June 6, 2018: A Quick Jaunt Through Idaho

After spending the night in a hotel near Boise, Idaho, Danielle, Dirk, Shera, and I decided to drive across Idaho towards Yellowstone National Park in order to explore the park for the next couple of days. We didn’t have too much of a plan for our day aside from this, and because we weren’t in any great hurry, we figured we’d continue the theme of taking secondary highways in order to soak in the scenery, as opposed to fly across the land using interstates. Thus, once we hit the road we opted for Highways 26 and 20 to get across Idaho.

As we drove along, all four of us were taken aback with the incredible beauty that Idaho had to offer. Although Danielle and I had been to Idaho before, it had only been as quick pass-throughs across the panhandle on our way to and from Montana. In this passing, we were able to drive for an extended amount of time and truly absorb the vistas and landscapes of the potato state.

Some time into our drive, I looked out the window and noticed a stark change in landscape, jagged blackness covering the earth, far into the horizon. I watched somewhat in awe before speaking up and pointing this out, remarking that it almost looked like a lava field. Continuing into the blackness, we soon discovered that it was indeed a massive lava field, solidified by a sign welcoming us to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. We pulled over at the sign, and I took some photos of the otherworldly landscape that stretched as far as the eye could see.

After some time spent at our lava pit stop, we continued our drive across Idaho, stopping for a quick lunch and stretch beside the Snake River in Idaho Falls. We then continued along towards Yellowstone, reaching the town of West Yellowstone, Montana in the later afternoon. Once in West Yellowstone, we grabbed some fuel, coffees, and groceries, and then headed into a visitor’s centre to see how the camping situation was inside the park. In the centre we were informed that all the park’s campgrounds were at their max capacity, and if we wished to find any camping, we’d have to try the various options outside the park. A bit discouraged, we grabbed a list of potential campgrounds, and headed to the closest non-private one on the list. Finding that this too was full, we decided to drive a bit further to Rainbow Point Campground, some 20 minutes from West Yellowstone.

Arriving at Rainbow Point, we found a park ranger who informed us that there was one spot left in one of the campground’s loops. We then raced off to find the fabled spot, and as luck would have it, we were able to post up before anyone else scooped it. In doing so, however, Dirk did manage to connect Shera’s brand-new-to-her Acura RDX (which she’d wanted for many, many years) with a cement pillar, luckily only cracking a piece of superficial plastic as opposed to the front bumper. While this was a bit of a bummer, it could have been much worse, and seeing as how lucky we were to have found a campsite, we let it go, grabbed a beer, and headed down to the shores of Hebgen Lake, on which the campground sits.

Down at the lake, we watched a fly fisherman whip his line back and forth as fish jumped all around him. Dirk struck up a conversation with him and he told us how great of a place this was for fly fishing, and how he’s been bringing his family here for years. We drank our beers and relaxed on the shore of the lake for some time, and then headed back to set up camp and start dinner.

As dinner burbled and golden hour began, I ran back down to the lake to shoot the sun setting and kayakers and fishermen enjoy the lake. While shooting I struck up a conversation with two other photographers who’d just visited Yellowstone and were doing a bit of a road trip themselves. We chatted about overlanding, photography, and wildlife for about a half hour, as the sun finally dipped below the distant mountains. We then parted ways, and I headed back to reunite with the others and enjoy dinner and a nice sleep, our first outside of a hotel.

People in this blog: Danielle’s Instagram.

Danielle explores the moonscape.

Idaho Falls lunch break.

A great spot to camp, have a beer, and fish: Rainbow Point.

Camp set-up.

Returning to the lake at sunset, the same fisherman was still in the water to welcome me back.