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  1. #1

    Default American Rocky Mountains Road Trip.

    Not posted for a while although I regularly browse and enjoy reading what the many travellers experience. So decided it was time to add to the forum and share a trip experience my wife and I took a year or so back. Happy travels.

    Mid June, took a side trip from California to the North West of the US starting and finishing in Boise, visiting Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon. Great scenery, good places to stay and friendly people – just what we like.

    Day 1. We took a flight from SFO into Boise (boys-ee)– a compact and easy to get around airport. After collecting our luggage walked to car rentals nearby and we were soon on our way towards Sun Valley, about 150 miles away, arriving mid afternoon.

    In Hailey the town before our destination we saw a bill board advertising Bruce Willis singing in cabaret locally for one night. Obviously a man of many talents - believe he used to reside in Hailey.

    Stayed at the centrally located BW Kentwood Lodge in Main Street, Ketchum. A neat little town – had a look around and walked to Ketchum Cemetery where Ernest Hemingway is buried – he spent his last years in Ketchum. An author of many talents.

    In the evening took the car to Sun Valley resort which is adjacent to Ketchum. . A top winter ski resort where celebrities are known to visit spend their time. Looked into the upmarket Sun Valley Lodge and decided to have an evening meal nearby at the Ram restaurant. A very picturesque location.

    Day 2. After breakfast set off from Ketchum forJackson, Wyoming, for two nights, a journey of about 250 miles.

    Our first stop was at the Craters of the Moon National Monument. A moon like landscape where Neil Armstrong visited and trained for his moon trip. Wellworth a visit if in the area.

    Also passed through Arco the first ever community to received atomic generated electricity. The power station is still nearby.

    After Idaho Falls dropped down into Jackson via scenic Route 22 to our hotel at the Wyoming Inn for two nights. Found it to be a really good stay and nicely located. Looked around Jackson and then went for a beer in a bar across the road from the hotel. Nearby was a top notch takeaway Deli – delicious fresh food. So temping we had a takeaway deli two nights running.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-20-2013 at 02:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Always a pleasure to read Eris' trips

    Great field report -- thanks for sharing!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Nice.

    Aye, it's good to see you here. I'm looking forward to reading more about your adventures.


  4. #4


    Day 3. Up at the crack of dawn to be collected from the hotel at 6am for a pre-booked Wildlife tour by jeep in the Grand Teton National Park. The sun was just rising in a clear blue sky with the snow-capped Grand Teton Mountains as a backdrop – bliss. Although the “wildlife” side of the tour wasn’t high the tour certainly ticked our boxes.

    It was a return visit to one of my favourite US places. The bonus was the tour also covered the film location of Shane, around Kelly, a big motivational inspiration in my youth for visiting the USA and the Teton Mountains in particular.

    It was a joy just to mosey around the park area with an informative guide for four hours. No wolves or bears but an unexpected surprise was when we came across a pack of coyotes including young ones; a first for us. Also driving around we did come across many bison wandering the range. There were five of us in the jeep with a driver and guide – snacks provided.

    Visited the Moulton Barn, in Mormon Row, a well photographed scene in Jackson Hole with the Tetons as a backdrop. The barn is an icon of the old west and part of the Mormon settlement in the area. Took the obligatory snap shots.

    In the afternoon took a float trip, again with an informative guide, for about three hours through the Park along the Snake River which flows from nearby Yellowstone. Warm sunshine on our backs, the beauty of the park with the nearby Teton Mountains as a glorious backdrop - a day to treasure.

    And not our last trip on the Snake River because days later we take a boat through the exciting Hells Canyon.

    Finished off the day with a delicious deli meal and beer. An excellent end to the day.

  5. #5


    Thanks for the kinds words Mark and Dave.

    Day 4. Breakfast then set off from Jackson for Red Lodge, Montana – about 230 miles. Incidentally for those who are puzzled, as I used to be, Jackson is the town and Jackson Hole is the wider basin area.

    It was a day of wall to wall scenery starting with the Grand Teton Mountains, through Yellowstone and then over Beartooth Pass. It doesn’t get much better scenery wise. Having previously explored Yellowstone we just stopped at Canyon Village for refreshments after which made for the North East exit to Cooke City.

    With Beartooth Pass closed by snow over the winter months there are not many facilities along the way. Obviously weather dependent the Pass usually opens late May early June and closes mid-October.

    Cooke City has a real out-post feel to it and couldn’t resist a stop for coffee at a café called “Buns ‘n Beds”. Refreshed set off over Beartooth Pass - like being on top of the world, it was a sight for sore eyes.

    Being mid-June there was still ample snow on the tops which added to the scenic affect. It is billed as one of the most scenic highways in the US – I’ll certainly endorse that claim.

    At Red Lodge booked into The Pollard Hotel – an old historical building ; supposedly an old haunt of Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane. The hotel is in the touristy Main Street where we had a wander. A good place to stop.

    Day 5. Leave Red Lodge for Missoula – a 350 mile trip mainly along route 1-90. Even though an interstate highway it is a reasonably scenic ride. This journey well illustrates the size of the US as it is all within Montana.

    We laughed when we hit route 90 early on when the GPS spoke up with a comment like – “travel west for 200 miles”.
    Stopped in the railway town of Livingston for gas, food and a leg stretch. Then onwards past Butte, visited previously, a fantastic place to visit with its historical mining past.

    The next stop was interesting – Deer Lodge – where there is an old frontier prison which is now a museum. It was quiet an eye opener, as many parts have been left as once used. Also attached to the prison is a large collection of worthy vintage cars. It was a couple of hours well spent.

    Arrived at our hotel (Doubletree) located next to the river in Missoula. Having a balcony overlooking the river below and views of the surrounding countryside it was ideal for a two night stay.

    In the evening walked along the riverside footpath and came across a well-attended free organised music concert in the park near the river. Nothing like a good session of music to uplift the soul. The place was rocking, we sat down on the grass in the warm sunshine and soaked it all up along with the many others in the audience. A great tonic.

  6. #6


    Day 6. A chill out day in Missoula.

    Walk by the river, ride on the famous carousel, browse a few shops, coffee, people watch and generally relax – can’t put my finger on it but I like the feel of life in Missoula. Maybe it was the countryside lad in me coming out.

    Our plan B was to visit the nearby National Bison Range just north of Missoula, but we were happy with our first choice.

    On a previous visit to Missoula we spent a short time there and hoped to return. It is a thriving university town and is the trading centre for the area; the community spirit is self-evident - an ideal place for us to spend a chill out day. It is a place that very much warms to me.

    Day 7. After two nights in Missoula set off after breakfast for Stanley, Idaho, 250 miles away, taking the “Salmon Scenic River Byway”.

    Much of the road between Missoula and Salmon is part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. It was the first American overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back in 1802 – 1804. Easy to imagine, traveling along, that there would be many dangers and perils along the way, however their strong pioneering spirit saw them succeed.

    This part of the country is a huge wilderness area attracting all kinds of outdoor folk.

    Stop in Salmon (“River of No Return” country) for lunch. Wondered why it was so busy when we entered the restaurant and soon realised it was Father’s Day in the US and dads were being treated by their families. All the merry chatter made for a happy and lively occasion.

    Mid afternoon arrived at our destination at Redfish Lake Lodge, Stanley; log cabins among trees at the side of a beautiful lake overlooked by the Sawtooth Mountains – know it is a subjective comment but it is an absolutely idyllic place.

    In the evening in glorious sunshine treated to a concert by visiting musicians out on the lawn at the front of the lake. Very well performed and brought the day to an excellent close.

    After the show had chance to speak to the singer who was a very friendly man, David Andrews, who performed mainly in the North West area. Purchased one of his CD’s which I still play.

  7. #7


    Day 8. A day in and around the Stanley area - a small community with a much laid back approach to life. A picture perfect location with wonderful scenery enhanced by the Sawtooth Mountains and Salmon River. Bet the winters are tough in this area.

    There are many activities to choose from including white water rafting on the Salmon River, kayaking, horse riding, scenic trips and hiking. We did some mini hiking then in the afternoon opted for a motor boat trip exploring Redfish Lake.

    Our log cabin lent itself to eating in so we stocked up at the grocery store in Stanley – went partly alfresco on our outside veranda / decking both nights watching the sun set.

    Day 9. Pack up our suit cases again – amazing how you get organised with your clothing / items when you have to live out of the back of an SUV. Mind you it does help having spare space in the back of the vehicle so you’re not always carting everything backward and forward all the time.

    From Stanley head for McCall, located at the side of Payette Lake, 160 miles away, via the “Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway”. Another journey of picturesque mountain scenery through wilderness countryside.

    It is in remote places like this you have to keep an eye on the petrol gauge and not let it drop too far. I did have a cell (mobile) phone but it was hit and miss where it worked. Populated areas mostly OK but out in the sticks it didn’t work - seems many remote places are weak on cell phone use.

    Stop at Crouch in Garden Valley for refreshments – if you really wish to drop out of the fast lane here seems to be the place. Crouch really looks a non- worry place.

    On to our overnight stay at the Whitetail Resort, McCall. A great location at the side of the lake – a hotel for pampering if so minded.

    Drinks at the bar – there was a small group of seed merchants from the Great Plains with whom we struck up an entertaining conversation – was able to use my farming background to join in. Their “fields” were much bigger than the ones I was used to :- ) An enjoyable evening meal in the hotel with views over the lake.

    McCall, a place with some buzz for Idaho, was the location of the film Northwest Passage starring Spencer Tracy. Made in 1940 - what an age ago.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Thank You.

    Been really enjoying this report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eris View Post
    ... Redfish Lake Lodge, Stanley; log cabins among trees at the side of a beautiful lake overlooked by the Sawtooth Mountains – know it is a subjective comment but it is an absolutely idyllic place.
    Can't but agree. Stanley, with the Sawtooth Mountains and most of Central Idaho is one of my favourite regions in the US. Loved Redfish Lake. Did you stop at Stanley Lake on your way to Garden Valley? I take it you took the Ponderosa Scenic Highway.

    Such a joy reading your description of this area. Takes me back, even though this visit I will not be going near there.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-24-2013 at 03:44 PM.

  9. #9


    Thanks for your compliment Lifey, and pleased it has brought back some good memories. Although a past experience it gives me great pleasure to relive the moments and share them – and like you find it a joy to visit this wonderful part of the USA.

    Stanley Lake was on my list to do but as often happens on trips you run out of time. Bet I missed a treat!

    From Stanley took the Ponderosa Scenic Highway which I think goes to Boise but about half way along at Lowman we cut off along the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, which runs alongside the Payette River, and then this road joins the Payette River Scenic Byway which goes towards McCall. Three scenic byways in such a reasonable distance – how can you not like the area!

    Happy travel on your trip Lifey. Eris.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Helpful and enjoyable !

    I'm really enjoying your detailed report and even more so, as this is an area I have recently been researching for a future trip I have in mind. I'm sure it will be of great help to many others as well !


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