Colorado is our home state, and it is one of the BEST places to see fall colors. Even though we both grew up in Colorado, and we've each seen 20+ Colorado falls already in our lives, this year we got extreme FOMO by having been away from Colorado the past three years during its prime fall season. In our three years of full timing, we've screwed up our fall plans 3/3 years. By this, ...
We spent the entire summer of 2021 in Idaho. We didn’t have a lot of work lined up for this summer, as big film shoots were still canceled with COVID, and we honestly just didn’t seek out a lot of work so that we could actually enjoy our summer and get to experience a new place fully. We had a really busy May, and several small projects throughout the summer months, but nothing that required us to pick up and leave where we were or fly across the country and completely alter our plans., which seems to have happened to us a lot in the past.
So we had several goals for the summer, including to stay in places longer, drive less, and make more connections with people in our RV community, jet boat and dirt bike communities. We intended to use the mini jet boat a lot this summer, because we’ll be storing it again for the winter and potentially selling it next summer. Idaho is the best place for mini jet boating, so thats where we wanted to be for the whole summer. This was the first time we’d ever stayed in one state so long, but we had no reason to leave. Idaho has AMAZING dirt biking, rivers, camping, hiking, and small towns where we felt really safe. What with everything going on in this world right now, we had no reason to go spend time in big cities.
We mostly stayed in the southern half of Idaho this summer, we didn’t go into the northern panhandle at all. So we hit four main areas each for several weeks at a time: Riggins, McCall, the Sawtooths, and the Palisades.
Our first stop in Idaho was Lewiston for one day, right on the Oregon/Idaho border. Lewiston is a decent sized town, and right at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, two big wide scenic rivers. Motojet, a company that makes a different style of mini jet boat, is based there, and we stopped by to meet the owners who we’ve talked to before online and see their shop. Then we put our own boat in for the day and ran 40 miles up the Clearwater river. Water levels were too low to go play around in any of the tributary rivers that the jet boaters normally run in this area, but we still had a fun day exploring the Clearwater. It was unfortunate that the day we arrived in Idaho was literally the start of their fire season. About four or five fires had popped up in the surrounding hills on all sides of Lewiston just the day before. Locals we talked to were being evacuated and the haze was settling into the valley. Lewiston is only 700 feet high elevation, so it stays really hot all year round, barely gets any moisture in the summer, and clearly gets a pretty bad fire season. The sky was essentially white when we arrived. We took the boat out anyway, and we actually witnessed the fire fighting helicopters dropping down to the river to suck up water to put out one of the new fires. It was wild seeing them come down to the river right in front of us.
Since this was our first experience on Idaho rivers, we were excited to see all the white sand beaches that a lot of rivers in Idaho are known for.
We had to go to Riggins next for a film shoot. The main fork of the Salmon River goes through Riggins, and this is where we were filming an episode with mini jet boats. There’s lots of fun camping on the beaches along the river and we found a big spot on Island Bar for us and some other people meeting us for the film shoot, and we stayed there a full week. It was miserably hot, like 99 – 100 each day, sunny, and the gnats were out. We couldn’t leave a single light on at night camping or else the gnats would surround it and get in through our screens. We didn’t learn this until the second day after the first night we had 1000s of gnats in our camper. We had to leave the light on in the bathroom overnight just to attract them to one area so they weren’t swarming our heads overnight.
Riggins is a very tiny town, mostly full of rafting companies and raft guides (which are all like 18 year olds just there for the summer). We ate at the Seven Devils Steakhouse a few times, and it was good for a small town, but terribly slow. The better restaurant in town in our opinion is the Summerville’s Bar and Steakhouse. The interesting thing about Riggins is that it is on the border of Pacific and Mountain Time zones. Riggins is in mountain time, but Pacific Time starts at the bridge on the north end of town called the “Time Zone Bridge”. It made it very confusing because when you are camped too close to these time zone borders, iPhones cant handle it and keep switching time zones unless you tell it to automatically stick to one zone. This made it very difficult to figure out what time we were filming and meeting people for dinner, etc.
We actually spent time in Riggins twice this summer. We returned in August for another week long film shoot with Killgore Adventures, based in White Bird, just a half hour north of Riggins. They are a tour company for jetboat tours, fishing charters, UTV rentals, and rafting. This film shoot was a blast because we got to experience all these fun tours all week, not to mention the staff and owner, Kurt Killgore, were awesome people to hang out with. They had a full hook up RV spot for us behind their adventure shop, because two of their own staff, Isaac and Amanda, also live in their RV, and park behind the shop as well and run the Polaris UTV rental program all summer. So the Killgore’s are the OGs for jetboat tours on the Snake River in Hells Canyon. The Killgore family has lived in the White Bird Valley since the 1800s, and Kurt has probably ran the section of river through Hells Canyon more than anyone else ever! Their main tour is a six hour jet boat trip from Pittsburgh landing to the Hells Canyon Dam and it goes through class III-V rapids on their three engine 40 seat jet boat. It gets super wild, especially on the way back down. Everyone gets soaked, is screaming and laughing, and Hells Canyon is insanely beautiful. We even saw black bear, and this area is known for its sturgeon fishing. We didn’t even know what a sturgeon was before that week. They are literal river monsters that look prehistoric and can get up to 9 feet long and 500 pounds. They can be 100 years old, so you don’t actually take them out of the water when you catch one. Killgore Adventures also does sturgeon fishing charters on their smaller jet boats, and you get to experience the rapids and go fishing. They are also right at the base of multiple national forests and Hells Canyon Recreation area, and have 1000s of miles of trails for their UTV rentals.
I’m not kidding when I say we saw the most variety of unique wildlife with Killgore Adventures than I think I’ve ever seen in a day. While we were there we saw moose, black bear, sturgeon, big horn sheep, mountain goats, bald eagle, deer, and elk. I also want to point out that Hells Canyon is actually the deepest canyon in the United States. The Grand Canyon markets itself as the deepest, but Hells Canyon is actually the deepest at 8,000 feet deep from the surrounding He Devil mountain.
We got to go on the jet boat tour three times that week while filming, and UTVing in the surrounding mountains twice. We had no idea White Bird was surrounded by so much recreation, so we’ll definitely be back next year to experience more. White Bird and Riggins are 1500 – 1800 feet elevation, so they still get insanely hot during the summer, but have more of a mild winter. The surrounding mountains get snow, but the towns itself stay pretty mild. One of the best parts was being there during the fruit harvest season for all the locally grown crops. The family of one of the girls we filmed with runs the fruit stand at Fiddle Creek, and brought fresh fruit for us every day while filming. Watermelon, peaches, and HUCKLEBERRIES! Huckleberries are $80 a gallon, so this was a real treat. Oh and she even brought us pies. So on our way out of town we stopped to stock up. We bought boxes of peaches and pears and got watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and banana bread, huckleberry syrup and huckleberry tea. The prices were so good we literally would’ve bought even more, but I didn’t think we’d be able to eat in before going bad. We already were eating like 3 peaches a day each and then 3 pears a day each when those became ripe too. We’re obsessed with fresh peaches during peach season, so we cant wait for peach season all year.
Apart from filming, we did get to take our boat on the Salmon River twice. The first time was in the beginning of summer, when we still didn’t have much white water river experience in the jet boat. After filming other jet boats all week though, Blake was gaining confidence for trying to take ours in some smaller rapids. We ran a 15 mile stretch upriver from Riggins that had a few ripples and maybe a class II rapid, and turned around before the Class III rapids started.
Back in April and May, Blake and our friend Dan had been trying to install an IBR (International Brake and Reverse) system into our boat, which would allow us to switch from forwards to reverse with a trigger on the steering wheel which raises the bucket covering the jet up and down. The problem was that the bucket kept getting snagged, and they couldn’t figure out what was the cause. They’d been replacing cables and motors and even replaced the bucket. It worked on the boat trailer but didn’t have enough pull to work when submerged in the water. Anyway, since the project was half done, this was still an issue for us in the beginning of summer, and we had to essentially just strap the bucket up with a rope so that the boat could just be in forwards until we figured out the issue. As we were going into one of the bigger ripples on the river (a class II), the rope holding the bucket came loose, causing the bucket to fall down, so we were essentially stuck in neutral while trying to get through this rapid! I essentially had to climb over the back of the boat to grab the strap and yank it up so that Blake could get back into forwards, all while bobbing up and down in the wave train of the rapid. I’m already freaked out by the white water and was hesitant to go with Blake on more technical rivers, so this didn’t help! But we made it through and strapped the bucket up better to get back down river.
Our second time on the Salmon was after filming with Killgore a month later. By then we had a lot more river experience, but also the water level was way lower. We ran from White Bird upriver all the way to Riggins and up another 10 miles to the same spot we’d turned around the first time on the river. The section between White Bird and Riggins has several class III rapids that looked so big when we were there in July, but now looked so small since the water had come down so much. Even though they weren’t as big, now we had to watch out for exposed rocks because some of these rapids looked like a minefield. We took Isaac and Amanda out in the boat after our shoot, and I felt good knowing that they have more white water experience than we do. Each time we came up one of the big rapids, we’d see all the exposed boulders and couldn’t believe that we’d get through it, and then with everyone’s help scouting, we’d find the best line, and the mini jet boat just pulled right through. But we did love tap one boulder on the way up. Downstream was a totally different story because you can’t see all the exposure until you’re in it. We had to pull over and scout a few times. Blake did super good driving too. By this point in the summer he was feeling way more comfortable driving through the rapids. And Blake totally ran over a rock on the way down because he was looking back at the rapids we had just come through, and didn’t see it until I yelled at him. But we survived. And we had a really funny encounter on this day. There were tons of rafters on the river that day, and one drift boat guide could not believe that we were running these rapids in our jet boat at the current water levels. He couldn’t believe it so much that he actually followed us along the highway on our way back down river to watch us get through them. We noticed this car pulling over at every rapid and filming us, so we had to stop to talk to him. Blake even got out and scouted one of the rapids with him, and I think he was pretty impressed when we made it through.
So at this point in the summer we’d made some modifications to our jet boat. First, we fixed the IBR system that wasn’t working that first time on the Salmon. After trying so many different things, Blake mostly figured out that the IBR wasn’t working because the bushings on the bucket were worn out. It took like three tries to order the correct ones, but we eventually got a new set ordered and its seemed to work fine after that install. Second, we bought an inducer impeller and new wear ring, which handles whitewater better. Back in May on our Canyonlands River trip, the boat couldn’t even get on step with three people and all our camp gear. With the new inducer impeller, the boat snaps out of the water instantly, and bringing four people in the river was a good test that it can handle the weight. It’s a shame we didn’t get that before the Utah river trip or it would’ve solved all our problems. Having both of these things fixed on the boat was essential for us to start trying any white water. With the IBR, we can go into neutral and reverse in order to scout rapids ahead of time and reposition as needed. Prior to this we only had forwards. Our old impeller was worn out and just couldn’t get us on step out of the water fast enough. That’s essential too for playing in rapids, because sometimes you want to just butter up the rapids, and slowly climb up them, and then be able to punch the throttle at the top. We wouldn’t have been able to do any of the rivers we did this summer without those two fixes.
We spent a few weeks hanging around McCall and dirt biking in the Payette National Forest north of McCall in July, and again in late August. For a small town in Idaho, McCall was really busy. Anytime we talked with locals they’d say how all of Idaho is exploding with growth right now with Californians moving in. Traffic is getting way worse and the cities are expanding. McCall reminds me of some of Colorado’s touristy mountain towns, like a small Breckenridge. There’s a small main street with shops and tons of tourists, and the town borders Payette Reservoir. We liked it because it was a big enough town to have real grocery shops, Fedex shipping, good enough cell signal, and an Amazon locker, but also situated right in the national forest, with access to camping and recreation within minutes. McCall is at 5,000 ft elevation, so its not as hot in the summer as some of the areas we’d spent time previously in 100 degree weather. There are also ski resorts ten minutes from town, so the town must get a decent winter. We spent several days camped on the outskirts of town in a big staging area for horse and UTV riding, because we needed a place to work for several days, and it was close enough to town to still have good cell signal, but also in the forest so we weren’t just stealth camping in the city. Honestly it was pretty ideal for what we needed at the time, and to get out of the heat from Riggins. Also this time of year and being farther north, the sun wasn’t setting until 10 pm so it was super awesome having those long days. When we got our work done, we were able to experience some of McCall’s local recreation:
Little Payette Reservoir: Not far from the big reservoir in town that is crowded with motor boats and people is the Little Payette Reservoir. We took our mini jet boat out for a late afternoon spin, and the lake was empty. The wild thing about this lake was that it was like a flooded forest. There were all these stumps sticking out of the water, making it super hazardous for normal prop boats, but super interesting for our mini jet boat. Some of the stumps were only a foot out of the water, some were ten feet out of the water. It was like a video game driving in between them and dodging them. The sides of the lake got super marshy and glassy water as well so we played around there. There’s a river fork coming off the lake too that we could explore for a quarter mile before it got too shallow. It got super narrow and glassy until we had to turn around.
Cascade Reservoir: This is just a giant reservoir 30 minutes south of McCall that isn’t too spectacular, but we went there, first to find a RV dump, and second, because we had to test the boat after Blake finally got those new bushings for the boat and installed them. It was a busy reservoir, but we went out at sunset hoping it wouldn’t be so choppy. We found some smoother water by an island in the lake to hang out in, and we also drove all the way to the north end of the reservoir to check out where the Payette River enters the reservoir. Blake wanted to see if the river would be runnable from there, but we actually didn’t have enough gas in the tanks to go any farther that day anyway.
Hazard Lake: We drove an hour north of McCall into the Hazard Lake recreation area, where there are several campgrounds, small alpine lakes, and lots of dirt bike and horse trails. We dispersed camped here for several days and got the first rain we’d seen in a long time! This area is above 8,000 feet, so it felt so good to be back in a high alpine environment after being at such low elevations for a while. There wasn’t much cell signal, so we had to hike up a nearby hill to get good service.
The first day we rode here, we went on a mega loop that Blake picked out after researching some trails on a Patreon, and not only did we get off on a rough start, we also didn’t make it back to camping until 10 pm that night because the trails were so gnarly! The first mistake was not leaving camp to ride until noon. Then we missed a rerouted trail, ended up in a bunch of sloppy mud, and wasted time trying to find where the trail went. Then we wasted more time on our phones getting service on the trail. Then when we went to keep riding the loop the trail got infinitely more difficult. We came up to this loose set of switchbacks that essentially went straight down a mountainside, Blake had to walk my bike down for me. The switchbacks put us in a hole in a valley between two mountains and it took hours to go the next couple miles. The trail just kept disappearing, even when looking on both Gaia and OnX. We were constantly off the trail, retracing our steps, and then just trying to connect the most direct way to where we thought the trail went, sometimes just having to get up a few boulders. At this point we really didn’t want to turn around, and knew we’d be getting back late, but also had no idea what laid ahead of us. Blake was pretty much riding his bike over boulders and then walking back to ride mine. It was so brutal. I definitely had a meltdown at one moment. We ran out of water at 6 pm, leaving ourselves just a few sips left for emergencies. We were so dehydrated, goggles fogged, and tired from all the work. It took hours, but we made it out of that valley and onto a ridge line we thought would be better. We knew we just had to connect a bit more single track to get back to an ATV trail and then the road to take us back to camp. We kept going down one trail that looked like a shortcut, but then just also turned out to be boulders, so we turned around and added on even more mileage by going even farther to a different single track to get to that ATV trail. This saved us because it was an easier trail despite the extra mileage. Sometimes you can’t trust a short cut in Idaho. There were definitely a couple moments I thought we’d be getting back in the middle of the night, but once we made it to the ATV trail I knew we’d make it back. We would’ve been in trouble any other time of year when the sun didn’t set so late. We had ten minutes left of dusk when we got back to camp. We had to take the next day off because we were so beat. We only rode one other day before having to head back into town to get better service, and it was a small loop right by camp so we didn’t risk another insane day. It’s just crazy that some of the trails in Idaho don’t get ridden enough that they just get too overgrown to even see. You really have to rely on cairns and ribbons which a lot of local riders will try to maintain. Neither of our GPS mapping apps were exactly accurate either, so we couldn’t rely on that. After spending all summer riding in Idaho, we found a lot of trails on the map just don’t exist in real life. We’d ride out to where it’s supposed to start and there just wouldn’t be an entrance, or it would be so full of downed logs in the first ten feet that you immediately know its not rideable. Sometimes trails were just rerouted and there’d be a different connection a bit farther along the trail. A lot of trails in Idaho are in burn areas where new logs fall every week, so you have to ride with a saw or prepare to lift bikes. We don’t have a saw small enough to bring on the bikes. With all these obstacles, we really had to rely on downloaded Satellite layers on OnX, sometimes just turning around, or riding a different trail.
We returned to this area in late August when our friend Max came to visit to ride and do some filming for one of our moto clients. At this time of year the ground brush had turned a beautiful burnt orange and red color and it looked awesome at sunset. There weren’t many aspen trees to change color since we were at higher elevation, but the ground foliage was a really beautiful fall color in itself. We took him on the first part of that mega loop before the crazy switchbacks, because it was a great location for our film shoot up on some crazy beautiful ridge lines. After Max left, Blake and I did one more loop in the area that took us up some mountains covered in lava rock and up to a fire lookout tower that is actually staffed in the summer. The trail itself was incredible. The whole mountainside was covered in red brush, which contrasted with the lava rock and bright blue alpine lakes. Shockingly, this trail was more maintained and had been cut, and we didn’t have any navigational errors this time. We were also surprised to find that the lookout tower was staffed. I thought all fire watches were done via satellite now. And we were bummed that the guy living there didn’t want to come out of the tower to talk to us. We would’ve asked him so many questions about living up there alone.
Overall we really loved this riding area. It took a good hour in our truck to get there from McCall on a washboard dirt road, but there are so many more trails up there to explore and connections to other areas that we’ll definitely be back to explore.
Trail Creek Hot Springs:
Fifty miles from McCall, this is one of my favorite hot springs we’ve visited in Idaho because it was clean, deep, and good temperature. It also has easy access to a highway and parking area, which means that it’s more crowded, but there are four big pools so plenty of room for several groups. The pools are built up right along a shallow river, and there are valves to add the hot water seeping out of the rock and the cold water from the river, so you can get it to the perfect temperature. We came here twice and soaked for hours.
This is a recreation area east of the Cascade Reservoir with a lake, lodge, camping, horse and dirt bike trails. We came out here when it was still super hot in July, but there was so much smoke coming from California wildfires that the smoke almost insulated us from some of the heat. It was weird the sky was so white. The lake had a nice public beach but we were there on a weekend and didn’t hang out too long. This area had no cell service at all unless we were on top of a mountain, so we only stayed a couple days, and we also found that a lot of the trails hadn’t been cut or maintained, making it difficult to make a good loop. We ended up on a three mile trail that should’ve been super easy but took us a whole hour because we had to get over about 20 logs. Normally we have a 3 log rule where if we come up to 3 logs then we have to turn around. We broke the rule this time since we knew the trail was so short and we kept getting to long stretches that were clear, and then we’d get to another 5 downed logs. You get to a point where you assume there will be fewer logs in front of you than the amount you’ve already crossed, so you just keep going. A lot of the burn area was in lodgepole pine, these super straight tall skinny trees. Too tall to pull out of the way, but if they didn’t crash all the way to the ground, were too high to go over and too low to go under. At one point Blake had to shoulder press one up for me to get the bikes under. It got brutal and we said after that we had to abide by the 3 log rule at all times going forward in Idaho. We were able to do a 9 mile trail that was super fast and flowy, but after attempting 3 more trails that were either uncut or impassable, we decided to do more of a scenic day on some of the dirt roads, checking out other camp sites and stopping at a scenic area known for salmon spawning. We still had really long days in July, so we also just used time to get some projects done. We didn’t get to see as much of this area as we would’ve liked but it was still worth checking out.
We spent a few days in Boise in the end of July getting errands done, packages shipped, restocking the rig, and working on the boat in a Planet Fitness/Home Depot parking lot for two days. This is where Blake installed that new inducer impeller. We also had to find a fabricator shop to help us with a project on Blake’s bike.
After all that, we were invited to a group mini jet boat run up the Payette River starting from Horseshoe Bend all the way to Banks, Idaho. This section has several class III rapids and it was our first time running anything of that level. It was perfect timing to learn with the local guys we went out with. Some of them had run this section tons of times, and we were able to follow their line through the rapids and learn how to get through them the right way. There were four or 5 boats with us that day, and we did the entire section of river twice to really get the practice in the rapids. Like I said before, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without that inducer impeller, and it performed spectacular for us that day. It was so funny to watch some of the other guys in the rapids because they intentionally hit the waves hard to make a big splash and get air, even though I was freaking out and panicking every time we’d come up to a bigger rapid. Going down was even scarier. But at the end of the day the truth was that I was more mad that it wasn’t as scary as I expected. I’d go into each rapid so scared and then be annoyed when it wasn’t a big deal. Blake was totally chill though, he thought it was really good experience and wanted to do the rapids all multiple times. We definitely got wet though. That’s the thing about our Jetstream boat. It doesn’t have a good way of deflecting the water off the front of the boat, so it just goes straight into our faces. Blake put us into a hole at the bottom of a rapid once too though sending a huge wave of water over us. We got out of the water that day about ten minutes before a huge rainstorm hit, dropping an inch of rain in the Boise area, more than they normally get for the whole month, and hopefully it made a huge difference for the fires.
The Sawtooths, Idaho
We spent about three weeks in the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, Idaho in August this summer. First we camped on the west side of town in a dispersed camping area by Stanley Lake. It has awesome views of the Sawtooth Range, big camp spots, and close to trails. A group of dirt bike friends from California were coming out to camp with us and ride with Blake for a week. They had some really long trail days planned, but also just wanted to chill and camp too. They rode all the way to Clayton to eat lunch at the Sawmill Station one day. They rode all the way to the Sourdough lodge for lunch another day. Tons of fast difficult single track, and several pavement miles getting back. I was camp mom and hung back because I can’t keep up on those kind of rides. A lot of it was repeat miles Blake did last summer on the R’Idaho Grit 3 ride, and some of the guys had been there before too.
We took them out in the boat on Stanley Lake, which we were surprised to learn was motorized. We wanted to take them out in the boat on a river, but the group had grown to be about 10 guys, so it was easier to take them on a lake so we could easily give everyone a turn. This is a pretty small lake with lots of kayakers, and we went on a weekend, so they didn’t exactly get the full experience, but they found some fun stuff to play around in and we barbecued on the beach, took turns in our kayaks, and it was a beautiful sunny warm day. One of the nights we went into lower Stanley for dinner at the Bridge Street grill, and unfortunately it was a very disappointing experience because small towns cannot find good help right now. There was one server for the entire upstairs of the restaurant, and they struggled with availability of menu items. For a steak place, all the steaks came out looking the same regardless of what they ordered, and were over cooked. I know it’s tough for restaurants right now, but they should alter their menu based on what the restaurant has available and capacity to prepare instead of misleading their customers.
Well I think those guys had a fun trip, and it kicked off the next month of caravaning with friends, because we spent the next two weeks camping with two other full timers. We briefly met Jake and Nicoll of @livingtinywithawolf in March of this year when we were camped at Kingman Wash in Arizona. They saw our rig, and messaged us on Instagram saying we followed each other and we should come say hi. We were actually in the middle of getting a ton of work done so that we would be free for our Hawaii trip, so we were tempted to blow off the message. It’s so funny how certain things work out though, because we did end up going to meet them that day, which initiated this great new friendship we have with them, and they reached out again in the middle of summer telling us they were getting dirt bikes and we should meet up. Coincidentally they were also planning to go to Stanley the first week of August, so it totally worked out to camp together and hang out. We ended up camping together for about two weeks in Stanley. We were totally down to make new dirt bike friends, and these guys have three dogs so we were in heaven getting to play with them every day. To explain their Instagram handle, they have a three year old wolf dog hybrid, Cruze, who is 57% grey wolf. He’s so tall and has the wolf characteristics, but they’ve raised him to not be aggressive, and he is actually lowest in the ranking of the pack of their other dogs, and is really just a big cry baby/teddy bear.
It’s harder to find similar friends when you’re an adult. But finding people who truly share your values in life is important, and we discovered that these guys were similar to us in a lot of ways. Spending time with them in Stanley started what I think will be a long term friendship with these two. We’ve already taught each other so much in the time we’ve spent together all summer. And it’s a bonus hanging out with them because their 28 foot RV has room for all of us and their dogs to hang out in when the weather sucks. It’s an even bigger bonus finding friends that aren’t stuck with a 9-5 work schedule and can explore on our schedule. We drive a lot for work when we have to go to gigs all over the country, but these guys are fully remote and location independent on their own schedule, so that’s really cool and we’ve enjoyed learning about their digital business.
Anyway, Stanley actually has some really hard trails, so we had to find some easier ones for these guys to get some initial practice in, and overall they did so good. We’ve camped with them twice more since Stanley, so it has actually been really cool seeing how much they’ve improved over the 3 months we’ve known them, each time we meet up getting more and more practice on different technical terrain.
One cool thing about Idaho is the wider acceptance of motorsports. There is less of a battle between nonmotorized and motorized recreation, and we even went on some trails that even we were surprised we were allowed to be on. This was the case on the trail out to Lady Face Falls from Stanley Lake. It’s fully legal to ride dirt bikes on the trail until the falls, and then it becomes nonmotorized. But the trail is like a super well maintained hiking path, all smoothed out with rocks on the side, and it just felt wrong to be on it on our bikes. And it was super crowded with hikers that were surprised to see us as well. Luckily it was only a couple miles so we weren’t bugging the hikers for too long. The falls at the end required a less than quarter mile walk, but you have to scramble down the side of a rocky hill to even see the falls, which only Nicoll and I were willing to do while the boys waited.
One of the California guys from the guys riding trip, Ian, also stuck around with us since the rest of them had left. He also full times in his small motor home, pulling his Dirtbike and ADV bike behind him on a small trailer.
After we’d exhausted all the trails by Stanley Lake, we all moved camp to another dispersed area by Redfish Lake. This area ended up being pretty popular, but we snagged a big spot for our group on a Sunday night as others were leaving. We spent almost ten days at this spot though, doing a mix of riding, hiking, kayaking and working. Blake was deep in the middle of a huge editing project that he had to work on for several days. Nicoll and I went into Ketchum one day to run errands in a bigger town, and did laundry one day too. Blake and Ian and Jake went on some boy rides, I got a flat one day and couldn’t join. Nicoll and I also did a very underwhelming hike one day to Yellow Belly Lake. We really wanted to do a big hike day to Sawtooth Lake, but the smoke was so bad we didn’t think it would be healthy or worth it if the views were obstructed. We did one more ride with all of us. But mostly we just had a really good time hanging out with friends each night since we so often are camped by ourselves. We did family dinner each night in their rig since they have such a nice big table and recliners. We played with and walked the dogs. We had the luxury of watching a movie on their big screen. Overall it was shocking how quickly time flew before it was time to separate from our caravan. Blake and I had to leave them to go back to White Bird for that shoot with Killgore Adventures. But we had such a good time before leaving.
Some of our favorite parts of Stanley were:
Redfish Lake: We took Jake and Nicoll in the mini jet boat on Redfish lake, which is much bigger than Stanley Lake, but also has amazing views of the sawtooth range. We did a few laps around the lake, flew the drone, floated in the inflatable tubes and took in the views.
Sunbeam Hotsprings: Only about 20 minutes from our camp, we went to soak in these free natural hot springs. There’s multiple pools built up on the side of the river, and a few cauldrons/bath tubs that fill from water being piped in. You can build up the pools to be the perfect temperature with the river water, but the pools are also rather shallow. We came here the previous summer and it was crowded on an August evening. This time there were only a few groups, and we stayed until past 10 pm so there was hardly anyone around when we left.
Cove Creek Hot Springs: This one is just a few turns west of Sunbeam on the same river, but only has two pools, so it’s best to get it to yourself. We went back another night after Sunbeam and decided to try this one instead and got lucky it wasn’t taken. Since no one was around they were able to bring their dogs down to hang out in the river and chill with us. These pools are also rather shallow, and a couple of the pools have giant rocks in the middle that aren’t really moveable. We had to really mess with the arrangements of the pools to get them to the right temp, but these ones were fun to not have to share with anyone.
Sawtooth City: On our final night with Jake and Nicoll we went out for dinner for burgers at the Smiley Creek Lodge, 20 minutes away in Sawtooth City. They have awesome grass fed burgers. I got a fig jam Brie burger and it was so worth it. The employee there was also stoked to meet Cruze the Wolf Dog.
Lookout Mountain Fire Tower: Blake and I went out on our own one of the afternoons to dirt bike to this lookout tower at 9895 feet. We gained over 3,000 feet elevation from our camp in getting there, and the last mile of the trail was insanely gnarly and steep. Loose, steep dirt and having to go over giant boulders at the same time. I was struggling! Blake had to keep coming back for me and ride my bike for me. It was so funny because we’d barely seen anyone out on the trails all week, we felt like we were so remote, I’m yelling at Blake to help me, and then we hear a hooping and hollering. Turns out a guy from Moab, Dean, was at the top of the lookout tower cheering us on as we made the tough climb up. He was out riding solo and was stoked to hear two more dirt bikers coming up, because honestly, he wanted to ride back down with us since he was alone and the trail had got so gnarly. The fire tower at top was awesome but the sky was still pretty smokey blocking a lot of views. We chilled with Dean at the top for a while and turns out we knew a lot of the same people in the Motorsport industry, and then headed back down. The downhill was a lot easier than the uphill and we made it back before dark.
Little Redfish Lake: This smaller lake was right across the highway from where we camped, and is really the perfect size for paddling. The water is crystal clear in some spots and sandy underneath. You have an epic view the whole time. We paddled around to some shallow spots to play with the dogs. Jake and Nicoll have two two-seater hard sided kayaks so that they can bring their dogs with them. They have such a funny dynamic though. Bella, the husky, will chill casually at the front of the kayak just watching the water. Gunner, with some sort of Pointer in him, will jump out of the kayak at any moment to catch a fish. And Cruze the wolf dog, will squirm and try to escape because he doesn’t like feeling off balance. So they got the idea to tie the kayaks together to make a party barge that would feel more stable and give the dogs more room to walk around. It was the best idea ever. I think the dogs loved it, solved all the problems and got the whole family on the boats together. And it was hilarious to watch. Blake and I even tried to steal Bella into our pack rafts to see what it would be like to kayak with a dog. I know people do it, but it did not feel super ideal and thought her claws could puncture it. There’s a lot of other little lakes in Stanley to kayak on that we want to check out next time.
We spent our final two weeks of the summer in Palisades, Idaho on the eastern border with Wyoming. There is an amazingly beautiful dispersed camping area just northwest of the Palisades reservoir and dam, that our friend Ian had been to before and suggested we all go. Jake and Nicoll also joined us and we spent about two weeks camped here. This is one of our new favorite areas not only because the camping was beautiful, but it’s also right on a section of the Snake River good for jet boating, and right next to national forest access for dirt biking. Also there wasn’t a fire ban in eastern Idaho this late in the summer so we were able to have our first camp fire probably since April.
The camping here is like a huge open field in the valley between the mountains and the river. It’s wide open and grassy and we got to start seeing some of the fall colors pop up in the hillsides while we were there. We showed up right at Labor Day weekend, and it was quite crowded, so we took whatever spot we could, and then moved closer to the river after everyone left.
What we noticed in Idaho all summer is that the locals seem to drop off their own camper rigs in dispersed areas in the best spots and then leave them there all summer, and return each weekend. Almost every spot along the river was taken by unhitched trailers with no one around. At first it made it seem like the area was really busy until we realized what was going on. It’s pretty frustrating because they’ve taken some of the nicest spots and aren’t even there but two days a week. Plus there should be 14 day stay limits on most national forest land. I think it’s common because so many tourists are now coming to Idaho that the locals feel like they have to protect their own camping spots or something. It wasn’t just hunting camps either. We noticed lots of hunting camps farther back in the mountains. These were just locals or retirees or something.
So in our twelve days here we went on multiple dirt bikes rides, took the boat out three times on the river, kayaked the river twice, and several hikes. Palisades is also only an hour and a half from the entrance into the Grand Teton National Park, so Nicoll and I also went into the park as a day trip for some sight seeing and short hikes. Jake and Nicoll haven’t done as much traveling in Wyoming because Cruze their “exotic” wolf dog isn’t allowed into Wyoming without a permit, so it was fun for Nicoll to get to see some of the park since we left the dogs with the boys for the day.
I’ve had bad luck with injuries lately. First, when we were in Stanley, I tried out Nicoll’s one-wheel, and fell immediately and twisted my knee pretty bad. Then in Palisades I fell on one of our first rides and hurt my wrist. Both were really dumb injuries and caused me not to be able to ride as much as I wanted. I rode through the pain on a couple days just so that I could get to experience some of the trails there before we left. The trails were really cool, all single track, up on high ridge lines and if it hadn’t been so smokey you could see all the way to the Tetons. There was actually one trail that went to a remote natural hot spring. It was like a horse camp, and the spring was really clean and deep and perfect temperature. We’d barely seen anyone out riding all week, so we were so surprised when a few other riders showed up to the hot spring. Three big dudes showed up and joked they forgot their swim suits, so we were like, well it’s time for us to leave anyway! There were a few nice two track trails for Nicoll to learn on as well, and the nice thing about this area was that we had direct access to trails from camp without having to get on any busy roads or anything.
The section of the Snake River here was perfect for our mini jet boat. It’s 77 miles of navigable riverway that allows motorized travel. It’s all flat water with fun little channels to explore on all sides of the river. The water was really low that time of year. You could see how much the water had dropped in the reservoir. It was still enough to run the boat except in a few of the channels that were really low and had some rocks exposed. Most of the river was lush with marshy river banks. It was prime moose territory, and we saw moose every time we took the boat on the river. We also saw so many bald eagles we lost count. We took Jake and Nicoll out for a couple hour ride and went about twenty miles down from our camp. With them we saw one moose, and also got the boat stuck when we turned up a channel we shouldn’t have. We had to walk the boat out to deeper water, hold the back down for Blake to get on step without us, and then the three of us walked back through the channel over river rocks to the boat. Another day our friend Greg happened to be driving from Montana to New Mexico and we told him to route through eastern Idaho so we could take him out in the boat. We drove to a different launch so that we could explore the next twenty miles of river and he had so much fun. With him we saw three moose. Blake also took Ian out for another afternoon ride so that everyone could get a chance to go, and they saw three moose as well.
The best part about this river was the Fall Creek Falls, this beautiful waterfall on the side of the river just a few miles up from camp that we were able to jet boat past every time. The waterfall is so cool because it has all the different layers and pools and is covered in moss. It looked so sulfuric that we thought it was a hot spring at first, but it definitely wasn’t. We parked the boat and walked all around the waterfall.
One day we also kayaked 11 miles of the river starting from camp and ending just after the waterfall. Since we were camped with our friends still, and Jake’s brother was visiting, we shuttled one of their trucks down to another boat launch after the waterfall, and then put our kayaks in right at camp. We were going about 5 mph because the water was moving pretty fast from the dam release, so we were able to make it to the waterfall in just a couple hours. We barely had to paddle. There was only one or two sections of the river with any ripples. Jake and Nicoll’s hard sided kayaks aren’t really meant for rivers, but they did really good, and they only brought one dog this time so not to worry about getting flipped with the dogs. We found a few smaller channels to turn down too to make it more interesting.
The fall colors were really starting to pop, and in Idaho the colors are more pink and orange rather than bright yellow aspens, so we took a couple nice fall hikes. We hiked part of the Big Elk Creek trail which gradually climbed along a creek through the fall colors and popped out into an open valley. We also hiked along part of the Palisades Creek Trail, which was very similar, being a gradual climb along a creek through the fall colors. These were both longer trails, but perfect for picking your own length because neither of them really get to an iconic ‘destination’ like a lake or waterfall that you have to see, but instead just kind of gradually go along the river with beautiful views the whole time. There are tons and tons of trails in this palisades area, but since most of them were motorized, we’d rather just ride our dirt bikes on them instead of hike.
On our day into the Tetons, we did more of a quick sightseeing tour rather than big hikes. In the past when I’ve been to the Tetons it’s for several days and I’ve done several big 12-16 mile hikes, because the park is really known for good packbacking. This time we only had a few hours to explore, so we hit all the best viewpoints. We started at Mormon Row and then went to Schwabachers Landing to take photos while the light was still good on the mountains in the morning. Mormon row is the iconic barn shot in front of the Tetons. Schwabachers Landing is a nice spot at a river bend in front of the Tetons, and was really golden color at this time of year. Then we went to String Lake to eat lunch on the lake shore, and then walk along the path to get more views of the Tetons along String Lake and Leigh Lake. We did another quick stop for views by Jenny Lake, and then stopped in the t shirt shops at Dornan’s on our way out of the south entrance of the park. It was a lot of driving for one day, especially for Nicoll driving their truck, but worth it since we were already so close. We’ve definitely got to benefit by hanging out with them all summer by me and Nicoll taking their truck to do errands and adventures all the time, without having to move our own rig. We are used to packing up and moving everything anytime we go anywhere, but since these guys do a pull behind trailer, they just take their truck separately to go anywhere after setting up camp.
It was a perfect place to spend our final two weeks in Idaho because there was just so much to explore, and got to spend it with our new friends. We had to leave Idaho mid September to head to Colorado to see family and celebrate my grandpa’s 100th birthday! From the east side of Idaho it was only a 9 hour drive home, so we made the drive in one day and planned to stay in Colorado through the fall.