Homeward Bound Through Idaho and the Sawtooth Mountains

After another memorable visit to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks it was time once again to put that rugged mountain range in my rearview mirror (or in my case… the side-views.) After nearly two years since my last visit, it was time to return to my childhood home of Washington. Two states sprawled between me and my home town of Longview… Idaho and Oregon. The 900 mile trek would take me over mountain ranges, through deep forests, across arid desert and ultimately down the Columbia River Gorge.

Rather than torture “the beast” with the steep drive OVER Teton Pass I opted to follow the Snake River south to Palisades Reservoir, and then travel north to camp for a couple days in Victor, Idaho.

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Grand Tetons from the west

Grand Tetons from Victory Idaho

Farmland and Grand Tetons near Victory Idaho

I traveled through this part of Idaho about a year prior and was enchanted by this rolling farmland at the western base of the Tetons. While there I decided to do a day trip north through those rolling hills to Mesa Falls. These falls, upper and lower, are on the Henrys Fork, a tributary of the Snake River and part of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. I particularly enjoyed the thick mist surrounding Upper Falls.

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Upper Mesa Falls

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Trees in the mist at Mesa Falls

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Henrys Fork

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Lower Mesa Falls

Dandelion Old truck in Victor Idaho

Victor Idaho

Sunset from Victor Idaho

The following day I headed west on Hwy-20 in stormy weather… bucking winds and fighting to stay upright and between the lines. Thankfully the weather eventually cleared and soon after I found myself passing through Craters of the Moon National Monument. Here I was reminded again how remarkably diverse our landscape is in this nation. It makes me want to retake my college geology class!

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Storms on the horizon

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Craters of the Moon National Monument

After a brief visit to Craters of the Moon I continued toward my destination for the day… Sawtooth National Forest. By the time I arrived at the Murdock Campground (one of many in this National Forest) the weather could not have been better.

As soon my motorhome was situated I headed out to take advantage of the beautiful evening light. Traveling north on Hwy-75 took me to the top of the 8700′ high Galena Summit where, if not for the surrounding mountains, I could have seen forever.

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Sawtooth Valley from Galena Summit

Sawtooth Mountain Range, IdahoSawtooth Range, Idaho

The trees have eyes!

The trees have eyes!

Later, while walking the dogs in the campground I met my neighbors… Amy, Ed and Maya while they were walking their guinea pigs to the river for a swim. Yes… I did say guinea pigs, and yes… I did say swim. 🙂

That evening we enjoyed getting to know one another over dinner and a campfire. Amy and I are now discussing a jaunt down to Baja together! I love meeting new friends!!

Swimming Guinea Pig

Swimming Guinea Pig

In the morning I followed the same highway in my motorhome over Galena Summit and beyond Little Redfish Lake where I found a campsite with an enviable view of the Sawtooth Mountains beyond the lake. After settling into camp the girls and I hopped in the car and continued north to explore the Stanley area (and look for that ever so elusive WiFi signal which was not to be found).

Redfish Lake from my campsite

Little Redfish Lake from my campsite

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Sawtooth Mountains from Stanley

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The girls were rewarded for their patience when we returned to the campground. With the sun shining warm and bright the crystal clear water was far too tempting to resist, so we all went for a refreshing swim!

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Jazzy cooling off in Redfish Lake

Sadie

Sadie

At dawn I was treated to the serenity of a beautiful mountain sunrise reflected in the lake with a hot cup of coffee in my hands and the girls by my side. It was with mixed feelings that I broke camp soon after for the six hundred mile “home stretch” to Washington.

Sawtooth National Forest

Sunrise on Little Redfish Lake

This is a part of Idaho I had never seen and I continued to be amazed by the beauty as I drove. I’ve said it before, and I think it deserves to be heard again… there’s something special about watching the landscape of our nation unfold from the open road. Emphasis on the word “unfold”. Observing the transition from one type of terrain to the next is always intriguing to me.

From Stanley I traveled west on Hwy-21 through the Boise National Forest, and then meandered my way along the Payette River on Hwy-52, stopping several times for a closer look where I could. Eventually the road brought me through arid countryside and irrigated farmland to the town of Payette at the Oregon border. Here I turned north on I-84 with just over 400 miles to go.

Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho

Sawtooth Mountains

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Payette River, Boise National Forest

Boise National Forest, Idaho

Payette River

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Peyette River

By the time I reached the Columbia where it takes a ninety degree turn and heads west, dividing Washington and Oregon, I had two hundred miles to go. After a long day on the road, and with the beautiful scenery along the Columbia River Gorge ahead of me, I decided to stop for the night. As I neared the Columbia I pulled off at a rest stop and searched for a nearby campsite. What I found was a super cool site right on the river at the Boardman Marina Campground.

This is a campground I’d love to return to one day. It was clean and spacious, and all of the sites were on or very near the river.

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Sunset at Boardman Marina and Campground along the Columbia River

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Sunrise at Boardman Marina

Morning dawned beautifully which made me all the more excited to get on the road toward home. From just west of where I was camped in Boardman the Columbia River Gorge (and I-84) runs west to Portland for nearly eighty miles. At Portland the river turns north and flows fifty miles to my hometown of Longview before turning west again. By evening I was parked at my Dad’s home on a hill overlooking the river that always seems to bring me home.

Longview, Washington

Sunset from Dad’s house

At writing I am enjoying a similar sunset. I’ve been in the northwest for more than two months… time with family and friends, and rediscovering some of my favorite childhood places. Stay tuned for tales and images from adventures on the hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and much of the Olympic Peninsula!!!

0 thoughts on “Homeward Bound Through Idaho and the Sawtooth Mountains

    • It was indeed Mike. I wish I’d had more time to discover more while there. I’ll be heading on south within two weeks. My route will be dependent on weather, and the status of our National Parks at the time. The cold is setting in early and I have mountain passes to cross on my route! Hope to see you in your warmer climate!

  1. Beautiful pics, made me think that must of been what Lewis and Clark felt as their expedition explored our great country- be safe.

    • Edit
      There have been many times when I imagined the early explorers, and then settlers, making their way west. It would be tough enough on horseback, but covered wagon??? My rump hurts just thinking about it!

  2. Thank you for continuing to share your adventures and being an inspiration to so many of us! Thanks to having met you, my blog is doing very well. I have covered 43 towns/cities in New Hampshire. I still have a long way to go but I’m enjoying it immensely.

    • I’m glad to know you remain inspired to capture and share your beautiful state Laura. Hope to get back there one day to see more of it myself!

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