What do you think of when you think of Idaho?
I mean, if you’re doing it the way God intended, it looks like this:
but the point is, Idaho isn’t on many people’s radar because, well… it’s Idaho. Most people assume it’s just a bunch of flat farmland. And, admittedly, there is plenty of that…
But, there’s also a whole lot of this….
Not only is Idaho surprisingly beautiful, but, with our visit to Henrys Lake State Park*, we turned the page on all our Colorado aggravation – no more heat, no more bugs, no more crappy campgrounds. In fact, it was all quite the opposite: During our visit, we enjoyed perfect weather, stayed busy with fascinating trips to Yellowstone National Park and, quite unexpectedly, ended up at the same campground as some of our friends – which meant we got in some good socializing as well.
Of course, our main goal in coming to this specific part of Idaho was to explore Yellowstone but I’ll write about that separately because it’s enormous and deserves its own post or three.
For now, let’s go Idaho!
After our great escape from Colorado, we made three one-night stops in a row on our way north, eventually arriving at Juniper Campground in the tiny town of Ririe, Idaho. The campground is part of a pretty county park and offers full hook-ups for $25 per night. The park is overwhelmingly green, it’s built on a reservoir, and the sites are enormous. After baking in bone dry Colorado for weeks, we really enjoyed the change of scenery, even if it was only for a few days.
Ririe is located about 20 minutes from Idaho Falls which is a decent sized city. We headed down there a couple times to run errands and took the opportunity to check out the Idaho Falls Greenbelt – a lovely system of trails and parks that run along the Snake River which cuts through town.
Soon enough, though, we were back on the road heading north and, more importantly, to a higher elevation. Barney’s engine had to work hard to climb the mountains, but once we arrived in Island Park, Idaho, we were thrilled to find temperatures in the low 80’s and an absolutely gorgeous state park campground located right on Henrys Lake.
While our site was technically a back-in site, we pulled in facing forward and just ran the utilities under the rig.
which meant we had this view….
And yes, it is oddly charming to have windshield wipers interrupting this scene.
Not only are the campsites at Henrys Lake fabulous, but the park offers guests beautiful walking trails as well as free kayaks. We hiked one of the trails one morning…
and went kayaking on the lake the next….
In addition to offering the free kayaks (both singles and doubles), the park also provides PFDs and emergency whistles…
We thought the whistles were a little odd until we experienced the intense windstorms that kick up at the park without warning on a seemingly daily basis. The lake is subject to some of the most unpredictable weather patterns we’ve experienced, making all the safety equipment and the instructions to “paddle in immediately” if we felt the winds pick up, understandable.
The park staff also offer a bunch of seminars each week. We attended one about options for hiking and sightseeing outside Yellowstone National Park. Turns out, you can stay busy in the surrounding region for weeks and, when we return, we’ll stay as long as we can. The park was just perfect!
After changing our plans in Colorado, I made a comment on Facebook about heading to Idaho. That prompted our friend, Mona Liza, to email me to ask whether we might be crossing paths with them. Turns out, not only were we going to be in the same area of the state, but we were going to be in the same campground! They were headed for Henrys Lake too! What are the chances of that?
This news was as welcome as it was surprising. After all the Colorado aggravation, knowing that we’d have friends to hang out with in this random park in the middle of nowhere provided one more thing to look forward to. Even though we’ve only hung out a handful of times, we feel like we’ve known one another forever because of our blogs (Their site is Lowes Travels). In addition to our travel and RV life connections, all of us have been through some rough patches on the road and it’s always nice to connect with people who truly understand your situation.
Anyway, it was great to hang out with them and we are endlessly grateful for their friendship.
Rock Creek Basin Hike
Along with having dinner at each other’s respective homes several times, we all went on a hike that turned out to be one of our most unexpected finds of the year. Steve found this particular trail, alternately called the “Rock Creek Basin Trail” and the “Sawtelle Trail,” on Alltrails and it seemed to be within all of our comfort zones. Little did we know the views would be so spectacular!
In fact, it was the kind of scenery we expected to see a lot more of in Colorado.
In addition to the magnificent mountain vistas, we found fields blanketed in wildflowers.
So many wildflowers….
I mean, these were some frolic-worthy meadows!
Now, just close your eyes and picture Kevin twirling around like Julie Andrews belting out “The hills are alive with the sound of music…..”
I’m not gonna say that it happened, but I’m also not gonna say that it didn’t happen.
(Ok, fine. It didn’t happen. If it did happen, I can assure you: you would have already seen it on the internet.)
It was also nice for all of us because Mona Liza and I could hang back and take pictures of all the things while the guys walked ahead….
Our visit to this wonderful state park in this lovely area of Idaho and our time with friends provided confirmation that we’d made the right choice by changing our plans. Speaking of which, our decision to spend as much time as possible exploring Yellowstone National Park was also a good one. More on that next.
*If you, like me, are driven nuts by the improper use of of apostrophes, rest assured, there is no apostrophe in “Henrys Lake.” Trust me, I checked. If, on the other hand, you have no idea what I’m even talking about, bless your heart and carry on….*
Where we stayed: