Tuesday, July 05, 2011

One of our main goals while here in Grangeville, was to make a jet boat ride down Hell's Canyon. Well, first day here, friend Jane calls the company that we chose for the ride. They had a boat going down that morning and if we could be there in 2 hours, we had a seat. So off to Hell's Canyon we went.
There was 9 people all together on the boat including crew. The normally carries about 30 to 40 people. The captain said that since we were so few, we could take our time at stops and really see things. Headed down the river, the captain was very informative about the different sights and the river. One thing that he said, was the river was pretty darn high for this year. We saw several different wildlife. Deer, Big Horn Sheep, bear, eagles. There were a few rafters also on the river. Watched a bunch of fishermen at the dam fishing for steelhead. While there, one was caught.

Headed up the river, we had three rapids to run. One was classified as a semi bad one. But it sure was fun to do. I really see what river runners see in running the rivers. It is a rush that is super fine. Marshal even says that his day on the boat was awesome.

And I am sure that if he gets the chance to come back, he will.

We now have a couple of travel days to reach our destination of Grangeville, Idaho. Hoping to make it in there to spend a week and to avoid the 4th of July travel. So as I am the navigator, I get to chose the route we take. So it is from I84 and Boise to the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, where we turn onto the Wilderness Canyon Byway, which this picture comes from. And finally to the Payette River Scenic Byway.

One thing that we see in these places, are the rivers, which are very high and fast due to the snow melt and rain that Idaho has had this year. We hear on the television that night how one woman lost her life close to Boise due to high water and a kayaker was lost in the Payette River. There are stretches of the rivers, and I mean miles of river that are white water and very dangerous.

This picture is from the Wilderness Canyon Scenic Byway. By the time we arrive in Grangeville, our count of scenic byways is now 6 byways.

We do spend one night at Cascade, Idaho in a nice park. Our site was close to the river. Really too close for my comfort, as the river was running high.

I have found a very nice rv park here in Grangeville, Bear's Den RV Resort. As they are very booked for the 4th weekend, we get a couple of pull throughs for two nights and then we back into some new sites that they have been working on. The owner was working hard for those first two days just to get some new sites available. He had rigs parked on the grass, and in a couple of the sites that have the hook ups, but not really a good place to park. As we have been in worst, it was no big deal to move from the grassy nice sites to the ones we are in now. We have a level site, with full hook ups and wi-fi. We are happy.

We are traveling with a friend, Jane, who purchased a book that describes a good many back road adventures using a Jeep. And this book gives very good detailed instructions of where these sights are to be found. One of them is Bruneau Canyon Look out. So off we went the next day after a good night's rest.

Following the directions, we went down a canyon wall into the nicest, sweetest valley. The present owner of the ranch still ranches and farms the land. We didn't see anyone though. Then it was up the opposite canyon wall onto the flats. Following the instructions in the book, which said to follow the path to a y-junction, take the right hand path and follow it to the playa, then follow the trail to cow path and then across country. We never did find the cow path!!! LOL
But we did find the canyon overlook. Amazing. Well worth the trip in.

Coming out, saw some dust. Turned out to be a pickup with federal government workers checking out the sage hen habitat. Told them that it was nice to know that we weren't the only ones out there. The driver took a look at friend's Jeep and said it was nice to see a vehicle that could pull them out if they got stuck!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

It was well worth the trip in and out. A beautiful sight that most people cannot get to.

Our next day at the campground was a down day, which we took advantage of.

As always, if you want to see more pictures of our adventures, click on the My Pictures link and you can see more.

We took one day and explored the Owhyee Uplands Back Country Byway. It is definitely back country and very desolute. We saw very few people, vehicles and animals. But it is a very beautiful country. The roads were mainly dirt and/or gravel. The drive starts in hay fields with quite a few farms around, then rapidly heads into the a high mountain desert type of land. As Idaho has had lots of rain and snow this year, the sights were absolutely beautiful with all the wild flowers blooming. We went from sagebrush and wildflowers to rock-walled rivers and streams. The total drive is 101 miles long and well worth the trip. As there are no services out along the drive, it is a good idea to start with a full tank of gas and lots of water to take with. We stopped in the only campground on the drive and had lunch. We carried our own sandwiches with. We made a side trip to Jordan Valley for gas, even we had plenty, we were taking another road and I wanted to be sure we had plenty.

The next road we took that day was to Silver City, Idaho, a ghost town. In it's heyday, quite a bit of silver was taken out. It really didn't have much, but we did make a stop at the cemetery. And that was an adventure. There is only a one lane track to the cemetery and we were in my Jeep. Met up with some ATV's. There was a little track going up the side of the hill for them to pull over to let me by. Yes, I had the right of way. First ATV'er went up the track. Second one refused to move. The girl I am thinking was afraid to go up the hill. And I am thinking it was her husband on the first one, they had an argument, which she lost and she got out of the way. I went on my merry way. While walking in the cemetery, I heard the two of them down on the road having an argument about what had happened. She was not a happy camper. Oh well. After seeing the sights at Silver City, we headed back to our camp after a full day of seeing some beautiful country.

Our count of scenic byways is now 3.
Our next stop was Bruneau Dunes State Park south of Mountain Home, Idaho. It is a nice little park with some rv parking and camping with tents. For this short jaunt, we did the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway. Making it two so far.
We use the state park as a base to explore some of the country around that area. One of goals was to check out the Owhyee Uplands Back Country Byway. Which made 3 scenic drives for us.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

City of Rocks National Reserve

This unique geologic area became a landmark in 1843 for California bound emigrants. A few granite pinnacles and monoliths are in excess of sixty stories tall and 2.5 billion years old. The smooth granite faces offer exceptional rock climbing.

The Reserve boasts Idaho's champion pinyon pines, at more than 55 feet. City of Rocks pinyon pine forest is the northern most extension into Idaho. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring and summer months. The diverse habitat of the reserve supports a large variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates.


The landscape of City of Rocks has been sculpted from granite that was intruded into the crust during two widely spaced times. The granite that composes most of the spires is part of the 28 million year old Almo pluton. However, some of the spires are made of granite that is part of the 2.5 billion year old Green Creek Complex, and contains some of the oldest rocks in the western United States.

California bound wagon trains (1843-1882) left Raft River Valley and travelled through this area and over Granite Pass. Names and initials of emigrants written in axle grease are still visible. Emigrants consistently referred to the city as one of the memorable scenic wonders of a phenomenal journey: "This is one of the greatest curiosities on the road" wrote Eliza Ann McAuley in 1852.

A short drive through the reserve taking pictures and thoroughly enjoying the sights of the rocks. Just imagining what it was right for the wagon trains going through this. We used our imaginations to guess what the rocks looked like to us. I saw one that reminded me of Jabba the Hutt. The wildflowers were still abundant, as this has been a wet cold year.

We found another side trip to take. This was definitely a dirt road that had not seen much use. So off we went. Well, make this our second road we had to turn around due to a snow drift. Better safe than sorry. As we were headed down the road, there were several 4WD vehicles headed up. We stopped them and explained about the drift. Guess they decided they could go through. Well, there was like 4 of them and the drivers were all young men.

We headed down the mountain towards Oakley and another side trip out of there back towards where we were parked for the night.

We did our first scenic byway, City of Rocks Back Country Byway.

One of our goals on this trip is to explore as much of the back country of Idaho as we can get to. So after Albion, headed south towards City of Rocks, we found a side trip to Mt. Harrison tempting. So up the mountain we went. That is until we found this snow drift that completely stopped us in our tracks. As we could not go through, we turned around. This makes our first turn around. But that is all right. Now further south to the City of Rocks.

We are on our latest adventure. Left home on June 24th with a friend from Oklahoma. Jane also has an rv and Jeep. Our plans were to see as much of Idaho as we can. We made our first stop in Declo, Idaho. Yes, I know not that far from home, but there was some sights that we wanted to see, like City of Rocks and Albion Normal School. The plan was to stay one night and see what we could that first day. After getting our rigs parked and set up, off we went. Our first stop was Albion Normal School. Here is some info about the school.

Albion State Normal School was an institution of higher learning located in Albion, Idaho . The school was established by the Idaho Legislature in 1893, as one of two Normal schools in the state. Citizens of Albion had actively lobbied for the school's establishment, and donated land and labor for the new campus.

The school remained a small institution throughout its history, focusing on the training of teachers and drawing its student body primarily from south-central Idaho. Albion Normal offered a two-year teacher training program until 1947, when it was renamed "Southern Idaho College of Education" (SICE) and authorized to confer baccalaureate degrees. The school remained troubled by low enrollment and a lack of funding, however, and was finally closed by the state in 1951. Its academic programs were transferred to Idaho State College (now Idaho State University) in Pocatello.

During its existence, Albion Normal awarded some 6,460 degrees. Perhaps the most notable alumnus of the college was Terrel Bell (1921-1996), who served as United States Secretary of Education from 1981 to 1984.

The college's athletic teams were known as the "Teachers" until 1935, when they became the "Panthers." School colors were Cardinal and Black, and the annual student yearbook was called The Sage.

After SICE closed in 1951, the campus remained vacant until 1957, when Magic Valley Christian College opened at the site. Magic Valley Christian, in turn, closed in 1969. The campus was deeded to the city of Albion the following year, which continued to maintain the grounds while alternative uses for the property were explored. Finally, the empty and deteriorating property was sold at public auction on June 2, 2007; a group of Idaho investors were successful with a bid of $810,000. The new owners have begun rehabilitating a portion of the campus to serve as a conference and retreat center, called "Campus Grove at Albion."