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Eastern Idaho RoadTrip
Summer Picnic on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway
by Dennis Weaver

Hatchery manager's house
Dennis Weaver
The old hatchery manager's house

Old hatchery  building
Dennis Weaver
Old hatchery building, now abandoned

[Continued from page 2]

We drove up the Mesa Falls Road until we joined with Highway 20. I tried to talk Robert into taking the side road to Big Springs, a paved side road. Big Springs is the headwaters of Henry's Fork and tourists throw bits of bread to the huge rainbow trout suspended in the crystal water. Of course, the fish are protected but it is still something to see so many giant rainbow trout in one spot. But Robert and Roberta are hungry and thought we ought to find a place to eat.

We pulled into a campground along the river. It was deserted except for three fishermen in the riffles. Henry's Fork is one of the most famous trout streams in the world, and the crystal spring waters are rich with feed. With so much feed and transparent waters, the fish are picky and seemingly educated. We didn't see the three fishermen catch fish.

We built a fire in a fire ring overlooking the river. I put some corn on the grate, roasting it in the hull. (Here's how to do it.) We cut willows along the river bank for hot dogs and I noticed that the wintering elk had chomped the tender branches down to stubs. Robert sneered when I pulled the hot dogs from the cooler, mumbling something about "barely edible". But these were not hot dogs; they were brats. By his second, he acknowledged that they were the best hot dogs he had ever eaten. We ate old-fashioned potato salad and finished the meal with brownies.

The Mesa Falls Scenic byway offers incredible picnicking and the ability to stay on paved roads -- I am going to remember this gorgeous area the next time I have out-of-town guests who need to stay on paved roads!

Dennis Weaver
July 1, 2007
(Map updated August 4, 2020, RTA)
(Links updated November 23, 2022, RTA)


U.S Forest Service: Mesa Falls Recreation Area

White Water Rafting Info

Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

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