Thursday, November 2, 2023

2023 Road Trip - The Cooler Weather Tour - Central Idaho (Salmon River, Sawtooth Nat'l Forest, Stanley, Ketchum/Sun Valley/Hailey, Twin Falls)

 Continued from Teton Valley - lower Montana - Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

(or, you can start at the beginning here as it includes links to all the segments)

Stanley, Idaho: population 63. And home base to unreal wilderness. The Sawtooth Mountain Range is as eye popping and stunning as the Tetons. So we stayed a while.

It started with the beautiful Salmon River Scenic Byway from Darby, MT down to Stanley. We enjoyed one of the natural hot springs along the Salmon River before settling in at one of the Forest Service campgrounds along the river just north of Stanley. We had been there 10 minutes before it stormed and kept going all night.

We woke up to a foggy cloudy 40 degree morning. But the sun finally broke through and we went to Redfish Lake and hiked the Fishhook Meadow Trail. Beautiful views of the Sawtooths at the open meadow. Moose got wet in the river and chased the chipmunks who constantly taunted him. Moose continues to be the center of attention with other hikers. 

I paddled the inflatable SUP on Redfish Lake, Kris read her book lakeside and Moose played in the water. We found a nice dispersed free camping spot along the Salmon River not far from Redfish Lake and prepared for an upcoming epic hike. It's funny how no one ever talks about the Sawtooth Mountains like they talk about the Tetons or Rocky Mountains. The Sawtooths are definitely worth the visit and need to be seen if you're into eye popping mountain ranges (and great mountain hiking).

Sawtooth National Forest from WaterTurtle Media on Vimeo.

Salmon River

Fishhook Creek

Fishhook Meadow

Redfish Lake

Salmon River

The Sawtooths continue to amaze. We hiked the Iron Creek Trail to Alpine Lake and Sawtooth Lake. As usual, the photos don’t do it justice. Moose did great on his longest hike and biggest elevation gain so far (10.5 miles, 1,900+ ft elevation gain)

Kris and I found another natural hot spring by the Salmon River with great views of the Sawtooths. And we located another great BLM/Forest Service free camping dispersed site above Stanley with amazing views of the Sawtooths. 

We haven’t been eating out much on our trip but did enjoy amazing Idaho Kobe beef burgers at Sawtooth Luce’s and some great brunch eats at Stanley Bakery. Otherwise, we’ve mostly been making one pot dinner meals on the van propane stove. Usually rice or pasta with veggies and a protein along with various seasonings. Lunch has been a mix of turkey sandwiches or Amy’s frozen burritos (van microwave) with lots of chips, avocados & salsa. Breakfast is my usual morning coffee and oatmeal with all kinds of stuff thrown in (chia & flax seed, shredded coconut, honey, berries & bananas).

Iron Creek Trail in the Sawtooth Mountains

Alpine Lake

Sawtooth Lake

Salmon River

enjoying a natural hot spring alongside the Salmon River in Stanley, ID

our sweet dispersed overnight camping spot above Stanley with a great view of the Sawtooth Mountains

Stanley Lake

Galena Summit

Wood River in Ketchum, ID

Moose with a moose

Leaving Stanley, we drove south along Sawtooth Scenic Byway Hwy 75 up and over Galena Summit to Ketchum. Beautiful expansive ranch land on both sides of the road with great views of the Sawtooths. 

Ketchum is a small laid back ski and outdoor adventure town, yet the few stoplights and mild traffic were still startling after having been in Stanley. Sun Valley is also laid back…and super high end, along the lines of Aspen and Telluride. 

Highlights included walking around Ketchum, drinks at Sawtooth Brewing and Lefty’s Bar & Grill, an amazing Thai dinner at Rickshaw, visited the Ernest Hemingway Memorial, mountain biking in and around Ketchum, hanging out in Hailey, Kris and I biked the Wood River Trail from Hailey to Ketchum and back with Moose in tow, hiking in Sun Valley, and cold water river immersions. 

The mountain biking was a good mix of challenging climbs, fun downhill w/ jumps and berms, flow, rocky and technical terrain. On one of my rides, I got spooked by seeing a couple mountain lion scat piles and then a partial deer carcass nearby. It felt like I was being watched.

We found a great forest service dispersed site just outside town along a stream surrounded by mountains. It was so nice and quiet, we stayed there for three nights. This also happens to fall within the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve…America’s very first Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Reserve. No light pollution around us at all and no other soul in sight of us. It got cold at night but the stars were crazy good…I could see the Milky Way, satellites buzzing by and watched the Perseid Meteor Shower. Big comets with long streaking tails lit up the night. 

Idaho was one of the places we most wanted to visit (along with Northern Michigan, Michigan UP & the Dakotas) since we had not been there before. Between the Teton Valley, the Salmon River corridor, the Sawtooth National Forest/Stanley, and the Sun Valley (Ketchum/Sun Valley/Hailey) area, it left a lasting and indelible impression on us.

Ketchum, Idaho from WaterTurtle Media on Vimeo.

our wonderful dispersed overnight camping spot just north of Ketchum, ID

our wonderful dispersed overnight camping spot just north of Ketchum, ID

A big herd of sheep I came across while mountain biking - 5 working sheep dogs barked at me until I biked past them.

deer carcass remnants from a mountain lion

Ernest Hemingway Memorial in Sun Valley, ID

Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve - excellent stars, constellations, & meteor shower spotting

Wood River Trail between Hailey & Ketchum, ID

We drove south through Twin Falls, Idaho and stopped at Shoshone Falls. Impressive waterfall even though the water level was low. So we didn’t get to see the full effect flow across the entire rock/canyon drop. It’s supposed to be an amazing sight in spring. 

Next is Park City, Utah - upper Colorado - Back Home

No comments: