What is better than waking up under the stars? Well for some it may be SMORES (I prefer the campfire apple pies)! With a long weekend approaching I set out to plan a camping trip, destination Southern Idaho. Camping is something I did often as a child (thanks Mom and Dad), but have not done much of since. With the destination being Idaho, limited time, and so many sites to see, I devised a plan to visit and experience the best that Southern Idaho has to offer (subjective of course).
First stop was The Shoshone Falls. With a $3 park entrance fee Shoshone Falls exceeded my expectations. The falls were not as magnificent in July, as they would have been in the spring, but still a site to see. The park also provides a partitioned off swimming area, above the falls, with diving boards and lifeguards on staff! We were not daring enough to take a dip, in the cold water, as are time would come with whitewater-rafting yet to come! There were also many picnic areas making the park a great day trip for locals as well as visitors.
1000 Springs Campground:
Night one set the bar high for camping, the morning not so much. The campground was fairly empty and offered a beautiful view of the river with hot springs flowing from the hillside. We started campfire cooking on a high note, maybe too high, with pizza. Not even burgers the following night could compete. The pizza was so good that we were left with no room for dessert, as if that is even possible. Aside from the view, the campground also had an indoor pool as well as water rentals for the river. Unfortunately, we only had one night here so did not get to enjoy all the offerings of the campground. I was able to try out my brand new hammock though, which I am still thawing out from. Not to mention, it took me the remainder of the vacation to catch up on the sleep I lost. Needless to say it was a fail. Perhaps with my newest addition to my camping accessories, my sleeping bag, I could attempt sleeping in the hammock again, but that wouldn’t be happing this trip! The sleeping bag was purchased on day 2 of this trip; the only purchase made, and the best purchase ever! To be fair, I probably could have slept on nearly anything after night one. Somehow with the lack of sleep I was still able to get up and make breakfast burritos in the morning. The motivation was clearly sparked by the lack of warmth. Packing up in the morning wasn’t nearly as miserable as I thought it would be, which was a relief as we had to do this 3 more times based on our travel plans. We were able to find tons of wood at this campsite and of course took as much as possible with us to the next campsite. Upon packing all of our belonging we stopped for a quick shower and were on our way. My shower was cut short when I noticed I was not alone. Spider! The spider won as I rushed to clothe myself and escape.
We didn’t get to fully experience Boise but were able to stop and mingle with some friends and see their beautiful yard. Upon snagging my new sleeping bag we were off to Garden Valley where our whitewater-rafting trip would begin bright and early the next morning. The drive from Boise to Garden Valley was beautiful with mountains on either side of the road.
Hot Springs Campground, Garden Valley:
The campground was heavily wooded with hot springs directly across the road from the campground. Better yet the campground was less than 10 min away from our whitewater-rafting destination. We were also lucky enough to meet a wonderful couple that invited us over for drinks on day one and dinner on day two! Thank you Carol and Ramsey, the fajitas were all the wonderful we needed after a full day on the river! The hot springs across from the campground felt amazing! I was able to sneak over, before anyone woke, and enjoy them all to myself. All to myself, if jumping spiders don’t count! If hot springs excite you, and you find your self in the area, this is the campground for you. If you are looking for more of a view, I would continue past Hot Springs Campground as there were many more campground, along the cliff, overlooking the Payette River.
White Water Rafting-
Whitewater-rafting, with Idaho Whitewater Unlimited, was all the amazing I thought it would be and more! We chose the most difficult, full day trip, called The Canyon. The beginning of the day was quite a bit calmer than I would have hoped but the afternoon was full of difficult rapids. My only complaint was the lunch, which was not the dutchoven lunch mentioned when booking! The lunch turned out to be chicken and or ham raps with veggies. It was not at all bad, just not the exciting dutchoven that was advertised. The guides were all amazing and very thorough in the training, prior to entering the rafts. They also had photographers that scored some amazing pictures throughout the rapids. They even captured a gal, whom we caught, as she received an upper body dunk prior to us pulling her back in the raft! Unfortunately, they did not get the very first big rapid where we lost a paid rafter as well as the guide! We were all a bit shaken up after looking back and seeing that the back of our boat had been cleared (footage in video)! Good news is that everyone in our raft, as well as the other raft, were able to stay in for the remainder of the trip. Throughout the trip we took several breaks. We stopped to dip in a hot spring, for lunch, and also to cliff jump for the brave. There were only a few of us that jumped the roughly 25ft. This was my first cliff jumping experience and will not be my last. The adrenaline rush was amazing until plunging into the freezing cold water and springing back to reality (footage in video)!
Craters of the Moon-
After leaving Garden Valley we headed through Sun Valley to Craters of the Moon. This drive was heavily wooded with scenic views in every direction.
Craters of the Moon was something I had never heard of prior to planning the trip. Who knew we had volcanos erupt, some 2,000 years ago, so close to home? I had heard about Yellowstone but never Craters of the Moon. It was obvious when we arrived, as there was black lava rock as far as the eye could see. We walked North Crater Flow as well as the Inferno Cone prior to taking on the caves. I explore Dew Drop Cave and was less than impressed. Indian Tunnel had much more space and even had holes in the roof that allowed light in which made for some amazing pictures/videos. Craters of the Moon was definitely worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in the area.
Night 4 was spent in a KOA. If I hadn’t gone the last 2 nights without a shower, I might have continued my search for a different campground. Wilderness campgrounds were hard to come by in Arco, Idaho. The trees within this town were clearly planted by hand, and necessary due to the constant wind. Other than the showers and the extremely nice campground employees, this campground was nothing more than en expensive shower. The wind made it hard to start a fire, so brats were cooked on the propane grill. Of course the fire started on its own immediately after the brats were put on the grill. Night 4 we made up for not having dessert the prior 3 nights. We started out with smores and ended the night with warm apple pies. The next morning began with breakfast burritos and apple pies were made and packed as snacks for the day. The breakfast burritos were pre made and wrapped in foil. Heating up was a breeze and made for an easy delicious breakfast. The drive to Lava Hot Springs took us through nuclear proving grounds, say what? We had no clue we would stumble upon the proving grounds but what better place than the land that was destroyed by a volcano? We also passed though Pocatello, Idaho which had a similar feel to Salt Lake, in the way that the mountains where everywhere.
Lava Hot Springs KOA:
Lava Hot Springs KOA was our final resting place. Again they had astonishing bathrooms but the campsite was less than impressive. Lucky the wind was not blowing this night as our campsite was nearly too small for a campfire, and we were having a campfire! For our last night we whipped up some soup and snuck into town for square ice cream cones. You will have to trust me on this one as I ate it too fast for pictures. Lava Hot Springs as a whole was a very cool little town. They had a waterpark, hot spring pools, zip lines, and tubes for rent everywhere. Floating the crazy rough river was definitely the thing to do in that town, next time for sure! This time we were taking on the ropes course and zip lines at Lava Hot Springs Zip Line.
Lava Hot Springs Zip Line-
Zip Lines are quite the adrenaline rush. A hike up to the take off deck, clip in, and off you go. The staff was helpful and friendly which added to the enjoyment. After taking each of the two zip lines twice, we were off to the “Ninja” ropes course. There was something for everyone here. If you were afraid of heights you were encouraged to conquer them but also offered the option to tackle the ground level of the course. The course was doable for most in our group but I must admit, it was taxing on the arms. The course proved that strength was not the only skill required. The course also took knowledge/skill to conquer portions. After the “Ninja” ropes course we tried numerous other skill-based obstacles. One included attempting to run back and forth on a teeter-totter bridge allowing neither side to hit the ground for a “pass” score. Although the staff demoed, and passed with flying colors, it was easier said than done. We did have many passes throughout the tries but more than a handful of fails as well. We also had the gals, of the group, climb into a globe like structure while the men spun the globe and attempted to hang from the sides using the momentum they had created.
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