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  1. #1

    Default 3 day round trip from Boise, Idaho?

    Hi Roadtrippers,

    Well, if the feedback I get this time is just half as good as it was this time last year I'll be forever grateful. However, rather than a road trip it's more of a road hop - just 3 days ... and starting/finishing in the same place.

    I've found myself in the fortunate and unexpected position of being paid to fly from the UK to Boise on business at the beginning of March. I aim to take advantage of this by tagging on 3 days at the end and would really value the input of anyone who can offer recommendations or advice on a possible route and any issues I should be aware of re. the weather/driving conditions/road closures.

    The two destinations that have caught my eye are Hells Canyon and Craters of the Moon. Don't suppose it'd be possible to visit both would it? I'm really tied on time: all I have is from first thing Friday to last thing Sunday (and I've got to pick & and drop off the hire car on those days too!).

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Doable? Depends

    Greetings, vambo25, and welcome back to the forum!

    Boise-Craters of the Moon-Hell's Canyon-Boise is roughly 800 miles. So, yes, this is do-able in 2.5 days. However, you won't have much time to explore either area. Unless, of course, you can get by on little sleep and still drive safely, saving up your sleeping for the plane trip home!

    Hell's Canyon is difficult to access. The best way to see it is really via a river trip. Do you plan to try to make time for something like that? Or are you simply going to try and find a viewpoint to look into the canyon? I'm not convinced that would be worth the effort. However, the drive up to the Hell's Canyon area can be gorgeous in and of itself is you go through McCall-Pollock-Riggins areas. This goes through some beautiful forests and along a great river. Breathtaking views.

    I've been near Hell's Canyon numerous times but have only been there once. We didn't have the cash to take the whole family on a river-rafting trip and I didn't feel like we really saw much of the canyon without doing that. Most of this area is inaccessible via land routes. Maybe someone knows about viewpoints that I'm unaware of. If so, I hope they'll share. I just think without doing a river trip, you'll be disappointed in what you can actually see.

    Here's what I might consider doing if I were you.

    From Boise, head north on Route 55 and drive through Horseshoe Bend, Cascade Bend, McCall. Just west of McCall, take 95 North to through Riggins to Grangeville. At Grangeville, take 7/62 north to Nez Perce, then 64 to Kamiah, then 12 to Lola, Montana. From Lola, take 93 South to Arco. Then Route 20 to Craters of the Moon. Then you'll take Route 20-Route 26-I84 to Boise.

    This route is about 850 miles. Yes, that's a LOT of miles in 2.5 days. But you'll be driving through some of the most amazing scenery anywhere. This will include the Payette National Forest, along the amazing Payette River, through the Nez Perce Indian Reservation....lots of very cool sights. The stretch on Hwy 12 will take you along the Clearwater River known as a "wild and scenic" road. Some of the most breath-taking scenery I've ever seen.

    If you decide to do these routes, you will spend a LOT of time on the road but it will be worth it, imho. Once you get to Craters of the Moon, it's not long back to the interstate where you can cruise along back to Boise. But this route is on narrow, very twisty/curvy, 2-lane roads with lots of drop-offs. It's not for the faint of heart or someone who is uncomfortable driving for long distances. Since you're from the UK, I don't know how comfortable you are with driving on our side of the road.

    Well, that's what I'd do, anyway. I hope this makes sense. I'd be glad to try and answer more of your questions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Tough Choices

    And ones that any RoadTripper would love to have to make. I tend to agree with Judy in that if I had the time, say several days to a week, I'd head for Hell's Canyon and do some serious hiking or white water rafting. But with you're limited time, I'd make it more of a RoadTrip and hit a bunch of scenic wonders on the way to Craters of the Moon National Monument and back. Some of my favorite hidden gems are in that area, Bruneau Canyon and Bruneau Sand Dunes are a bit out of the way but can be relatively easily found by taking ID-51 south from I-84 at Mountain Home and following the signs. Working eastward on either I-84 or US-30, the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, be sure to keep an eye on the northern bank of the Snake River to see all the water which has been flowing underground through the Snake River Plains reemerge from the cliffs above the river. Just west of Twin Falls, you might want to stop at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. From Twin Falls, head up US-93 to Craters of the Moon, with a possible detour on ID-75 and US-20 to see Shoshone Ice Caves. The caves were closed when I was last in the area, and I've heard mixed reviews of them, but just wanted to let you know they were there. Then, if you've got time, you can take a truly scenic return by way of US-93, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway and ID-21, the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway through Ketchum (home of the Hemingways) and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. So just some more options to go with Judy's. Good luck making up your mind!

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-07-2006 at 03:37 PM. Reason: typo correction

  4. #4

    Default No snow issues?

    That's great, thank you both. Yes, I'm very comfortable with long drives - even on the wrong side of thr road - but must admit that 850 miles in what you rightly say is effectively only 2.5 days is probably stretching it and would leave little or no time for enjoying the views. So, at the moment, I think the Craters of the Moon trip probably sounds favourite.

    Neither of you mention snow or road closures. Is that not likely to be an issue at this time of year?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Eastern Idaho is desert-like

    Quote Originally Posted by vambo25
    So, at the moment, I think the Craters of the Moon trip probably sounds favourite. Neither of you mention snow or road closures. Is that not likely to be an issue at this time of year?
    Peter, Welcome back! The Snake River Plains (NW of Pocatello) and points west are more-or-less high desert and so while snow does fly, it rarely builds to the point that it affects road conditions. When you go to the Craters of the Moon, take a climbing helmet, good boots, flashlights, etc. and do some of the larger caves. The tour at the EBR-1 Visitor Center is quite good as well. Be sure to look at the "nuclear-powered jet engines" on display outside!

    Idaho has some great hot springs, here is a list of the better known ones. But if you have an interest in some refreshingly hot water-- I would head west to the Oregon Outback.

    (The building above is the bathhouse)
    My favorite place is not pristine in the natural sense, but the purity of the water is pretty great. Summer Lake Hot Springs is in a class by itself and knowing your ability to find richness in what some might consider bleak surroundings, I think you will enjoy the folks who live in the Outback.

    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Northern Minnesota
    Posts
    33

    Default Hi Peter!

    Peter, My wife and I just got back from a drive that was part of your "drive across America". We saw much of the stuff you and your wife visited, Crazy Horse, Badlands, Mt Rushmore, etc. We even Stayed at the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood. Glad you enjoyed Mid-America, its a great place to live!!

    Rod

    The Burros in Custer State Park seemed like they wanted to finish our trip with us....
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vambo25
    Hi Roadtrippers,

    Boise on business at the beginning of March.
    Seems like folks overlooked the timing of this trip mentioned in your note.

    Beginning of March is way too early for raft trips or the summer attraction tourist season. Chances are that the guided tours at Craters aren't going to begin until April or May. Snowmelt and runoff aren't even beginning in March. The snow is still accumulating in the mountains!

    Skiing in Sun Valley is a much more workable objective. (Then again, that may be where your clients will be going on this business trip if you're a charter pilot....)

    You could zoom east to look around the Grand Teton mountains at Jackson Wyoming but you may have some interesting road issues getting from the Idaho side to the Wyoming side. Jackson Hole is also a skiing destination.

    Fly fishing is my usual activity when I'm in that part of the world and winter fly fishing is not out of the question but it's not for the casual tourist unless the weather is really great.

    Then again, just driving the vast distances and beautiful mountain areas might be all that you need. It certainly would make me very happy if I were forced to spend 3 days in that area :-)

    The reactor museum out in the middle of the desert is quite interesting and has the only airborne reactor experiment standing out in the parking lot. But getting there requires a pretty long drive across miles and miles of nothing.

    noFanofCB

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks NoFanOfCB,

    Mmmm, charter pilot eh? Fraid it's not quite as interesting as that. I get paid to turn dull technical stuff into what is hopefully slightly less dull marketing stuff relating to home printing equipment (apparently anyone who knows Boise will also know who the client is ... and I've just noticed that you're from Fort Collins so I'm sure you'll be able to work it out. Anyone here from Palo Alto to complete the set?).

    I have to say that a pretty long drive across miles and miles of nothing is just what I'm after - it's half the reason why the idea of a US road trip holds such appeal to us Brits for whom a half day road trip can take us from one coast to another. And as far as activities are concerned, I'll have a pair of binoculars and a couple of cameras with me - and that's generally enough to keep me entertained.

    Truth be told, the emptiness and solitude are things I'm really looking forward to (sorry Mrs Vambo25!). Can't remember that last time I spent 3 days & nights without anyone else's company so I'm quite excited about finding out whether I still enjoy it as much as I used to.

    And hi Rod, yes, the mid-West was somewhere I could imagine myself living.

    Pretty much decided on trying to see as many of AZBuck's recommendations as I can on as circular a trip to the Craters monument. Can't wait! Thanks everyone.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Craters of the Moon

    Peter,
    Mmmm, charter pilot eh? Fraid it's not quite as interesting as that. I get paid to turn dull technical stuff into what is hopefully slightly less dull marketing stuff relating to home printing equipment (apparently anyone who knows Boise will also know who the client is
    ...Yep, it is a good guess who that is!
    Truth be told, the emptiness and solitude are things I'm really looking forward to (sorry Mrs Vambo25!). Can't remember that last time I spent 3 days & nights without anyone else's company so I'm quite excited about finding out whether I still enjoy it as much as I used to.
    I like long solo trips too -- Incidently, I visited Craters of the Moon the first time in winter, and it is an enchanting time to be there -- snow on lava -- great light!

    Have a wonderful time!

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default Printers in Boise - yep.

    Quote Originally Posted by vambo25
    Thanks NoFanOfCB,

    (apparently anyone who knows Boise will also know who the client is ... and I've just noticed that you're from Fort Collins so I'm sure you'll be able to work it out. Anyone here from Palo Alto to complete the set?).

    Truth be told, the emptiness and solitude are things I'm really looking forward to (sorry Mrs Vambo25!). Can't remember that last time I spent 3 days & nights without anyone else's company so I'm quite excited about finding out whether I still enjoy it as much as I used to.
    I worked 18 years for that company before a particular CEO turned it to The Dark Side with random layoffs. All good things end. Say hello to my former co-workers and the unemployment office :-(

    If you liked solitude before then you'll have a very satisfying trip. You can head into the mountains and enjoy them or you can drive across the flats and picture travelling 150 years ago on foot to cross the lava fields.

    And you'll know where "chips" come from :-)
    You probably owe the folks back home a spud-hat or two!

    Have great trip!

    noFanofCB

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