum have about 5,000 residents. There were two listings for under $400k, but they were under 400 square feet too.

Fortunately, the town is open to visitors of all stripes and the grounds of the resort are too. Families love vacationing here, and we saw some little girls feeding a pair of swans.

Swans and kids at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho

Two swans swim over to say, “Hi.”

The heat we’d been escaping had pursued us all the way to the Sawtooth Mountain Range that surrounds Sun Valley, so we spent the hottest part of one day watching the figure skaters over at the outdoor Sun Valley Ice Rink.

Every weekend during the summertime there is an evening figure skating show at the outdoor skating rink. You can get tickets for regular bleacher seats or enjoy a meal rinkside under a shade canopy. 2022 Olympic Champion Nathan Chen had performed in the show just a few weeks prior. Darn — we just missed it!

Rinkside dining at Sun Valley Ice Skating Rink in Idaho

You can take in a figure skating show while enjoying a tasty meal overlooking the ice!

If you don’t want to spring for show tickets, we were told that if you wander by the outdoor rink around noon when the rinkside restaurant serves lunch, you can catch the pros and coaches practicing (everyday but Sunday). So wander by we did — and there they were.

Skater at Sun Valley Ice Skating Rink in Idaho

We watched some skaters practicing on the outdoor rink.

As we hung out watching the skaters, we started chatting with a woman standing next to us. It turned out that she was a personal assistant for a very wealthy person in town and she was taking a break between errands to watch some skating. She’d been in this line of work since she’d immigrated from eastern Europe several decades ago. I was all ears as I listened to her describe some of her jobs over the years.

“I worked for Calvin Klein for 14 years,” she said at one point.

“You mean the family?”

“No, the man!”

Wow! That’s the kind of thing that pops up in casual conversation in Sun Valley. It’s a rare and rarified place. She loved her work and loved her various bosses over the years. But in how many places can you strike up a conversation with someone standing next to you and discover they’ve been a personal assistant to a big name celebrity?!

On another day, out on a hiking trail, we heard a snippet of conversation where one person was eagerly telling another, “They need a caretaker!” Caretaking of property and wealthy people’s day-to-day living and chores is a common occupation in these parts.

Skater at Sun Valley Resort Ice Skating Rink in Idaho


As our conversation with Mr. Klein’s former assistant drew to a close, I noticed we weren’t the only ones watching the skaters practice. A group of kids watched intently as a pair team glided by doing a beautiful overhead lift.

Kids watch pairs skaters practice at Sun Valley Ice Rink in Sun Valley Resort Idaho

A pair teams cruised by doing a big overhead lift while a group of kids watched in awe.

Not only does Sun Valley have classy outdoor figure skating shows in July and August, they also have a world class orchestra that performs in a gorgeous indoor/outdoor concert hall — for free — a few nights a week from late July to mid-August.

You can sit in the theater seats inside the Sun Valley Pavillion (which was built from the same marble used to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome) or you can sit on the lawn and have a picnic. Huge loudspeakers bring the music from the Pavillion out onto the lawn and a large screen shows video closeups of the musicians as they play!

Sun Valley Symphony Lawn Party at Sun Valley Pavillion in Idaho

The Sun Valley Symphony performs free concerts several nights a week throughout the month of August
A popular place to enjoy the music is on the big grassy lawn next to the Pavilion.

As we wandered through the crowd on the lawn, we saw all kinds of enticing foods being shared among friends and family. This isn’t just a cold chicken and potato salad kind of affair. Fancy dips and crackers and bottles of wine were being passed around on one family blanket after another.

Some folks kept it simple, though, and brought their favorite pizza!

Dinner to go

A different kind of picnic basket!

The theater seating is first-come-first-serve (except for one section that’s reserved for donors), and the Pavillion cash bar and seating opens an hour before the concert begins. On our first concert night, we were surprised that not only the parking but the lawn and theater seats were nearly filled to capacity half an hour before the concert began! Thank goodness for the little Polaris RZR that can tuck into a small parking space!

Flowers at entrance to Sun Valley Pavillion in Idaho

A cascade of flowers pours down the Pavilion’s main entrance stairs.

I have loved Beethoven’s symphonies for all of my life, but after listening to this special concert, his Pastoral Symphony (the 6th) will be forever elevated to the ethereal realm for me.

Sitting in a seat near the top and back of the Pavillion, I had a perfect view of the aspen trees peeking under the canopy rooftop across the way. As the melody soared, the aspen trees began to shimmer and dance, and Beethoven’s vivid depiction of the beautiful sounds he heard on his beloved walks in the woods came to life. The orchestra sounded like one instrument as they played this truly angelic music, and a reverent hush came over the entire crowd both inside the Pavilion and out on the lawn. It was pure magic.

Sun Valley Symphony performs at Sun Valley Pavillion in Idaho

The distant aspens danced as Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony took flight around us.

Brahms is my favorite composer, though, and this summer the Sun Valley Symphony brought in one of the worlds finest pianists, Russian superstar Danil Trifanov. to play Brahms’ first concerto. Just gorgeous!

Danil Trifanov performs with Sun Valley Symphony performs at Sun Valley Pavillion in Idaho

Russian pianist Danil Trifanov gave a passionate performance of the 1st Piano Concerto by Brahms.

Sun Valley is a really musically oriented town, but classical music isn’t their only gig. Besides the jazz band from New Orleans that had brought traffic to a standstill, we also bumped into a fantastic free jazz festival in Forest Service Park. The place was going wild with people dancing to the tunes, kids jumping around, food vendors selling all kinds of goodies, and again, lots of people enjoying a picnic on a blanket in the grass!

It’s also a dog oriented place, and we were astonished at how many trails allowed dogs to be off leash. One of our favorites was the hilly and shady Corral Creek Trail, a perfect spot for a hike on a hot summer afternoon.

Mountain biking Corral Creek Trail Sun Valley Idaho

A mountain biker passed us on the Corral Creek trail.

Happy hikers in Sun Valley Idaho

This shady hike was a favorite for all three of us.

Buddy liked the shade and the soft crushed pine needle trail so much he just quit hiking and laid down for a little breather right in the in the middle of the trail. Another hiker caught him in the act on her cell phone.

Dog friendly Corral Creek Trail Sun Valley Idaho-2

Buddy was caught in the act resting in the middle of the trail!

Another shady trail we loved runs alongside Trail Creek. We did this hike a bunch of times and Buddy made a ton of new friends.

The creek has some nice big gravel beaches where dogs can play in the water or get a drink (this stream comes down from the mountains, so it’s safe). Lots of dogs we met were soaked through, and one dog owner was wet and muddy too!

Dog friendly Trail Creek Trail in Sun Valley Idaho

Hiking alongside Trail Creek is a favorite for both dogs and people.

Pretty wildflowers were blooming here and there.

Summer flowers in Idaho

Lavender smiles.

In many ways, though, just as Sun Valley is an outdoor lover’s and music lover’s and art lover’s paradise, it is a dog’s paradise too.

People we met kept asking us if we’d been to the Dog Park. No, of course we hadn’t been to the Dog Park. Why do that when you have all these wonderful off-leash trails you can hike on together?

Well, we finally went to the Dog Park and we found out WHY all these people had been asking us if we’d been yet.

Ketchum Dog Park or Warm Springs Preserve in Idaho 2

The 65 acre Ketchum Dog Park is like no other!

The whole Sun Valley area is swimming in money, and the residents love to give back to the community. Sun Valley Symphony is but one example of the wealthy folks funding something astronomically expensive and giving it to the residents and visitors for free.

The Ketchum Dog Park is another.

A former golf course, this 65 acre property has an intriguing history that we learned from a real estate appraiser who had lived in Sun Valley since 1969. While his dog played with Buddy, he told me the tale.

Ketchum Dog Park Warm Springs Preserve in Idaho

Wide grassy fields at the Dog Park are beloved by local dogs and lucky visiting dogs too.

Purchased for $13 million way back when, the owner at one time had the parcel up for sale for $50 million. He sold off a few lots at one end for a few mil apiece, but he wanted to do something special for the town since he’d already made more than enough money for himself during his life.

He offered the land to the town for $9 million with the idea that it would be a nature preserve for people, families and their dogs. Unsurprising for a very wealthy town that is full of dog and nature lovers, the $9 million was raised in just two months!

The property was set aside as the Warm Springs Preserve and is now a place where dogs can run free and people can play frisbee golf, have picnics, host family outings and generally relax in the outdoors.

Ketchum Dog Park or Warm Springs Preserve in Idaho 3

Residents of Ketchum / Sun Valley quickly raised the necessary $9 million to create the Warm Springs Preserve (aka Ketchum Dog Park).

There are vast open fields, towering pine trees, several trails, a stream, and lots of really happy dogs.

One thing that we noticed in Ketchum / Sun Valley is that because there are so many places for dogs to be off leash, there are tons of dogs that are very accustomed to being off leash. They behave well with other dogs and, for the most part, they come back to their owners when called.

The friendliness between the dogs and dog owners on the trails and in this park were very heartwarming. We really enjoyed the people we met, and Buddy was in seventh heaven and made all kinds of friends too.

A stream runs through the Ketchum Dog Park, and one day a group we’d joined up with went down to a sandy beach so the dogs could play in the water. These guys knew the territory well. In no time the dogs were lining up to jump into the water from a log! They were just like kids!

Dogs jumping off log at Ketchum Dog Park or Warm Springs Preserve in Idaho 3

The locals know how it’s done — run and leap off the log into the water!

Dogs jumping off log at Ketchum Dog Park or Warm Springs Preserve in Idaho

The dogs went round and round, leaping into the water, swimming to the beach, shaking vigorously, and getting back in line at the log!

Buddy watched all this with wonder in his eyes – as did we! He’s not a swimmer. He loves the water and eagerly wades in up to his armpits, but he doesn’t venture in beyond that!

The Shady Side Trail at Adam’s Gulch was another great spot for a cool stroll in hot weather, as was the Draper Wood River Preserve in nearby Hailey, Idaho. This is the town where Bruce Willis and Demi Moore raised their children and bought all the downtown buildings in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Rather than walking in the shade of tall pines like at Corral Creek Trail, we found ourselves under the delicate leaves of deciduous trees.

Hiking Draper Preserve Trail in Hailey Idaho

The Draper Wood River Preserve in Hailey is another lovely and shady hike.

Again, there were lots of friendly dogs and people. At one point we heard voices and then noticed a group of people floating down the river!

Cooling off at Draper Preserve in Hailey Idaho

When temperatures rise in Sun Valley, this is the best way to cool off!

One of the highlights of this trail is the unusual Bow Bridge that spans the Wood River. Definitely unique and photo-worthy!

Bow Bridge in Draper Preserve Hailey Idaho

The unusual Bow Bridge on the Draper Wood River Preserve trail offers an elegant way to cross the river!

This was our fourth RV trip to Ketchum / Sun Valley, and the area captivated us once again. We not only had a chance to enjoy some of our favorite Sun Valley activities from the past but we discovered a bunch of new ones too!

Sunset over RV in Sawtooth National Forest

Sun Valley is a fabulous destination.

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Bovill, Idaho – An Early 20th Century Classic

Bovill Idaho - An early 20th century classic

This building was a hub of activity and hospitality in its day.

July 2022 – The temperatures in central Washington near Chelan and Entiat had been climbing throughout our visit, and when the highs topped 100, it was time for us to leave! Our choices for cooler temps were to head either to the coast or to the mountains. We decided to scoot across Washington’s farmlands and aim for the tall mountains of Idaho. On our way, we made a brief stop in Coulee City Community Park in Washington.

Marsh at Coulee City Park

Washington’s Coulee City Community Park.

Coulee City Community Park sits on the edge of Banks Lake and is a welcome oasis in an otherwise dry (though irrigated) land.

Coulee City Community Park

The park has lovely views of the Lake.

Kids were playing on a raft in the lake, and the haunting cry of seagulls filled the air. This was such a delight after driving through endless wheat fields!

Raft at Coulee City Park

Cooling off on a hot summer day.

Seagull at Coulee City Park Washington

What a surprise to hear and see seagulls in the middle of wheat field country!

We enjoyed a cool breeze as the sun sank lower in the sky, and we found a campsite on “the island,” a peninsula at one end of the park where we had a wonderful view of the lake under the protective shade of a row of tall trees.

Picnic tables at Coulee City Park Washington

This was a nice place to unwind and cool down at the end of the day.

RV at Coulee City Park Washington

Home for a night.

Over the next few days, we took secondary roads across Washington, jumped on I-90 for a few minutes and then dropped south towards Idaho’s tallest mountains on US-95.

We turned east on the super crazy squirrely Route 5 that goes across the bottom of Chatcolet Lake, and then we suddenly remembered we’d made the same exact mistake of taking this road towing a big fifth wheel trailer 15 years prior, oops! From there, we continued south on Route 3.

These were narrow and winding roads, and although it looked like they might be scenic on the map, they proved not to be particularly so. However, we did come across a small waterfall labeled “PB Waterfall” on Google Maps.

Waterfall in Idaho


As I’ve mentioned before, we travel very slowly, stopping every 30 to 40 miles to stretch our legs, let Buddy run around a bit, and have a look around.

Starting before breakfast one morning, twisty Route 3 brought us to some interesting looking buildings, and we decided to stop for a bite to eat and check them out.

It turned out to be the town of Bovill, Idaho, home to 256 people, and the first thing that caught our eye was the inviting brick Elk Saloon building that had a pretty corner entrance with hanging flower baskets out front.

Elk Salon Bovill Idaho

The Elk Saloon in Bovill, Idaho.

Next to the Elk Saloon was a row of buildings. It was too early for them to be open, but we were intrigued by the old style of the buildings. The blue-gray one on the left was another tavern and the red one on the right had a sign saying, “E.K. Parker 1914.”

Store fronts in Bovill Idaho

Storefronts dating to 1914 in Bovill, Idaho.

There was a big grassy park with a really nice RV dump station that had separate spigots for drinking water and non-potable water. On the opposite side of the lawn we saw the City Hall building.

City Hall in Bovill Idaho

City Hall

Taped to the City Hall door was a small, unsigned, hand-written note: “Not feeling well. At home today.” So any pressing business we might have had with City Hall would have to wait til tomorrow or the next day. We had to smile!

At the edge of the park — which was the edge of town with large fields beyond — there were the remains of a train track switching station. The rest of the tracks had been removed and there was now a gravel path instead. There was something very nostalgic about the tracks and the weeds poking through.

Train tracks in Bovill Idaho

The train tracks had become a gravel trail but this switching station remained.

Train signal Bovill Idaho

Sign of another time.

We were really liking this town. We were the only people out and about at that early hour, so we didn’t have a chance to chat with anyone. But there was something very authentic and homey about the place. We wondered what the history was.

We hadn’t had any internet access for two days, and there appeared to be none for us here, so the mystery of Bovill’s origins would have to wait for later research.

One of the buildings that first made us pull over was across the street from the Elk Saloon: an old Conoco gas station.

Bovill Idaho Elk Tavern and Conoco Inn

The Elk Tavern and the Conoco service station.

As we walked over to it, we marveled at the tiny size of the gas station.

A hand painted sign in the window said, “Welcome to Conoco Inn…Nightly, Weekly, Monthly.” How fun!

Old Conoco Gas Station Bovill Idaho

This is now the Conoco Inn! How did a car ever fit under that awning?

There were flower pots out in front of the gas station, and each one had a homemade fountain made from a beer tap handle!

Tap handle flower pot

What a creative use of old tap handles!

Behind the gas station was an old building with a Conoco sign on it too. The front of the building had huge doors for large vehicles while the back of the building had a smaller man door with another antique sign advertising Conoco products.

This was the real deal.

Old Conoco Service Station Bovill Idaho

Behind the gas station was this Conoco building.

Back of Conoco Service Station in Bovill Idaho

The rear entrance to the Conoco building — friendly service.

We were having a blast taking photos, so we circled around to the brick building again. The sign near the front door said, “Elk Saloon” while the sign on the side door said, “Elk Tavern.” Hmm. Either way, this looked like a really fun place to spend a few late afternoon hours.

Elk Tavern Bovill Idaho

The Elk Tavern has a very inviting front entry!

Elk Tavern Bovill Idaho

The side door called it the “Elk Tavern” and had a painting of an elk!

A sign in the window explained what the Elk Tavern (or Saloon) was all about.

Sign in Elk Tavern Bovill Idaho


High on one wall there was an old Pepsi sign.

Pepsi sign on Elk Tavern building in Bovill Idaho

From another era…

We felt like we were stepping back in time to the 1950s and 60s. An old truck that sported body panels of different colors (from a variety of other trucks, no doubt) caught Mark’s eye.

Old truck

Shades of the Johnny Cash song, One Piece at a Time! (listen here)

Back at the grassy park, we noticed a memorial plaque that honored the Bovill men of the Potlatch Forests who had served in the military and the National Guard.

Honor plaque for veterans from Potlatch Forests Bovill Idaho

A plaque honoring all the military and National Guard members of the community.

Up on a hill, set back from the park, we saw an immense house that was in a serious state of disrepair. It looked like it had been quite a building in its heyday.

Later on, we discovered that Bovill was settled in the early 1900s by Hugh and Charlotte Bovill, English immigrants of aristocratic ancestry who were intrigued by the American West and came to this area to become ranchers.

They were successful in their ranching quest, and their town of Bovill began to attract homesteaders as well as loggers and sportsmen. To serve them, they built and operated the Bovill Hotel which is the oldest building in Bovill today.

And that building turned out to be the huge “house” we had seen on the hill!

Bovill Hotel the oldest building in Bovill Idaho

The Bovill Hotel is the oldest building in town.

Just beyond the Conoco Inn we came across the post office. It dated back to 1914 and still serves Bovill today. We learned that the railroad came to Bovill right around that time too, opening the door to ranching and logging commerce.

Bovill Idaho Post Office built in 1914

The post office building was built in 1914

A little further on, we came across Camas Prairie Winery which is housed in an old historic building. It was still too early for the winery to be open, sigh, so we contented ourselves with looking at it from the outside.

Camas Prairie Wine in Bovill Idaho

Camas Prairie Winery

Happy campers

Mark got all three of us together in this pic!

We couldn’t resist peering in the windows of the winery. And what a delightful interior it was, fully decorated in an antique style. What a great place to savor a glass of wine and ponder the lives and lifestyles of the old American West!

Interior of the Wine Bar in Bovill Idaho

The Wine Bar inside Camas Prairie Winery was a wonderful homage to earlier times.

A little further down the road we came across the old Opera House. Wow! Bovill had an Opera House back in the day! It was built in 1911.

Bovill Opera House built in 1911

In 1911 this building was the new Opera House in Bovill. Imagine the excitement in town!

As we wandered back towards the town park, we couldn’t help but marvel at how completely intact the town remained. So many towns have demolished their historic buildings and quite a bit of their own history along with them.

Later on, we discovered we had just missed Bovill’s annual “Old Timer’s Picnic” by a few days. We also found out that the old original jail house stands next to the City Hall and that the old Catholic Church and old Schoolhouse are worth a peek too. We sure wished we had seen those buildings as well. Oh well, next time!

These few hours of meandering about in a village-sized town that we’d never heard of before were utterly fulfilling. Little glimpses of American history like this (even when we don’t know the full story until later) often give us the most satisfying and memorable highlights in our travels.

Eventually, we got off of twisty Route 3 and onto US-95 which is a major north-south thoroughfare in Idaho. What Route 3 had lacked in scenery was totally made up for in jaw-dropping landscapes on US-95 as we descended from White Bird Summit down fabulous sweeping turns. Fantastically patterned hillsides filled our view and kept our mouths agape the whole way down.

Just before this descent, we stopped at White Bird Summit to take a photo of what proved to be the beginning of these incredible views, and we were joined by a group of motorcyclists. There were many more pullouts on the descent but they aren’t well signed and it’s hard to stop a large toy hauler flying downhill! We breezed past one pullout we didn’t notice until the it was too late that seemed to offer the most dramatic patterns of the whole drive. It was just a few miles south of the summit. I believe that pullout is the White Bird Battlefield Historical Landmark.

White Bird Summit Rest Area Idaho

White Bird Hill Summit. The views got a whole lot better after this!

If you find yourself in this remote part of Idaho, be sure to stop in Bovill. Have a pint of beer for us at the Elk Tavern (Saloon) and sample a little wine for us over at Camas Prairie Winery!

Hmmm… Maybe you should spread those particular pleasures out over a few hours, and/or stay at the Bovill City RV park for the night (ask about it at the City Hall…if they’re open!)!

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Nature’s Capriciousness in Idaho – Streams, Mountains and Storms!

June 2022 – Our western states RV trip delivered us to Idaho right in the heart of the bustling city of Idaho Falls, and even though we had plans for quieter adventures further north in the state, we hung around the city for a while enjoying the River Walk.

Idaho RV trip - Meandering at a slow pace


We savored the scenery each time we strolled the paths, but the only thing our pup, Buddy, ever noticed was the big population of squirrels that scampered up and down the tree trunks.

Puppy looking up into a tree

“Hey! Come back down here!”

The squirrels taunted him mercilessly, chirping at him from safety high up in the branches.

Idaho Falls Squirrel

“You’ll never catch me!”

He wanted to catch a squirrel so badly, but they were just out of reach!

Puppy jumps up tree trunk chasing squirrel

Almost…but not quite!

From Idaho Falls, we wandered northwards towards Salmon for a while, keeping an eye out for an easy-in / easy-out gas station where we could fill the gas tank on the toy hauler (which gives us gas for both the RZR and the generator while we’re camping).

Filling up the toy hauler with gas requires pulling the trailer very far forward at the pumps because the gas cap is at the far back end of the trailer. End-to-end, our truck and trailer combo is about 50 feet long, and not that many gas stations have sufficient open space at the end of the pumps for a vehicle to stick out 50 feet!

Mark looked at a few city gas stations in Idaho Falls and decided they were all a bit too busy and too tight. We’d end up blocking traffic in the whole gas station while we filled up!

Luckily, as we traveled through the countryside, we found a gas station with no other customers, no overhangs to hit with our tall rig, endless room in front of the rig to pull forward, and a cute store to boot.

Fueling up the RV in rural Idaho

Plenty of room to fuel up the toy hauler!

Puppy by the store door in rural Idaho


Inside the store were the usual gas station goodies, but they also had lots of small animal pelts like foxes and an antique sewing machine!

Small animal pelts and an antique sewing machine

Inside the store: Interesting small mammal pelts and an old sewing machine too!

We strolled the back streets of town for a while and spotted a pretty church framed by snow covered mountain peaks. Classic!

St. Joseph's Catholic Church in eastern Idaho

Right out of a picture book!

Later, we played with some of our images of that church and made one look like the photo was taken a long time ago.

Old time church in Idaho

Perhaps this church looked like this way back when…

That was pretty cool, so we did it to another photo of the long defunct “Bit & Spur Grocery Store.”

This is just a matter of applying Sepia tones to the image but the effect is great… Perhaps a little crinkling across the image from the photo being folded and maybe a handwritten note with a date like 1885 would help cement it as an authentic antiquity, although Buddy would have to ditch his harness and I’d need to don a long dress and a hat!

Old time look at a store in rural Idaho

Bit & Spur Groceries!

We carried on with our journey, and as we rolled slowly down the road, we just loved the views. This was ATV / UTV country and we rode around on the RZR looking for photo ops. There were plenty!

ATV riders with mountain backdrop in Idaho

Open country backed by snowcapped mountains – ideal for an ATV / UTV ride!

A rocky creek sparkled in the sunlight.

Rushing water in an Idaho creek with mountains


This was the perfect spot to play with smoothing out the rushing whitewater by keeping the camera shutter open extra long on a tripod (about 1/6 to 1/15 of a second). With moving water like this, you could take a dozen photos of each scene and every one would be different because flowing water makes constantly changing patterns!

Babbling brook with snocapped mountain Idaho


Water rushing in a stream in Idaho mountains


White water stream with mountains in Idaho


When I wrote an article about Idaho for Highways Magazine many years ago, the editor titled it “America’s Alps,” which was very apt because the snowy peaks are certainly reminiscent of their European counterparts! Mark grabbed a plastic stool and his guitar, and as he played for Buddy and me, the scene was right out of the Sound of Music!

Singing sweet songs in America’s Alps.

A crown of soft clouds began to form around a mountain peak, and we fully expected to see Julie Andrews come pirouetting down the hillside, arms flung wide with radiant joy as she sang her heart out.

Snowcapped mountain in Idaho

A mountain peak was suddenly wrapped in a veil of clouds.

Instead of suddenly seeing an ebullient Julie Andrews dancing down the mountainside, we noticed that storm clouds were beginning to fill the sky.

The weather forecast had called for a big storm to come sweeping through with a 70% to 90% chance of rain for two days and a night. We’d already experienced mornings in the 30s and afternoons in the 90s in our short time in Idaho, and one of the locals we met had jokingly told us that Idaho is bipolar when it comes to weather.

Were these clouds the beginning of the expected tempest?

Gathering storm in Idaho

A gathering storm!

We decided to go for a walk, kind of storm chasing in a way, but on foot. Suddenly, Mark said, “Look at that cloud over there!” A huge black cloud was bearing down on the valley and traveling at a good clip. The odd (and beautiful) thing was that the sun was still out in patches here and there.

Storm clouds over river in Idaho

Yikes! Check that out!

We ran for cover, collecting a few shots of the wild skies (and fast puppies) on the way.

Puppy runs at top speed


The wind was whipping like crazy, but there was no rain yet, and the menacing skies changed minute by minute as the clouds unleashed a thick veil of rain and snow on the mountains.

Summer rainstorm in Idaho

A distant tempest.

Storm clouds in the Idaho mountains


The big black cloud began to rumble. Despite its threatening noises, however, there were bits of blue sky and sunshine here and there. Suddenly, a rainbow appeared.

Puppy sees rainbow from RV window

A rainbow!

We ran out again, cameras in hand. All around, the billowing clouds seethed and frothed, from low down on the ground to high up in the sky. It was spectacular — and there wasn’t a drop of rain in the sunny spot where we stood!

Sun lights up storm clouds in Idaho


Storm clouds sweep through Idaho valley


And then, as quickly as this summer storm came, it disappeared down the valley, leaving blue sky and receding clouds in its wake.

Bipolar, indeed!

Sunburst in Idaho storm over river

The storm passes and leaves sunshine and blue skies behind.

Later, as the sun set, memories of the afternoon drama were still visible in the sky. We were treated to shades of orange and black followed by soft tones of peach and gray.

Sunset begins after a storm in Idaho

Vestiges of the afternoon squall.

Idaho sunset seen from an RV


This was one of those beautiful occasions where the adventure came to us. We weren’t out sightseeing or looking to discover new things. Instead, Nature dropped in on us and treated us to a thrilling show of roiling clouds battling with rays of sunshine.

This big “two day” storm blew through in an hour or two and eventually misted us with a fine spray that lasted all of 90 seconds! But the spectacle left us totally wide-eyed with wonder!.

Tail end of summer storm and sunset in Idaho

A faint pink flame crosses the sky.

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Idaho Falls River Walk – A Glorious Garden Stroll by the Snake River!

June 2022 – After venturing down a road that was very much less traveled and winding up in some very remote (and beautiful) farm fields, we arrived in the middle of a bustling and vibrant city: Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The first thing we saw was a fantastic waterfall sculpture of flying eagles right in the center of a roundabout. How cool is that?!

RV trip to Idaho Falls, Idaho - Eagle Rock Fountain


This sculpture is a dramatic work of art from all sides, and we walked all around it to admire it from every perspective.

Eagle Rock Fountain Idaho Falls ID

Eagle Rock Fountain in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Just beyond Eagle Rock Fountain we came across a collection of handsome brick buildings. It felt like a college campus. But these turned out to be office buildings for various professionals. Lucky them to work in such an elegant environment!

Old style office building Idaho Falls, Idaho

What a stately building — and it’s very new!

Beautiful building near the riverwalk in Idaho Falls Idaho

These buildings seemed like they were part of a college campus.

Fancy office building Idaho Falls, Idaho

But the buildings actually house professional offices!

There were lilac bushes in bloom to boot. Ahh…the sweet smell of lilacs. We just love these flowers!


Heavenly lilacs!

On the other side of a large grassy lawn we came upon the Idaho Falls River Walk. This is an absolutely fabulous series of walking paths, trails and manicured terraced gardens that line the banks of the Snake River as it runs through downtown Idaho Falls.

Huge rectangular boulders have been cleverly placed to create walls and benches along the way, and you can stroll on dirt paths and grassy trails.

Grassy terraces on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho

The River Walk on the Snake River in Idaho Falls is a sheer delight.

River walk path between boulders Idaho Falls, Idaho

Terraced gardens and paths line the banks of the Snake River.

What a stunning haven this whole area is for locals and visitors alike where they can get a breath of fresh air and a taste of nature alongside the river, right downtown.

A train bridge in the distance caught Buddy’s eye.

Train Bridge Idaho Falls, Idaho

A train bridge!

There’s a paved bike path that runs for a long ways on both sides of the river too. We followed it through a short tunnel. Fun!

Bike path on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho

A paved bike path welcomes walkers, joggers, cyclists and scooter riders!

Tunnel on the River Walk bike path in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Peeking out the end of the turnnel…

This entire area has been lovingly landscaped. I can’t imagine what it cost the city to transform their river banks into a glorious waterfront, but the end result was worth every penny. Apparently, generous donations keep the greenbelt beautifully maintained and there are plans to expand it as well.

Colorful flowers have been planted all over the place and they were all in bloom.

Flowers on the River Walk Idaho Falls, Idaho

Flower of all shapes and sizes were in bloom

River Walk flowers Idaho Falls, Idaho


Irises on the River Walk Idaho Falls, Idaho


Blooming flowers on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho


While we wandered around, jaws agape, trying to capture the beauty with our cameras, Buddy was transfixed by all the little critters who have taken up residence between the rocks.

Chipmunk chasing on the Idaho River Walk Idaho Falls, Idaho

While we admired the flowers, Buddy had eyes only for the ground squirrels and chipmunks.

There were ground squirrels and chipmunks galore, and his jaw was agape and panting after his gallant efforts to capture those tasty morsels with his fast sprints. They were onto him, though, and they just scampered from burrow to burrow, and then taunted him with chirps from deep among the rocks.

Puppy in the rocks

The little critters in the rocks kept him busy!

Out on the water there was a ferry boat that offers rides up and down the river and some other speed boats too.

Speedboat on the Snake River Idaho Falls, Idaho

Boats went up and down the river.

We were puzzled that his amazing area was almost completely devoid of people on this gorgeous springtime Saturday morning. Where was everyone?

We decided to cross the river to see what was on the other side. There’s a bridge for pedestrians just beyond the train bridge.

Train bridge and park bench on the River Walk bike path in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Behind the train bridge there’s a pedestrian bridge.

From the middle of the bridge we got a dramatic view of the Mormon Temple steeple in the distance. This was the 10th Mormon Temple ever built (the first one built in Idaho) and it was the 8th temple to begin operations. Mormon temples are really impressive and massive buildings.

Mormon Temple steeple Idaho Falls, Idaho

The steeple of the Mormon Temple caught the afternoon sunlight. The figure holding the trumpet on top is the angel Moroni who revealed to Joseph Smith (founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints) in the 1820s where to find the golden tablets that ultimately became the Book of Mormon.

Back in 2014, we did a tour of the newly constructed Mormon Temple in Gilbert, Arizona. Guided tours were offered to the public free of charge for a month prior to the temple beginning operations (no cameras allowed). The line to get in every day was immense!

Gilbert Arizona Mormon Temple Church of Latter-Day Saints

The Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) Temple in Gilbert, Arizona in 2014

Much of the inside was conference rooms, but the massive baptismal font with its theater seating viewing area blew us away.

The temple baptismal font was an enormous tub, much like a small swimming pool, and it was supported underneath by twelve life size oxen arranged in groups of three, each group facing in one of the four compass directions. You could see the oxen statues up close by going to the floor below the font.

As we understood it, the temple baptismal font is used for “proxy baptisms” where a living member of the LDS church undergoes a baptism on behalf of a deceased person (usually a relative) who didn’t have the opportunity to be baptized while they were alive. After this ceremony, the spirit of the deceased person can then decide whether to accept or reject the baptism and the salvation it represents. The twelve oxen beneath the temple baptismal font represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

The temple changing rooms were another surprise. When entering a temple, church members change out of their street clothes and put on white garments that represent purity, thus leaving the dirty outside world behind as they enter these sacred surroundings.

It was a neat tour, but we weren’t headed to the Idaho Falls Mormon temple right now. We wanted to continue savoring this unusual River Walk!

On the far side of the bridge, we saw a wonderful waterfall — the namesake of this town.

Idaho Falls Waterfall on the River Walk in Idaho

Idaho Falls!

Nearby there was a platform area for viewing the river, and a wedding party was gathered on it! Hurray! I love bumping into weddings and wedding photo shoots! There were several adorable flower girls running around in frilly dresses posing for photos.

Flower girls

Flower girls

We discovered we were in the middle of the Japanese Friendship Garden. This is a lovely, lush spot nestled under towering trees and infused with a unique oriental flavor.

Japanese Friendship Garden Idaho Falls, Idaho

There’s a Japanese Friendship Garden on a little rock island in the middle of the Snake River!

Japanese Friendship Garden on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Kids love playing in this special garden, whether in play clothes or dress-up wedding attire!

Japanese Friendship Garden Idaho Falls Idaho


While we meandered through this sweet spot, we noticed an older fellow sitting on a park bench holding a bag overflowing with vegetables.

“Is there a farmer’s market somewhere?” Mark asked

“Right over there!” The man answered, pointing. “It goes on for blocks and blocks. It’s ending in a few minutes, though.”

We rushed over to the place where he was pointing and found an endless row of tent booths on each side of the street. Wow! So THIS was where everyone was hanging out on this beautiful springtime Saturday morning!!

Idaho Falls Farmer's Market Hero's Kitchen

We caught the tail end of the huge farmer’s market that spans several blocks of the riverfront

Many vendors were closing up shop, but a few were still selling their wares. I noticed a booth selling sprouted wheat bread and just had to try a taste. The rosemary bread was delicious, but the honey wheat was a better match for the homemade almond butter I’d brought along for our trip. Apparently, sprouted wheat flour has about half the gluten in it as regular wheat flour.

We started chatting with the vendor, Bryun (“spelled correctly!” he joked), and we discovered he has a very humorous blog called His hilarious tales, one of which was about inaccurate measuring spoons and home grown recipes, were the perfect thing to read the next morning at our rig as I enjoyed a slice of his homemade bread.

Sprouted Wheat booth at Idaho Falls Farmer's Market

I couldn’t resist trying a loaf of homemead sprouted wheat bread!

We reached the end of the farmer’s market (it happens every Saturday, by the way, from May to October), and the River Walk kept going. Wide grassy lawns dotted with towering shade trees invited us to explore further. According to Google Maps, there are over 7 miles of trails!

People were relaxing under the huge trees.

Lush lawns Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

The shade of the tall trees was ideal for relaxing in the cool grass.

This is a bike-friendly town, and elsewhere on the River Walk we’d seen a sculpture of a racer on a bike. Here, we watched a few people roll past on bicycles.

Idaho Falls loves bikes!

Bicycle on the bike path Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

The paved bike path goes a long ways on both sides of the river.

And then we came across a penny-farthing bicycle bench!

Penny-Farthing bicycle bench Idaho Falls Idaho

An old pashioned penny-farthing bike bench — how fun!

There’s also a fleet of motorized scooters that you can grab and ride from here to there. They are operated by the Bird App, and you log in to rent the scooter right as you’re standing next to it. Very convenient!

We saw a few dads zooming around with little kids standing on the scooter in front of them. You do have to be careful, though, because these things are silent and the drivers sometimes get them going very fast, weaving between pedestrians on the paths.

Bird App scooters Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

You can grab a scooter anywhere and use the Bird App to rent it for a while.

Idaho Falls is also a very dog friendly town. Buddy had been warmly welcomed throughout the farmer’s market and he’d already met quite a few new dogs on our walk. Here we found a fun set of four dog paw stools marching along.

Dog Paw stools on the River Walk n Idaho Falls, Idaho

Idaho Falls loves dogs!!

Mark and Buddy took a breather on a music park bench in the grass nearby.

Music bench Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

A music bench and soft grass make a perfect spot to take a break.

The whole River Walk is beautiful, whimsical and inviting. We stopped at a war memorial overlooking the Snake RIver to pay our respects to fallen soldiers in all the wars since WWI. It has a wonderful view of the river.

Enjoying the view of the Snake River Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

We just loved the whole waterfront scene along the Snake River in Idaho Falls.

We had arrived in Idaho Falls with no idea what to expect. Within a few hours of strolling along the waterfront, we were smitten, and so far we’d only seen only a portion of the unusual River Walk.

What a special and fun-loving place!

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More info:

Other blog posts from Idaho:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff. Also check out our COOL NEW GEAR STORE!! *** CLICK HERE *** to see it!

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Sun Valley Idaho – An RV Traveler’s Delight in Ketchum, ID!

August 2016 – Idaho is a gorgeous state that’s great for RV travel, and the National Forests offer up some stunning scenery. The folks that live in the beautiful communities of Sun Valley and Ketchum are very fortunate to have a playground of alpine glory right out their back door in the Sawtooth Mountains. We have been routing our summer travels to go through Sun Valley as often as possible since we started our full-time travels in our RV nine years ago.

00 721 RV camping in Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

Nature gave us summer peaches and blueberries in the sky.

In the summertime, the communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley spill out onto the sidewalks. Sun Valley, Idaho, is most famous for its ski resort, which gave the area its name, and it is loved for the fabled winter recreation that goes on in the surrounding mountains. But Sun Valley also thrives under the warm summer sun, and every eatery in town has tables with umbrellas out front.

Eating outside in Sun Valley Idaho

Sun Valley and the town of Ketchum are full of places to catch a bite under an umbrella in the sun!

Sun Valley is a relaxed community where life is lived at an easy pace. Yet what sets it apart from most small towns across the country is that it is a hideaway for the ultra rich and ultra famous. From Arnold Schwartzenegger to Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, lots of A-list celebrities have homes here, and they visit their alpine estates for a little down time.

Happy dog in Sun Valley Idaho

Sun Valley is a place where people (and dogs) come to relax.

For the rest of us, there’s no end of recreation opportunities around Sun Valley, even for those on a budget. Back when we first discovered Sun Valley for ourselves seven years ago, the Visitors Center published a booklet called 50 Fun Free Things To Do in Sun Valley. They were actually able to list 50 different things! We tried to tick them all off, and we made a good dent in the list, but there are still many things we haven’t yet done in the area!

Trail rides Sun Valley Idaho

There are loads of fun activities around town and in the mountains — and we haven’t exhausted them yet!!

From a trip to the historic Ore Wagon Museum to drinks at the stunning Sun Valley Resort to visiting Hemingway’s memorial to summer outdoor ice skating shows to enjoying the weekly Art Walk (with free wine offered at every gallery…watch your step!), it is impossible to get bored in this town. And when it’s time to slip away for some peace and quiet in the stunning Rocky Mountains out back, there are many wonderful ways to do that too…

Horseback riding in Sun Valley Idaho


Because of the many celebrities who love this town, there is a lot of money floating around and lots of rich living going on. But somehow there is an inclusive grace to it that lets everyone share in the spoils.

Sure, it’s common to see a Porsche on the streets, or even a Bugatti Veyron when the Sun Valley Road Rally takes place in July, and it’s not like we ordinary folks can tap on the window and say, “Hey, can I have a ride?”

Ferarri in Sun Valley Idaho

My other car is…. a Ferarri.

But there are a few second hand stores in town that benefit the fabulous town library, and the cast-offs from the resident billionaires can make for some very interesting shopping!!

Sign at second hand store in Sun Valley Idhao

I loved this sign over the register in one of the second hand stores.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing that the very wealthy have given to Sun Valley and its summer tourists is the Sun Valley Symphony concert series that takes place each August.

Besides building an award winning performance Pavilion that is constructed of special travertine stone that was quarried from the same area in Italy as the stone used to build the Roman Colosseum, each summer for the last 32 years the wealthy of Sun Valley have funded a top notch symphony orchestra made up of musicians that are on summer break from the major orchestras across the country.

Best of all, the Sun Valley Symphony puts on a free concert almost every night for a few weeks each August.

Talk about a gift to the community!!

Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert Idaho

From Pops to Classical, the Sun Valley Symphony keeps the music flowing for free almost every night in August.

The cool thing about these concerts is that you can grab any open seat in the Pavilion if you want to watch the performance in a traditional setting. Or you can bring a picnic and sit out on the enormous, lush, grassy lawn where rows of loudspeakers broadcast the music and a massive video screen shows close-ups of the musicians playing.

Sun Valley Symphony Free Concert

Outdoor summer concerts are a blast anywhere, but in Sun Valley they’ve been refined and perfected, thanks to the local gazillionaires.

We’ve enjoyed plenty of performances in the theater seats of the Pavilion over the years, but in reality, sitting out on the lawn is where the real action is!! For an hour or more before each concert begins, people show up with picnic blankets and get set up with their beverages of choice while the kids all run around on the grass.

Picnic at Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert

Here’s how to unwind after a day of work on a Tuesday…

Although some of the picnic dinners are humble affairs in Tupperware, an awful lot of people go all out and bring a deluxe spread that makes the neighbors at the next blanket quite envious.

Picnic Basket at Sun Valley Symphony summer concert on the lawn

Cheddar cheese and Triscuits in Tupperware are fine for some, but others bring an elaborate spread in an elegant picnic basket.

Dog and picnic basket for Sun Valley Summer Symphony Concert

“Hmmm…. what are you having over there???”

The Sun Valley Symphony concerts are a very social affair, and friends enjoy each other’s company while the music plays in the background.

Kids playing on the lawn at Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert

For the locals, these concerts are all about socializing.

While the dress code for these concerts is decidedly casual, some people prefer to dress up for the occasion, and there are lots of party dresses to be seen.

Little girl in party dress for Sun Valley Symphony summer concert on the lawn

For a night at The Symphony, some ladies wear their best gown and sparkly shoes!

Others just enjoy catching up with friends.

Kids playing at Sun Valley Symphony summer concert Idaho


Still others take a load off on their nifty Thousand Trails picnic blanket and read the Symphony’s program notes that are published in a beautiful — and free — glossy book!!

Sun Valley Summer Symphony Concert on the lawn at the Pavilion Idaho

I would be doing cartwheels too, but the program notes were pretty interesting!

Throughout it all, the the orchestra’s melodies float across the lawn on the late afternoon breezes.

Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert Series Idaho

The musicians hail from all the major orchestras and they love making music together in Idaho.

These nearly nightly concerts in August are enough to get our hearts singing, and when we were debating which way to head after we traveled down Idaho’s panhandle and basked on the beach in McCall, there was no doubt in our minds where to go: Sun Valley.

Unfortunately, despite wanting to stay in Sun Valley for a few weeks or more, with dreams of going mountain biking and hiking every afternoon, and sipping coffee on balmy summer mornings at the jaw-dropping Starbucks / visitors center in town, Nature had other plans.

Throughout our stay in northwestern Montana and Idaho this year, a wildfire called the Pioneer Fire had been burning near the town of Idaho City about 60 miles from Sun Valley as the eagle flies. It had started on July 18th and had been growing rapidly throughout July and August and proving difficult to tame.

While there was no risk of flames coming anywhere near us, the smoke blew in and out of Sun Valley and the Sawtooth Mountains on a regular basis, burning our eyes and making outdoor activities less than healthy.

Sunset through wildfire smoke

Sun sets through the smoke.

For those who don’t live or travel out west, the concept of wildfires can seem distant and unreal. But they are an integral part of every summer in the dry western states.

When we traveled to the eastern states last summer, we were amazed that we heard nothing in the news of any fires out west. Hadn’t there been any? Well, when we caught up with friends once we got back out west, we discovered it had been just as tough a fire season as any.

This year, as we dealt with smoke drifting into the valley so thickly that visibility was almost completely obscured at times, we followed the fire season’s progress on Inciweb. This government website tracks the hundreds of wildfires that are burning at any moment all summer long in the western states. Here’s a map of major fires that was on Inciweb in mid-August:

Map of wildfires burning in the US

It is alarming to see a map of America’s biggest active wildfires in mid-August.

Of course, particulates in the sky are the very fabric of stunning sunrises and sunsets, and we enjoyed a few during our stay.

Sunset Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

The smoke in the air created some beautiful sunrises and sunsets,
and this photo of Mark’s won “Photo of the Day” on Steve’s Digicam.

RV camping at sunset Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

Fire in the sky!!

But when the smoke rolled in and we could taste it on our tongues, we decided it was time to leave. Sigh.

Pioneer Wildfire Smoke Sun Valley Idaho

Heavy smoke rolled in and out of the valley every day, and we finally decided enough was enough.

Wildfires are reported in the news in terms of acres, and dividing by 640 yields the fire size in square miles (i.e., a fire that is 100,000 acres is 156 square miles).

The Pioneer Fire which made us flee Sun Valley this year was 42 square miles when we left in mid-August. As I write this blog post four weeks later in mid-September, that same fire is now 290 square miles and is 56% contained, although there are hopes it will be fully contained by September 15th. It is not known yet what caused the fire, and it will keep burning and smoldering right up until it is buried by snow this winter.

We did get our Sun Valley fix this year, but we didn’t have a chance to explore any new grounds. However, we will definitely be back, as it is a town that totally enchants us every time we visit.

I mean, who can’t love a town so classy that the man hole covers in the streets are stamped with artwork featuring a musical G-clef?!!

Classy Sun Valley Man Hole Cover

Sun Valley is a class act from head to toe.
Even their man hole covers are decorated with beautiful art work!!

We have enjoyed Sun Valley in the past so much that we have written articles about it for Trailer Life Magazine, Highways Magazine and the now defunct RV Journal! We hope you love it too, and to help with making plans for an RV trip there, we’ve got a few links below.

Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Sun Valley, Idaho:

Our blog posts from our RV travels to Sun Valley:

All of our RV travels in Idaho can be read by clicking HERE!

Other musical happenings that we’ve loved:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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McCall, Idaho – Summer Beach Fun on Pretty Payette Lake

July-August 2016 – McCall, Idaho, is perched right on the edge of beautiful Payette Lake, and in the summertime it is a wonderful waterfront beach town if there ever was one. What a great destination for an RV trip!

Payette Lake shore near Legacy Park McCall Idaho

McCall, Idaho, is a fantastic beach town!!

Even though McCall sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the temps in August were toasty warm and everyone was enjoying cooling off at the waterfront beach parks. What a beautiful setting!

Jet skis on the beach McCall Idaho

A rainbow of jet skis ready for action.

Beach umbrellas McCall Idaho Payette Lake

A nice spot to unwind for a while!

Kids were everywhere, and they were just loving the town beach. Two little boys were standing in the water blowing bubbles and two little girls up on the beach were trying to catch them.

Beach at Legacy Park McCall Idaho Payette Lake

Kids blow bubbles on the beach.

A little ways down the beach a little girl was playing with a wagon.

Playing on the beach McCall Idaho


Boats were lined up at the docks, and there was a steady stream of boaters heading out onto the lake.

Payette Lake Sports and Marina McCall Idaho

Bikes and boats – what could be more fun?!

The main street of McCall is very cute with historic buildings wedged together cheek-by-jowel. For those that want to cool off without going swimming, we found a skating rink just a few doors down with sessions that are open to the public.

Historic buildings downtown McCall Idaho

The main drag, just in from the beach, has some classic old buildings.

We made our way to Mountain Java on many mornings, sipping a tasty cuppa joe while sitting in the colorful Adirondack chairs that fill the lawn in front of the Mountain Monkey Business store and look out onto Payette Lake.

This was a wonderful way to start the morning, and we met both locals and tourists alike while kicking back and savoring the view and a brew.

Mountain Monkey Business and Mountain Java McCall Idaho

These colorful chairs on a lawn overlooking the lake became our morning hangout!

By a stroke of very good luck, we happened to be in town during the Antique and Classic Boat Show at the elegant Shore Lodge on the edge of Payette Lake. What a fabulous display of lovingly varnished boats from yesteryear!

Antique wooden boat show Shore Lodge McCall Idaho Payette Lake

What good fortune to be in town on the weekend of the Antique and Classic Boat Show!

These gorgeous boats were known as “lakers” in their day, because they were specifically designed for happy boating days on fresh water lakes. Their meticulously varnished and gleaming woodwork wouldn’t hold up to the salt water of the ocean.

Cockpit of classic wooden boat Payette Lake McCall Idaho

I could handle a day on the lake in a classy boat like this!!

I can just imagine spending a day on the water in one of these, complete with lunch at anchor in some secluded cove on the lake.

Antique and classic boat show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Let’s go for a ride!!

These boats have a lot of get-up-and-go too, and many of them have been upgraded with modern engines that have even more zip. The owners of these classic boats just love them and love talking about them too.

Antique and classic boat show Payette Lake Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

This boat won Best in Show. No wonder the owner is grinning!!

Whenever one fired up its engine, a little crowd would form around the boat to listen to the engine purr and to find out where the owner had purchased the boat, what its history was, and what he had done to refurbish it to its former glory.

There’s nothing like a classic yacht, and last year during our travels in Maine, we took a fabulous factory tour of Hinckley Yachts, a boat builder that has morphed from producing stunning sailing yachts to zippy, luxurious powerboats.

Antique and Classic Boat Show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Some of the boats went out for a spin while small crowds watched from the dock.

The boats here in McCall, Idaho, were a lot smaller than the Hinckleys in Maine, but their owners got just as much pleasure from taking them out for a spin. Every time someone began untying the dock lines and shoved off into water, there was a murmur of oohs and aahs from the rest of us watching in envy from the dock.

The setting for this fabulous boat show was the equally fabulous Shore Lodge, a high end resort hotel that presides over one end of McCall’s lakefront.

Welcome to the Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Welcome to the Shore Lodge… Come on in!!

We wandered through the elegant Shore Lodge and explored its many nooks and crannies. It dates back to 1948 and has many refined touches of an earlier age.

Shore Lodge dining room etched glass sign McCall idaho

The historic Shore Lodge is a very elegant hotel right on Payette Lake.

The dining room has a breathtaking view of the docks below and all of Payette Lake and the distant mountains too. For those that needed a break from walking between the antique wooden boats, this was a great place for a bite to eat with a bird’s eye view of the goings-on.

Waterfront dining Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Enjoy a fine meal while watching the boat show out on the docks!

McCall, Idaho, has a lot more to offer than just beach and boating fun, though. We found some fantastic mountain biking trails west of town near Brundage Mountain, and we enjoyed a beautiful bike ride through Ponderosa State Park which is located on a peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake on the east side of town.

Mountain Biking Brundage Mountain McCall Idaho

We found lots of mountain biking trails and dirt roads on both sides of town.



One day we took a drive down Highway 55 to do some exploring south of McCall. We came across the historic town of Roseberry which was settled by a few Finnish families in the 1800’s.

Roseberry Idaho historic Finnish settlement

Roseberry, Idaho, was settled by Finns and is an interesting townsite today.

The whole area is now a museum that honors those rugged settlers and offers a peek into their lives.

Antique cabin Finnish settlement Roseberry Idaho

Finns had unique log cabin construction techniques that they brought to the New World.

There are some old log cabins that the families lived in as well as a fun town site with a general store, church, school, barn and other neat buildings.

Inside a cabin Roseberry Idaho Finnish historic settlement

And we think RV living is simple!

The town of Roseberry had its hey day in the early 1900’s, boasting a hotel, two black smith shops , a butcher shop, logging mill, creamery and restaurant. However, ten years later, the Pacific, Idaho and Northern Railroad line came through about 2 miles west of town, and Roseberry wilted while the bustling town of Donnelly right on the railroad tracks thrived.

Amazingly, lots of Roseberry people moved their homes and shops over to Donnelly to take advantage of the boom there, transporting their buildings by wagon! It’s hard to imagine that kind of boom and exodus today, especially given the easily driven luxury homes we RVers get to live in.

Historic Roseberry Idaho

Wandering around Roseberry, Idaho, made for an enjoyable afternoon.

Down at Lake Cascade, next to the town of Cascade, we found several campgrounds along the shoreline. RVers, boaters and fishermen were enjoying these lakeside campsites. We didn’t stay, but what a great spot to camp!

Truck camper and boat at Lake Cascade Idaho

Payette Lake isn’t the only game in town.Lake Cascade a few miles south is very beautiful and quiet too!

Back in McCall, we enjoyed some moonless nights, and one evening Mark snuck out with his new 12 mm fish eye lens to catch the Milky Way straight up overhead. This made a very cool effect!

Milky Way above the trees McCall Idaho

The Milky Way crosses the heavens high above us while a shooting star zips by.

If you are looking for a wonderful area for an RV trip in the heat of the summer, McCall, Idsho, is a very fun beach town. There are more links to help you plan your travels below.

RV camping in McCall Idaho


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Here’s a little more info about McCall, Payette Lake, Roseberry, etc:

Some related posts from our Idaho and the NW Montana / Idaho Panhandle RV travels:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall

    July 2016 – After a truly stunning few weeks in northern Montana — from adventures on the east side of Glacier National Park to learning about the unique history of Libby, Montana, and photographing the special wildlife and unique giant trees nearby — we took our RV on Idaho’s scenic back roads in the panhandle southbound from Sandpoint through Moscow to McCall.

    RV on a river in Idaho

    On the back roads of Idaho

    The summer was really heating up in northern Idaho, and when we arrived in Sandpoint, on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, we were delighted to find that the small town of Sandpoint transforms into a beach town when the temps climb over 80 degrees.

    Sandpoint City Beach Park in Idaho

    Sandpoint City Beach Park on Lake Pend Oreille

    The small town hugs the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille, and people were taking full advantage of the summer sun to get out on the lake in anything that floated, from boats to kayaks to stand-up paddleboards.

    Standup paddle boards Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint idaho has lots of summertime action on the lake.

    We discovered the wonderful Pend Oreille Bay Trail that runs along the water’s edge. This biking and hiking path offers both brief glimpses of the lake through the trees and open sweeping views.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail Sandpoint Idaho

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail

    The trail is wonderfully shaded for much of its length and is a joy to walk, run or ride at any time of day.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail bike path and running trail Sandpoint Idaho

    This shaded path goes right along the shoreline.

    There are paved bike paths all around Sandpoint City Beach Park too, and we rode everywhere.

    Riding the bicycle path in Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint has bike paths all over the place.

    Sandpoint, Idaho, is such a bike friendly town, we even found a colorful sculpture celebrating two wheeled transport.

    Bike sculpture Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint is a two-wheeler town!

    One day we spotted a van with bicycles on the roof. It turned out to be the famous PAC Tour, a challenging cross-country bicycle tour that puts even the hardiest cyclists to the test.

    Pac Tour cross-country bicycle tour in Sandpoint Idaho

    We bumped into the PAC Tour in Sandpoint!

    Their route travels from west to east and takes a little over 30 days. The cyclists were still fresh, as it was only Day 5. They had barely hit the big western mountains and were still a week away from the daylong 130 mile slogs across the flatter plains states. Kudos to all of them for taking on this huge athletic challenge!

    PAC Tour cross-country bicycle tour route for 2016

    These energetic cyclists had just started and had a long ways to go…

    The town of Sandpoint is very cute, and we enjoyed walking around the historic district. At one end of town we found the Libation District which has both brewpubs and a winery on both sides of the street. No shortage of fun there!!

    At the other end of town we found Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters where we got a peak at all of their coffee roasting equipment. For lovers of dark, rich coffee, their Guatemalan roast is really yummy. We took home a bag!!

    Evans Brothers Coffee Raosters Sandpoint Idaho

    Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters makes delicious coffee!

    We later discovered that they won 3rd place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition at the 2015 Coffee Fest Portland!!

    Just a few blocks away, we were very surprised to find the Litehouse Bleu Cheese factory where the popular salad dressing is made.

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese Factory Sandpoint Idaho

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese salad dressing is made here!

    But Lake Pend Oreille was the real focal point of our time in Sandpoint. One day we decided to get a view of it from high above. Locals suggested we take a drive up Schweitzer Mountain, a nearby ski resort.

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort Sandpoint Idaho

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort is on a nearby mountain overlooking the lake.

    The view from up there was wonderful!

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort view of Lake Pend Oreille Sandpoint Idaho

    What a view — Sandpoint tucked up against Lake Pend Oreille!

    After a week in Sandpoint we meandered south a little further and bumped into the cute town of Moscow. Instead of finding the grand turrets of Red Square, we discovered a lovely shaded main street that is lined with all kinds of boutiques and tempting eateries.

    Downtown Moscow Idaho streets

    Tiny Moscow, Idaho, has a cute downtown area.

    A fun paved bike path passes through Moscow, and we jumped on the Latah Trail to ride through the farmlands out to the village of Troy about 11 miles east.

    Latah Bike Path from Moscow Idaho to Troy Idaho

    Lovely rolling farmland on the Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy, Idaho.

    Much of this pretty trail goes through open land with views across rolling hills covered with pastures and farm fields.

    Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy Idaho

    The Latah Trail goes through pretty farmland.

    After a few hours of riding on the bike path, we returned to Moscow and stopped in at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub. We got there shortly after the noon hour, perfect timing for a brew…either coffee or beer!!

    Bucer's Coffeehouse and Pub in Moscow Idaho

    We stopped for brews at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub — coffee for me and beer for Mark!

    Continuing our journey south along Idaho’s pretty US-95, we passed lots more farmland with hay bales spread across the fields and farmhouses looking very quaint in the summer sun.

    Farmland in western Idaho panhandle

    The drive on US-95 was as lovely as the small towns along the way.

    Motorhome among hay bales in Idaho

    We passed some beautiful rural scenery.

    The Little Salmon River accompanied us on our drive, and we had to stop a few times to get photos as we passed through a wonderful canyon.

    Idaho scenery Little Salmon River

    The Little Salmon River ran alongside us the whole way.

    We had never thought of Idaho as being home to vibrant beach towns, but when we arrived in McCall, we discovered that, just like Sandpoint, the whole town was out in force soaking up the rays at the town beach.

    Sunbathers were lying on beach towels, and people were swimming and playing in the water, eating ice cream cones while strolling the paths by the water’s edge, and fooling around on boats and jet skis on pretty Payette Lake.

    We loved the vibe of McCall so much that we stuck around for two weeks!!

    Legacy Park on the beach in McCall Idaho

    What a great surprise to find another sweet little Idaho beach town in McCall!

    If you are taking your RV on a north-south route through Idaho, Route 95 makes for a very scenic and enjoyable drive. There are some links with more info below.

    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    Info about Sandpoint, Moscow and McCall, Idaho:

    Other blog posts from our RV travels in NW Montana and Idaho’s Panhandle:

    Scenic Drives for RV Touring in Idaho:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.

    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Challis, Salmon and our route:

    Related blog posts with similar themes from our RV and sailing travels:

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    A Backcountry RV Roadtrip in SE Idaho – Quiet Splendor!

    April 2016 – In our RV travels we prefer to take small back roads from town to town instead of zipping past everything on the interstates. As we left the Moab area in Utah to head north into Idaho, we scoured the map to find some skinny roads through the farmlands that would take us through the valleys between the mountain ranges.

    RV roadtrip past snowcapped mountains of northern Utah

    Wow! We left the red rock canyons of Utah behind and headed into northern Utah.

    Our minds were still reeling with the incredible and world renowned landscapes we’d enjoyed at Canyonlands National Park (North and South), Arches National Park, Dead Horse State Park and even the roadside stop of Newspaper Rock after coming up through the (appropriately named) Valley of the Gods. But we were astonished by the beauty of our surroundings in this lesser known area as we looked out our truck’s windows.

    RV roadtrip through Farmland and mountasin of northern Utah

    We knew the farmland around in Logan, Utah, was gorgeous, but this was incredible!

    Route 89 heading out of Ogden, Utah, was a little fast paced for our tastes, so we snaked our way through the farmlands on Route 23 and then on Route 36. The views in every direction around us were breathtaking.

    Farm and mountain scenery southeastern Idaho

    It’s scenery like this that gets us off the highways and onto the backroads of America.

    This is farm and ranching country. Horses grazed in the pastures and cows dotted the fields all the way to the mountains in the distance. It was early spring, and newborn calves bounded behind their mothers.

    Views from the RV southeastern Idaho mountains

    Horses and cattle didn’t seem to notice the views — all they saw was breakfast!

    We had traveled through this part of the country several times before, spending time at Bear Lake and Logan Pass in Utah and driving north through Afton Wyoming on our way to and from the Tetons. Despite two visits to the Tetons, there are places there we still haven’t seen. However, we decided to stay on the Idaho side of that stunning mountain range on this trip.

    RV camping by southeastern Idaho lake

    The lakes were as beautiful as the mountains.

    And the scenery we were seeing was plenty glorious enough, and the roads were very peaceful!

    RV roadtrip through southeastern Idaho mountains

    Not a bad spot to live!

    The skies, however, were not peaceful at all, and rumbling in the heavens got our attention.

    RV camping southeastern Idaho

    The skies began to look a little threatening.

    A stormy day that had been promising rain all day long suddenly ended with a spectacular sunset that had us running out of the buggy and down to the shore to take photos.

    Southern Idaho sunset on lake

    Cloudy skies sometimes bring awesome sunsets. This one was exceptional, especially after a gray day!!

    As we were busily snapping away at the sky, I heard a loud splash and looked down at my feet to see a beaver swimming right past me.

    What luck!

    I managed to catch him surrounded by the sun’s vivid magenta reflection in the water before he dived out of sight.

    Camping sunset beaver in Idaho lake

    A beaver swam right by me!!

    We were doing this little backroad RV roadtrip in a season that fell somewhere between winter and spring, which gave us lots of unpredictable weather. Nasty weather makes for great photography, however, and we continued on our farm road journey on Route 38 under pretty clouds at dawn.

    Malad City Idaho sunrise

    Reflections at dawn.

    Later in the day, however, those clouds got angry once again. We watched a massive black cloud forming in the distance as we drove. Suddenly the cloud was upon us. Fortunately, just at that moment, we saw a huge roadside pullout with a big red sign that said “Stop!” And stop we did!!

    RV travel southeastern Idaho_

    Yikes! A huge black storm cloud made us pull over and stop!

    No sooner had we run back into the trailer and closed the door than the heavens opened up. It rained buckets. It rained so hard the raindrops seemed to be bouncing off the ground. Thank goodness we had our house with us!

    We made lunch, and afterwards we soon got drowsy from listening to the rain pelting our roof. So, we crawled under the covers for a nap! When we awoke, the skies had lightened and Nature gave us the “all clear” and go ahead to continue our journey on Route 37.

    2016 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually_

    Four hours later, after a good nap, the skies began to clear.

    We continued north, and after all this time on the backcountry roads of northern Utah and southeastern Idaho, when we arrived in the town of American Falls, we felt like we’d landed at an enormous city.

    We watched long trains crossing the train bridge in town. One was so long it had three engines on the front and two on the back!!

    Train crossing bridge in American Falls Idaho

    In American Falls we saw a long train with five engines!!

    The storm clouds continued to threaten and were moving very fast above us. I’d gotten a kick out of setting up a timelapse video of the clouds moving across the canyon walls of Dead Horse Point State Park a few weeks earlier, and this seemed like a perfect chance to try that technique again:

    From American Falls, our journey took us north along Route 39 to Route 26 and through Atomic City which we had enjoyed on an earlier trip to the otherworldly Craters of the Moon National Monument. But instead of seeking out moonscapes, on this trip we had snowcapped mountains in mind and on our agenda.

    RV views on Salmon River Idaho roadtrip - nowcapped mountains

    Snowcapped mountains were what we were after.

    We hooked up with Route 93 and followed it northwest to the village of Mackay. What a sweet town! Mackay, Idaho, is flanked by two gorgeous mountain ranges, and we walked around town with our heads tipped back to take in the beautiful views.

    Mackay Idaho main street

    Downtown Mackay, Idaho.

    Our RV roadtrip had brought us through some remote and quiet lands. To give you a sense of size and scale, the town of Mackay, which was a major landmark on our trip, has a population of 494!

    No wonder the local cinema can offer happy birthday wishes to a resident!!

    Main Street Cinema Mackay Idaho

    In a small town, your birthday can put your name on the marquee at the cinema! How fun!!

    Makcay, Idaho, is on the opposite side of the mountains from the much more well known, busy and trendy community of Sun Valley to the west, and it is “opposite” in spirit as well.

    “We like having a mountain range between us and Sun Valley!” One local said to me, laughing.

    We meandered the few streets, and admired the rustic, crusty and aging barns and buildings tucked between some of the homes.

    Crumbling Barn in Mackay Idaho


    Old barn Mackay Idaho RV roadtrip


    This part of Idaho is wonderful for RVing, and it has been popular with RVers ever since RVs were first built!

    Antique travel trailer RV

    We saw a cute antique trailer in a yard. Cool!

    Discovering special places that don’t get top billing in the tourist literature is one of our favorite things about this full-time RVing lifestyle. International tourists flock to the major cities and the National Parks. And why not, they’re spectacular! But the roots of America are in the small towns across the country.

    Old store front Mackay Idaho

    Get your stretchy suspenders here!!

    We were so glad we had chosen a route that we had never taken before through this familiar region. Every sight along the way was new and exciting!

    RV camping Salmon River Idaho

    Getting off the beaten path is our favorite aspect of RVing.

    If you are have an RV road trip planned between northern Utah and southern Idaho, consider getting off the interstate and exploring the smaller roads. It’s a very beautiful part of the country!! More info below…

    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info and more stories from our RV travels in this area:

    Our route through the Northern Utah and Southern Idaho farms and valleys

    Scenic Drives for RV Touring in Idaho:

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    Craters of the Moon + Cataclysms from Sun Valley ID to Alpine WY

    Camping in the Sawtooth Mountains

    Sunset in the Sawtooths

    August, 2014 – We had been enjoying a wonderful stay in Sun Valley, Idaho, spreading out in some great camping spots and taking in lots of free summertime outdoor events.

    The wildfires that had nipped at our heels in Sedona, Arizona, and in Bend and eastern Oregon, were by now long forgotten, and after a few days of summer showers and thunderstorms, the air around us was crisp and clear.

    We wanted to do a “signature hike” in the area when the sun finally resumed its rightful place in the sky, and a ranger suggested the hike to Baker Lake.

    Starbucks insignia for Sun Valley Idaho

    This had been the most popular hike in the area until it was devastated by the Beaver Creek wildfire of 2013.

    Now it was a hike through a burnt forest.

    “It’s still beautiful,” the ranger insisted.  “But in a different way.”

    Well, we’d seen enough fires in action this year, why not see what a national forest looked like once the embers cooled a year later?

    Baker Lake Road into the Sawtooth National Forest

    Beautiful mountains in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

    Our trail, which had once wandered between green pines, was soon passing between stands of charred trees that were stark reminders of the devastation

    However, as we slowed down and took in the strange landscape around us, we soon found there was an eerie beauty to it all. A mysterious aura enveloped us.

    The Beaver Creek Fire had been the result of two separate fires that had joined forces.

    By the grace of God, the ranger told us, the winds had turned at the very last minute, before the flames raced down a canyon into town, sparing Ketchum from a true bath of fire.

    Fire damaged trees from the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho

    The Beaver Creek fire burned 180 square miles

    As we hiked, we saw large shards of blackened bark had fallen off the trunks of the trees, leaving intriguing lace-like patterns on the red-brown wood.

    Bark falls off the trees from the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho

    Lace patterns on the tree trunks

    Scorched logs lay scattered across the ground, each filled with the funny checkerboard patterns that develop as wood burns.

    Hiking the Baker Lake Trail we see lupine blooming

    A little lupine grows between the blackened tree roots

    Scattered here and there between the singed roots and ravaged remains, little purple lupine flowers poked their heads through the cinders and basked in the sunshine.

    A thicket of tiny purple flowers filled the spaces between a stand of black stick-like trunks, and a few yellow flowers smiled up at us from their hiding places amid the wreckage.

    Life was returning.

    RV Camping in the Sawtooth National Forest Idaho

    Fire in the sky at sunset — flames of the gods!

    Craters of the Moon National Monument

    Craters of the Moon National Monument

    We had been in Sun Valley for nearly a month, and we were ready to move on.  We packed up and made our way east from Ketchum, Idaho, through Craters of the Moon National Monument.  This monument is a vast sea of lava flows that is the result of a series of violent volcanic eruptions between Idaho and Wyoming.

    Driving alongside this moonscape for many miles, there was nothing but black lava rock as far as we could see into the distance.

    Ironically, here we were facing another cataclysm, one much bigger than a forest fire and dating from a much more distant time thousands of years ago.

    Most of the hiking trails wound through crooked trees and craggy lava rock, but the best one climbed straight up along the lava cinders to the top of a cinder pile.

    The more we explored the park, the more we felt its air of haunting melancholy.

    Tree at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho

    Craters of the Moon has some wonderful landscapes

    Placards along the trails told how, decades ago, in a misguided attempt to beautify the park, the National Park Service had poisoned all the trees that were afflicted with an ugly parasitic vine.

    Only after all the parasitic vines had been successfully exterminated did the Park Service discover the delicate symbiosis between the vines and the now dead trees, one that is critical to the survival of the remaining trees.

    Ancient volcanos in northern Idaho

    An old volcano on the horizon in central idaho

    We left the park pondering the immense forces of nature and the wisdom of tampering with their balance.  Can human knowledge control nature without disastrous consequences, or mastermind its energies without paying a price? An old volcano decorated with cell phone and radio towers slipped quietly past the car window.

    High school class years on the hill in Arco Idaho

    The hillside in Arco is covered with enormous white numbers.

    Arco Idaho first atomic city in the world

    Arco holds a unique distinction.

    We arrived in the town of Arco, Idaho, and were immediately struck by the strange numbers that covered the hillside on the edge of town.  What the heck was that all about? Were there mines up there?

    Looking a little closer, we soon realized these numbers were years — 2000, 89, 95 — and, asking around, we found out there’s been a long-standing tradition for the high school seniors to sneak up on the mountain and paint their school year on the rock.

    That’s no small feat, as the numbers appeared to be 30′ or so tall!  Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management put an end to this practice about a decade ago.


    ERB-1 Nuclear Power Plant control room_

    The EBR-1 control room is right out of Star Trek.

    We also learned that Craters of the Moon and the other vast barren landscapes in this region of the country are remote enough to have become the site of lots of weapons testing and nuclear power development over the years.

    The little town of Arco stands out in history as the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power, and the nuclear power plant responsible, named EBR-1, is just down the road.

    We took a tour, marveling at the 1950’s switches and dials in the control room. They seemed to come right out of Star Trek!

    Storm clouds swirl above our RV

    A fast moving storm swirls above our buggy.

    RV parked under storm clouds

    Storm clouds threaten…

    Leaving Arco and EBR-1 behind, we traveled on to the shores of beautiful Palisades Reservoir. Just as we pulled the rig around to set up, nature unleashed her fury with a cataclysmic thunder and lightning storm.  I was so taken by the sky, as I “helped” Mark get the rig parked, that I began snapping photos of it with the buggy in the foreground.

    Mud and rain out our window

    It poured pitchforks for four days!

    Mark, of course, was struggling to get the rig parked and set up before the deluge hit while I leaped around singing, “Wow, this is AMAZING, it’s so BEAUTIFUL!” as I took more photos.

    Just in the nick of time, I got the camera put away and we got our little home set up.  For the next four days we hunkered down as the rain fell in relentless torrents.

    Muddy tracks outside our door

    Will we ever be able to leave?

    At one point, a knock on our door summoned us to the aid of four teenage boys whose muddy joyride in their Rubicon had left them stranded, hubcap deep, in lakeside muck.

    Luckily, the Mighty Dodge (with the help of Mark’s skillful driving and four eager boys pushing) was able to pull the Rubicon back to solid ground.

    Sunrise over our RV in Idaho

    A beautiful sunrise heralds the (temporary) end of the storms…

    At long last we awoke to a glorious sunrise, and the puddles around us soon began to dry. We looked around for Noah’s raven and dove to send out as scouts, but his little winged messengers were nowhere to be found. We had to don our boots and go outside for a look ourselves! After a day of drying out, we deemed it safe to hitch up and leave, and we slowly rolled on to Grand Teton National Park.



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