Thursday, November 2, 2023

2023 Road Trip - The Cooler Weather Tour - Teton Valley, ID -- lower Montana -- Coeur d'Alene, ID

We left Jackson, Wyoming and drove over the Teton Pass into eastern Idaho’s Teton Valley. And stayed for a while. Over the course of several nights, we stayed at two different US Forest Service campgrounds (with very friendly camp hosts and the cleanest/nicest smelling pit toilets I’ve ever seen) and a free dispersed campsite along the Teton River with a great view of the Tetons. 

Kris, Moose and I did some hiking. And I got my mountain biking back on for a few days and biked the Southern Valley trail system, the Miller Creek trail up through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and inside the Grand Targhee boundary, and then lift assisted downhill trails at Grand Targhee Ski Resort. This was some of the most epic Mountain West riding I’ve ever done. It rivals or beats Crested Butte, Colorado riding in terms of the views and crazy tall colorful wildflowers.

Kris, Moose and I also floated the Teton River for several hours in a rented 2 person heavy duty inflatable kayak. We saw three moose (close encounters in the river as we floated by them), one coyote, and a bald eagle.

We also enjoyed the towns of Driggs and Victor, ID. No pretense here and under the radar. On “the other side” of the Tetons, just your classic small outdoor adventure towns with one stoplight. Hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, river rafting/kayaking/SUP…and also had nice restaurants, shops, grocery markets, breweries, etc. They have it all here. Beautiful laid back area.

We really enjoyed our time in this area. It was another highlight of the entire road trip. It turns out the original genesis of this road trip was to visit this area for a week or two. Then our overall itinerary grew a lot bigger. But I always knew I wanted to spend some time here. We would have stayed longer but for the first time in our road trip, rain was in the forecast along with a flood watch warning, so we got on our way.

Teton Valley Mountain Biking from WaterTurtle Media on Vimeo.


We drove into Victor and enjoyed the Grand Teton Brewery with its on-site burger food truck - good vibes, fun outdoorsy crowd, other dogs, some good shade, and scenery out the back patio.

Got to have bear spray when hiking or biking in Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho

we hiked a good portion of the Black Canyon Trail about 2 miles in & back. very scenic trail, about 1K in ascent but wasn't too steep or difficult at around 9,300 ft elevation gain.

found a nice campsite at Reunion Flat Campground 

Miller Creek trail up through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and inside the Grand Targhee boundary - amazing & scenic ride

came across open range cattle inside the boundary of Grand Targhee Resort

a view of the "backside" of the Tetons from the trail

Reunion Flat Campground - came back and sat in the very cold creek by our campsite to wash off

our dispersed camping spot along the Teton River, just west of Driggs, ID

We did a Teton River float in a fun 2 person heavy duty inflatable kayak with Moose.

(the other) Moose on the Teton River 

fly fishermen on the Teton River with the Tetons in the background 

We were beset by rain for the first time on our road trip. It followed us from Teton Valley, Idaho to Big Sky, Montana where Kris and I got in a short waterfall hike (Ousel Falls) in between the rain. Our planned longer Beehive Basin hike and Big Sky area mountain biking didn’t happen due to the wet, soggy and poor visibility conditions. After an evening at the local farmers market where we met some very friendly locals (Moose is always the center of attention) and a night of more stealth boondocking in town, we drove to Bozeman where the rain continued to follow us. We had a lazy day…I watched Oppenheimer (it was very good!) in a movie theater and Kris got a pedicure and read her book in the van. 

After that, it was on to Missoula, a cool river town, where a local riverside evening concert and food truck event was happening. No dogs allowed at the event and the nearby brewery also didn’t allow dogs, not even on their patio. Two big negatives and not a good intro to Missoula unfortunately. However, I did get in some fun single track mountain bike riding at the local Three Larch and Sidewinder & Sons loop trails.

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho was not originally on our itinerary but we decided to go check it out. Coeur D’Alene Lake seems to be the centerpiece and the town has a really nice lakeside park. We did some paddling, hiking with nice views of the lake (Mineral Ridge & Tubb Hill) and biked a big flat portion of the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes alongside the lake and headwaters river with Moose in tow. It rained on us the last 8 miles (of 38 miles biked that day). Also had a very nice dinner with drinks at Daft Badger Brewing

Our overnights continued to be a combo of stealth town boondocking, remote Forest Service campgrounds (small fee), and free remote dispersed campsites. Interestingly, we still had to fight off some flies and mosquitoes back in Teton Valley. But there were none in Missoula, MT and Couer D’Alene ID.

Ousel Falls Trail in Big Sky, MT

Three Larch / Sidewinder & Sons Trail in Missoula, MT

Mineral Ridge Trail in Coeur d'Alene, ID

Coeur d'Alene Lake, ID

Tubb Hill Trail in Coeur d'Alene, ID

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