In and Around Rexburg, ID

Rexburg, ID
Rexburg, ID

I spent two weeks in Rexburg from March 11 thru March 25, 2013 working on a job possibility.  During my free time I spent a good deal of time in town and also looking around town and some of the surrounding areas.

Rexburg Temple
Rexburg LDS Temple at sunrise

Perhaps Rexburg is best known for its LDS (Mormon) population, BYU-Idaho and the Rexburg Temple of the church (shown above). But Rexburg is also famous as the town that was practically destroyed by the Teton Dam Flood in June of 1976 (see story here).  The town has been totally rebuilt since that time.

More murals from downtown Rexburg
More murals from downtown Rexburg

Rexburg is kind of in a bowl, with mountain ranges all around it.  To the east are the Grand Tetons, to the northwest is the Lemhi Range, which includes the 12,197 foot tall Diamond Peak. To the southeast are the mountains of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.  The Craters of the Moon National Monument is southwest of Rexburg. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get there on this trip.

Old Rexburg Tabernacle which houses the Teton Flood Museum
Old Rexburg Tabernacle which houses the Teton Flood Museum

There are a number of old things in and around town that have remained from the flood.

Teton Drive-in
Teton Vu Drive-in

The Teton Vu Drive-in has had a few resurrections over the years.  It was reopened in 1999, closed again in 2006 and has since reopened again in 2009 under new ownership.  They offer shows and goodies.   I liked the drive in sign – totally vintage.

Frontier Pies in Rexburg
Frontier Pies in Rexburg

In and around Rexburg there are a few great places to find goodies to eat.  I had dinner a couple of times at the Frontier Pies Restaurant, which not only has pies but some good home cooking. The pies were awesome…

Frontier Pies
Frontier Pies

There is another famous place on the outskirts of Rexburg where giant burgers are the norm…

Big Jud'd Gourmet Burgers
Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers

Big Jud’s Country Diner is located in the small community of Archer, Idaho, a few miles south of Rexburg.  This place has the hugest hamburgers I have ever seen and has even been featured on the TV Show Man vs. Food. Here are a few shots from Big Jud’s:

Big Jud's Menu
Big Jud’s Menu – notice the Man versus Food Burger!!

 Home of the 1 LB Burger

Home of the 1 LB Burger

My "small' burger
My “small’ burger
Total indulgence in a Big Jud's "small" burger
Total indulgence in a Big Jud’s “small” burger
This guy ordered a medium
This guy ordered a medium

Another notable place to get goodies in Rexburg is Florence’s Exquisite Candies Chocolate shop, which can be found downtown.  They hand make all of their chocolate offerings and the shop also has a unique interior.

Florence's Exquisite Candies
Florence’s Exquisite Candies
Florence's Exquisite Candies
Florence’s Exquisite Candies – handmaking them
One of the unique scenes in the candy shop
One of the unique scenes in the candy shop

Another interesting item in and around Rexburg are the gas stations with “Coke Can” gas tanks.  Here are a couple of examples.

Coke Can Gas Tank
Coke Can Gas Tank
Another Coke Can Gas Tank
Another Coke Can Gas Tank

There are other nearby communities that have some unique things to see as well.

Sugar City Silo
Old Sugar City Grain Silo
Welcome to Sugar City on the silo
Welcome to Sugar City on the silo

Sugar City is a bedroom community to Rexburg. Like Rexburg, it went through some devastation during the Teton Flood.  The town was founded in 1903 to house sugar beet factory workers of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company.   The factory closed in the 1940s and then, after the devastation of the flood in 1976, most of the businesses did not reopen.

Elk Bull in Sugar City
Elk Bull in Sugar City

The Rocky Mountain Elk Ranch is located in Sugar City and I got to take a drive by there and see all of the elk.  I only saw a couple of bulls with their antlers.  They breed the elk locally and then release them to some of the mountain areas for hunting trips, etc.

Another Elk Bull
Another Elk Bull

One afternoon, while my wife was out in Rexburg, we took a drive north towards St. Anthony, Idaho, another nearby community.  We had as a goal to get to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes then, if possible, take a drive up the Mesa Falls Scenic Loop north of there, near Ashton, Idaho.  Following is a map of the exact route we ended up taking and some of the photos we took during the trip.

St. Anthony, Ashton and Driggs

St. Anthony Sand Dunes
St. Anthony Sand Dunes

St. Anthony is a small town of about 3500 just north of Rexburg and is the gateway to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, a unique area west of town and one of those unexpected discoveries.  I would have never thought about sand dunes in them as much as 400 feet tall.   To get there we had to go through Parker and then to the Egin Lakes area campground.

Unique Yard Art in Parker, Idaho
Unique Yard Art in Parker, Idaho

Along the way we saw a house in Parker that has lined their fences with old highway signage.  Amazing how people do these things!!

St. Anthony Sand Dunes Sign
St. Anthony Sand Dunes Sign
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
St. Anthony Sand Dunes

From the dunes we returned to St. Anthony and then headed north to Ashton, Idaho, which sits at the base of the mountains north of Rexburg and is the gateway to the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, which we had hoped to take.

Welcome to Ashton
Welcome to Ashton – the Potato Seed Capital of Idaho

Upon arrival in the small town, the first thing I noticed was the Frostop Drive In – a page out of nostalgic America. Frostop Root Beer is one of those old well known brands, having its start in Springfield, Ohio in 1926.  The diner in Ashton has been there since 1965 and has gone through a few owners.

Frostop Drive-in - Ashton, ID
Frostop Drive-in – Ashton, ID
Frostop Mug
Frostop Mug

The big root beer mug rotates and draws you in to the old style drive in.  We didn’t really want drive in fare, so we meandered across the street to a restaurant that looked like a huge log cabin.

Chriswell's Cafe - Ashton, ID
Chriswell’s Trails Inn Restaurant – Ashton, ID

Chriswell’s Trails Inn Restaurant is rustic, homey and full of animal trophies.  Last time I was in a place like this was at Ole’s Big Game Steak house in Nebraska (see the blog post here).  I ordered a chicken fried steak, their speciality, and the thing was bigger than my plate.  Further, unlike the chicken fried steaks I have had in the past, this one was made with real steak, not ground steak!!

Sumoflam at Chriswell's with a Sand Crane
Sumoflam at Chriswell’s with a Sand Crane
Road Kill Beef Jerky sign at Chriswell's
Road Kill Beef Jerky sign at Chriswell’s
Some of the trophies
Some of the trophies
Digging into the Chicken Fried Steak - gravy was so good my nose wanted some too!!
Digging into the Chicken Fried Steak – gravy was so good my nose wanted some too!!

Like other small towns in the west, there are still plenty of nostalgic signs.  Here are a couple from Ashton.

Nostalgic sign in Ashton
Nostalgic sign in Ashton – still have cabins for rent
Otis's Place
Otis Place nostalgic neon sign in Ashton

From Ashton we headed up north on Idaho Highway 47, which is the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.  There were signs warning us that the road was closed ahead, so we followed it as far as we could go.  It took us up into Targhee National Forest, and as we climbed in altitude, the snow got ever deeper. Bear in mind that this was the end of March.

Idaho 47 north of Ashton
Idaho 47 north of Ashton
A snowy scene
A snowy scene
Along the Warm River on Meas Falls Scenic Byway
Along the Warm River on Meas Falls Scenic Byway
Snow Covered Cabins
Snow Covered Cabins near Warm River resort
Road Closed
Road Closed – snowmobiles only

We finally hit the dead end where only snowmobiles were allowed, and had to turn around and head back to Ashton.

Another scene near the Warm River
Another scene near the Warm River

Once back in Ashton we made our to Idaho Highway 32 which would take us through the small towns of Drummond and Felt, and hopefully would offer us a few glimpses of the Tetons from the west.  This was an extremely beautiful drive, particularly since we went through pristine snow covered hills…snow was very deep and practically untouched most of the way.

Snowy Scenes along highway 32
Snowy Scenes along highway 32
The Tetons as seen from near Drummond, ID
The Tetons as seen from near Drummond, ID
Nothing but snow and mountains
Nothing but snow and mountains
Old Cabin near Drummond
Old Cabin near Drummond
The Grand Tetons from Felt, Idaho
The Grand Tetons from Felt, Idaho
More snow and mountains from the road
More snow and mountains from the road

All in all, that Sunday drive from Rexburg to Ashton and Drummond and back was marvelous.

Old Sugar Mill
Old Sugar Mill Market

On another trip south of Rexburg, near Rigby, on US 20, you can see an old sugar mill off to the side of the road.  Someone has meticulously painted the facade and it was, apparently at one time, the Old Sugar Mill Market.  It appears to be out of business now, but it is eye catching from the highway.

Old Sugar Mill Market - all of the windows and flowers are hand painted
Old Sugar Mill Market – all of the windows and flowers are hand painted
Old Sugar Mill Market, near Rigby, ID
Old Sugar Mill Market, near Rigby, ID
Old Sugar Mill Market - near Rigby, ID
Old Sugar Mill Market – near Rigby, ID
Old Sugar Mill Smokestack
Old Sugar Mill Smokestack

Also, Rigby, Idaho is noted as the birthplace of the television. Philo T. Farnsworth invented the television tube here and there is a museum dedicated to him (along with other items from the Rigby area.)

Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum - Rigby, ID
Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum – Rigby, ID
Downtown Rigby, ID
Downtown Rigby, ID

There are a few other places I visited in the area…here are some of the sights

An old truck in Ashby, ID
An old truck in Archer, ID
An elk horn mailbox in Thornton, ID
An elk horn mailbox in Thornton, ID
Old wall sign in Thornton, ID
Old wall sign in Thornton, ID
An old barn with junk on it near Thornton, ID
An old barn with junk on it near Thornton, ID
Beautiful skies over SE Idaho
Beautiful skies over SE Idaho
Scary storm north of Rexburg
Scary storm north of Rexburg
Hay stacked in the fields near Ashby, ID
Hay stacked in the fields near Archer, ID
Old Rail Road Bridge near Rigby
Old Rail Road Bridge near Rigby
Old tractor in Thornton
Old tractor in Thornton
My car after a late March snowstorm in Rexburg
My car after a late March snowstorm in Rexburg
One antlered elk bull on a breeding farm near Archer, ID
One antlered elk bull on a breeding farm near Archer, ID

(7245)

A Visit to Heaven: Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons
Grand Tetons

March 13, 2013:  Today was heavenly…WOW!! I spent the day with my niece and her husband and we traveled east from Rexburg over Teton Pass to Jackson, Wyoming and then north to Grand Teton National Park.


Jackson, WY and Grand Tetons

Mountain Man by Steve Horn - Horn Mountain Gallery in Tetonia, ID
“Mountain Man” by Steve Horn – Horn Mountain Gallery in Tetonia, ID

Our first stop on the road to Jackson was in Tetonia, ID. We made a stop outside of Horn Mountain Living to get the shot of the “Mountain Man” sculpture above, which was done by Steve Horn.  Steve moved to Teton Valley over 30 years ago and lived as a mountain man prior to that. He is completely self-taught and gives his Creator full credit for his abilities. He has since become one of the country’s top hand carved furniture makers and his favorite medium is stone.  Another item we saw outside the gallery was this bear…

Bear by Steve Horn - Tetonia, ID
Bear by Steve Horn – Tetonia, ID

I also got a kick out of the sign below:

Dave's Pubb - Tetonia, ID
Dave’s Pubb – Tetonia, ID

We also saw a nice mural at the Teton Mountain View Lodge in Tetonia.

Teton Mountain View Lodge
Teton Mountain View Lodge mural (2005 by Terri Furness)

From Tetonia we headed southeast towards Driggs, ID.

Driggs, Idaho
Downtown Driggs, Idaho

Driggs is really at the base of the Tetons on the Western side and has the unique small town feel yet also a touristy place.

Buffalo Statue - Driggs, ID
Buffalo Statue – Driggs, ID

Just south of Driggs is the fairly famous “Spud Drive-In Theater.” The theater is one of only two drive-ins theaters listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  One claim to fame is the big spud on the back of a 1946 Chevrolet flat-bed truck.

The Spud Truck - Driggs, ID
The Spud Truck – Driggs, ID
The Spud sign - Driggs, ID
The Spud sign – Driggs, ID
Little Spuds at entry gate
Little Spuds at entry gate
Sumoflam with the Spud Guys
Sumoflam with the Spud Guys in the truck
Spud Pooh
Pooh Tater

The Spud was a lot of fun!! But, we needed to move on to Victor, another small town on the way to Jackson.  We made a quick stop at the Victor Emporium to get a shot of the mural on their wall.  They are known for their Huckleberry Milkshakes, which they have been serving since 1950.

Victor Emporium Mural - Victor, ID
Victor Emporium Mural – Victor, ID

From Victor we headed up the Teton Pass, which crests at 8432 feet.  Along the way we crossed into Wyoming.

Welcome to Wyoming sign on Teton Pass
Welcome to Wyoming sign on Teton Pass

At the crest of the pass we were granted a spectacular view of the Jackson Hole valley below.  The first white man to see this view was John Colter, in 1807.  As a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, he returned to the area and recorded descriptions of the valley and its features in his journals.  Colter was also the first man of European descent to see the Yellowstone region. Much of what he wrote about was unbelieveable to many due to the fantastic nature of the scenery. There is a great write-up of Colter’s history on Wikipedia.

Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
"Howdy Stranger" Sign at Teton Pass summit
“Howdy Stranger” Sign at Teton Pass summit

From the summit we made our way into the valley and came into beautiful Jackson, Wyoming.  Last time I was in Jackson was in 1975.  I came with some other guys from church while living in the Salt Lake City area.  We came to Jackson to go canoeing down the Snake River for a three days.  My canoe partner, John Janssen, and I lost our canoe in a log jam after running a rapid.  A memorable time.

Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
Jackson, Wyoming and Ski Slope
Jackson, Wyoming and Ski Slope

Our first stop was breakfast.  We found a place called E Leaven Food Company and had a good breakfast. Their bagels are awesome!!  Thomas, my niece’s husband, ordered the biscuits and gravy.  Check this out!!

Biscuits and Gravy from E Leaven Food in Jackson Hole, WY
Biscuits and Gravy from E Leaven Food in Jackson Hole, WY – Yummiferous!!

After breakfast we took a walk around the town, saw some fun statues, the famous Antler Arches and other things.  There are some sites that indicate that it requires nearly 10,000 pounds of antlers for each arch.  Many of these come from the National Elk Refuge north of Jackson.

Antler Arch of Jackson
Antler Arch of Jackson

AntlerArchSumoflam1

Close up of Antlers - Jackson, WY
Close up of Antlers – Jackson, WY
Famous Cowboy Bar Sign in Jackson, WY
Famous Cowboy Bar Sign in Jackson, WY
"Cowboy" by Bud Boller
“Cowboy” by Bud Boller in center of town square in Jackson, WY

The statue above is in the middle of town and is the symbol of Wyoming and sits atop the Veteran’s Memorial in Jackson.  The bronze was created by Bud Boller, a registered member of the Shoshone tribe. The Cowboy depicted in the sculpture is “Stub” Farlow and the horse’s name is Deadman. It was completed in 1976.

Sumoflam and Lincoln in Jackson Hole
Sumoflam and Lincoln in Jackson Hole – one of a series of Gary Lee Price’s sculptures on the square

Across the street from the town square is the Mountain Trails Gallery which offers some unique and large art work. In front of the shop are a series of works by artist Gary Lee Price.  Entitled the “Great Contributors“, there are life size bronze works of Abraham Lincoln (above), George Washington, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.

My niece Natalie with George Washington
My niece Natalie with George Washington by Gary Lee Price in Jackson, WY
Natalie and Thomas with Benjamin Franklin in Jackson Hole
Natalie and Thomas with Benjamin Franklin in Jackson Hole
Sumoflam with Moose
Sumoflam with Moose by Terry Lee in Jackson, WY
Sumoflam and Bear in Jackson, WY
Sumoflam and Bear in Jackson, WY

After our stroll through town we headed back to the car and prepared to head north to the Tetons.  We made a quick stop at the Jackson Hole Visitor’s Center to get road information in for the park, since many roads were likely closed due to snow.

David and Elk Statue
David and Elk Statue at Visitor’s Center

Finally, we were on our way to see a place I have always dreamed of – the Grand Tetons.  It was a beautiful clear day with a few clouds, but the mountains were magnificent.

First view of the mountains just north of Jackson on the way to Grand Tetons.
First view of the mountains just north of Jackson on the way to Grand Tetons
Mt. Moran in Grand Tetons as seen from US 89
Mt. Moran in Grand Tetons as seen from US 89 in Grand Tetons N.P.
Mt. Moran from US 89
Mt. Moran from US 89

Once in the National Park, there are signs you see occasionally that warn travelers of bears.  The “Food Storage Required” means that you need to pack up your food securely so bears don’t sniff it out.

Be Bear Aware Sign
Be Bear Aware Sign

We continued north until Moran and then headed west on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway.  This roadway links Grand Teton N.P. to Yellowstone N.P.  We took the road to Teton Park Rd. and then along Jackson Lake to Signal Mountain Lodge, which was as far as allowed. This crossed us over the Jackson Lake Dam. The snow was deep in this part of the park.  Jackson Lake was frozen and there were guys parked at Signal Mountain that had hiked out on to the lake to do Ice Fishing…

Ice Fishing on Jackson Lake - the little dots
Ice Fishing on Jackson Lake – the little dots on the lake
Snake River as seen from Jackson Lake Dam near Signal Mountain
Snake River as seen from Jackson Lake Dam near Signal Mountain Lodge

On the way back to the main highway we saw a fox out on the snow.  So stark and unique.

Fox on Snow
Fox on Snow

After getting back on the road, we continued north as far as the Colter Bay Village turnoff.  The road took us along the completely frozen Jackson Lake and then to the village visitor center, which was closed except for one restroom…that was heated!!

Scene near Colter Bay
Scene near Colter Bay
Mt. Moran as seen from Colter Bay Lodge - Taken with my iPhone!
Mt. Moran as seen from Colter Bay Lodge – Taken with my iPhone!

After these scenes (and feeling again like I was in heaven), we headed back to Jackson on the same path.  There were dozens more photos taken of the beautiful mountains before we got to the next turnoff near Jackson at Gros Ventre Rd. Here are a few more shots that were taken along the way.

Grand Tetons along US 89
Grand Tetons along US 89
Grand Tetons on US 89
Grand Tetons on US 89
Grand Tetons from US 89
Grand Tetons from US 89

We eventually got to Gros Ventre Rd and headed towards Kelly, WY. We took this drive both for the scenic appeal and for the opportunity to possibly see a moose, as we had heard that there were some sightings.

Moose on Gros Ventre Rd.
Moose on Gros Ventre Rd.
Another Moose Sighting
Another Moose Sighting
Yet Another Moose Sighting
Yet Another Moose Sighting

In Kelly, we did NOT see a moose, but we did see one of my favorite things… a metal creature

Metal dinosaur in Kelly, WY
Metal dinosaur in Kelly, WY – chewing on a bone no less!!

On the way into Jackson there are more neat sculptures.  As we passed by the National Elk Refuge on the way into Jackson, we could see a bronze herd of buffalo

Bronze Buffalo near Jackson
Bronze Buffalo near Jackson – up on a hill

And, as we finally return home past the Victor area, just a couple of more interesting photos of fun stuff…

Old Truck near Victor, WY
Old Truck near Victor, WY
Old Barn in the Mountains
Old Barn in the Mountains

(2244)

Road Trip to Idaho – Day 4: Shelby, MT to Rexburg, ID

Cabin in the Snow
Cabin in the Snow

March 25, 2013: After a fabulous couple of days in Shelby, MT with my daughter, her husband and all the kids, it was back on the road for the last leg of the trip to Rexburg.  This was basically a straight shot down I-15 thru Great Falls, Helena and Butte.   Unfortunately, the day started off pretty snowy and yucky.

Gas Station in Shelby, MT
Gas Station in Shelby, MT
Interstate 15 heading South towards Great Falls
Interstate 15 heading South towards Great Falls

By the time I had hit the Great Falls area, the weather was basically clearing up and so it was more or less smooth sailing to Helena.  I was provided an excellent view of Tower Rock State Park.

South on I-15 towards Tower Rock State Park
South on I-15 towards Tower Rock State Park

Tower Rock State Park is a 400-foot high igneous rock formation that lies along a stretch of the Missouri River north of Helena.  The river has formed a deep gorge into the rock. Tower Rock was noted in the Lewis and Clark Journals. Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal on July 16, 1805: ‘At this place there is a large rock of 400 feet high wich stands immediately in the gap which the Missouri makes on it’s passage from the mountains… This rock I called the tower. It may be ascended with some difficulty nearly to its summit and from it there is a most pleasing view of the country we are now about to leave. From it I saw that evening immense herds of buffaloe in the plains below.’

Tower Rock State Park
Tower Rock State Park
Missouri River in Tower Rock State Park
Missouri River in Tower Rock State Park
Fishing on the Missouri
Fishing on the Missouri
Hardy Bridge in Tower Rock State Park
Hardy Bridge in Tower Rock State Park

I took Exit 244 for Hardy Creek on got on to Old US Highway 91 and followed it along the Missouri River.  This took me into the canyon area.  I then crossed over the Hardy Bridge and continued along the river.  Apparently, the silver steel bridge was the scene of the shootout between federal agents and rum-runners in the 1987 movie The Untouchables.

Along the Missouri River in the park - probably still how it may have looked for Lewis and Clark.
Along the Missouri River in the park – probably still how it may have looked for Lewis and Clark. This photo was taken with the iPhone Panorama function, thus the little shift on the left

Back on the freeway I moved a little further up the road to the Dearborn Rest Area in the Adel Mountains, a large stretch of volcanic remnants.  The volcanic remnants run about 40 miles in length and 20 miles wide, and the area of Tower Rock State Park is part of this old volcanic flow.

Adel Mountain Rest Area
Adel Volcanic Mountains as seen from Dearborn  Rest Area north of Helena

From the rest area I continued south to Exit 234 which brought me into Craig, MT. From what I could tell, Craig is all about fishing on the Missouri River and the other tributary creeks.  This section of the Missouri is apparently one of the premier trout fishing areas in the country.  As for the small town, it was named for local pioneer Warren Craig. In 1886 Craig built a log house, with a stone fireplace. Many times he had to defend his homestead from the Indians.  The house is located half mile from the Great Northern depot, but I was not able to get over it due to time constraints. In 1890 his son, John Craig settled in the area and Mrs. John Craig later served as postmaster.

Old Row Boat in Craig, MT
Old Row Boat in Craig, MT
Craig Train Stop
Craig Train Stop
Bridge over Missouri at Craig
Sign for Bridge over Missouri at Craig – Forrest H. Anderson Memorial Bridge

Ironically, my hope was a convenience store, but all that I could find were fishing related shops like the one below.

Headhunter Flies & Guides - Craig, MT
Headhunter Flies & Guides – Craig, MT
Geese hang around the Missouri River in Craig
Geese hang around the Missouri River in Craig

From Craig I got back on I-15 to continue south towards Helena.  I took exit 209 to see the “Gates of the Mountains.” Named by Meriwether Lewis on July 19, 1805 because of the 1200 foot tall towering limestone cliffs that seemed to block their way. He wrote, “this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of 1200 feet. … the river appears to have forced its way through this immense body of solid rock for the distance of 5-3/4 Miles … I called it the gates of the rocky mountains.” Since that time the area has become a National Wilderness area by an act of Congress in 1964.

Gates of the Mountains Info Sign at Turnoff
Gates of the Mountains Info Sign at Turnoff

At this visitor turnoff there are not only the signs, but there is a metal sculpture of a man and a dog that greeted me.  Behind them was a spectacular view of the area.

Man and Dog at Gates of the Mountains view point
Man and Dog at Gates of the Mountains view point

I am not sure (and have done a lot of looking!!) to see who made this sculpture.  There is no information that I am aware of.  Another view of it shows the Gates of the Mountains in the background.

Man and Dog with Gates of the Mountains
Man and Dog with Gates of the Mountains

I did drive a bit down the road to get closer, but it is quite a drive down there.  The lake is Upper Holter Lake.

Gates of the Mountains near Helena, MT
Gates of the Mountains near Helena, MT

After this amazing scene (which the photo does no justice to), I continued south towards Helena.

I-15 South towards Helena
I-15 South towards Helena

I decided to go through Helena and then through Montana City and then on to Butte.  I decided to stop at the Butte Berkeley Pit overlook for my next stop.

Berkeley Pit - Butte, MT
Berkeley Pit – Butte, MT

The Berkeley Pit is a former open pit copper mine in Butte. It is one mile long by half a mile wide with an approximate depth of 1,780 feet. The mine was opened in 1955 and operated by Anaconda Copper and later by the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), until its closure in 1982.

Berkeley Pit as seen from Downtown Butte
Berkeley Pit as seen from Downtown Butte

The viewpoint offers a couple of great sights.  First there is a spectacular view of the Anaconda Mountain range (also known as the Pintlars) east of Butte, which has a number of 10,000 foot tall peaks.  And, also from the overview point, to the west, you can see the 90 foot tall “Our Lady of the Rockies” statue 3500 feet above the view point (actual elevation is 8510 feet) .

Anaconda Range - east of Butte
Anaconda Range – east of Butte (tallest peaks include West Goat Peak, Mt. Evans, Mt. Haggin, Warren Peak and East Goat Peak – all over 10,000 feet tall)

The “Our Lady of the Rockies” statue was placed on the East Ridge on the Continental Divide overlooking Butte.  It is apparently the second tallest statue in the United States after the Statue of Liberty (see list of tallest statues on Wikipedia). The statue was built by volunteers using donated materials to honor women everywhere, especially mothers. The design for the statue was engineered by Laurien Eugene Riehl. He was a retired engineer for the Anaconda Company who donated his engineering skills to the project, specifically the statue would need to handle the intense winds at the top of the peak. A full photo of this huge beautiful statue is available here.

Our Lady of the Rockies statue as seen from the Butte Overlook
Our Lady of the Rockies statue as seen from the Butte Overlook
Our Lady of the Rockies info sign at Butte Overlook
Our Lady of the Rockies info sign at Butte Overlook

From the overlook I took a drive into Butte for fuel and a drive through town.  Here are a few sights of Butte:

Butte, Montana Welcoms sign
Butte, Montana Welcome sign
Mural on side of a building
Mural on side of a building
Old Building Advertisement, Butte, MT
Old Building Advertisement, Butte, MT
Acoma Restaurant Sign
Acoma Restaurant Sign
Lincoln Hotel Advertisement
Lincoln Hotel Advertisement
Colorful and Unique Architecture
Colorful and Unique Architecture

After the nice drive around Butte, it was back on I-15 heading south.  I was humored when I approached Exit 111 south of Butte.  The sign said Feely.  So, I took the exit just to get the sign…   Now I know how to get to Feely.  I just need to find Touchy next!!

Feely, MT sign
Feely, Montana sign

Not much further down the road was yet another interesting sign:

Divide Wisdom, MT
Divide Wisdom, MT

What I am wondering is if I need to really divide wisdom?  Can’t I keep the complete wisdom?  Actually, I would have liked to have made it to Wisdom.  I have been to Wisdom, KY.  I need more Wisdom!!

I-15 South of Divide/Wisdom, MT
I-15 South of Divide/Wisdom, MT
Union Pacific Bridge over the Big Hole River near Glen, MT
Union Pacific Bridge over the Big Hole River near Glen, MT

I continued south towards Idaho.  Though I was not able to get any photos, I passed by a HUGE Buffalo Ranch near Dillon.  I must have seen 200-300 head from the freeway.  Continuing south I passed the huge Clark Canyon Reservoir, with water frozen.

Clark Reservoir in Southern Montana
Clark Canyon Reservoir in Southern Montana

 

South on I-15 into Idaho
South on I-15 near Lima, MT

From Lima I soon entered into Idaho.  I ventured south into Spencer, Idaho, which is the home of the Opal Mountain Mine and is known as the Opal Capital of America.

Spencer, Idaho sign
Spencer, Idaho sign

Opals were apparently discovered in the Spencer area in 1948 and there is one big mine in operation.  there are a number of shops.  As it was a snowy Sunday, nothing was opened, but it was a unique little drive right off of the freeway.

High Country Opal - Spencer, ID
High Country Opal – Spencer, ID

 

Spencer Opal Mines
Spencer Opal Mines

 

Cabin in the Snow
Cabin in the Snow – near Spencer, ID

From Spencer I continued south and finally got to Exit 143 and headed east towards Rexburg, where I will be for the next couple of weeks.

East to Rexburg - notice big white temple n the middle of town
East to Rexburg – notice the big white LDS Temple in the middle of town and Tetons in the distance

Finally…hotel sweet hotel.  I am at the beautiful AmericInn Hotel.  My room even has a jacuzzi in it!!

AmericInn Rexburg Jacuzzi
AmericInn Rexburg Jacuzzi
Time for Bed - AmericInn, Rexburg
Time for Bed – AmericInn, Rexburg

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