From Cody to Carhenge with a Jackalope in-between

DSC_7698After a marvelous time in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, it was time to head east through the high deserts of Wyoming and across Nebraska and eventually back home to Kentucky.

Map of trip from Cody to Grand Island, Nebraska
Map of trip from Cody to Grand Island, Nebraska

After a restful evening at the Moose Creek Lodge in Cody, Wyoming, I was ready to hit the road running early the next morning. I had visited Cody in 2013 and so I didn’t spend a lot of time, but I did want to get back over to the Buffalo Bill Center and take some pictures of some of the numerous statues there.

Buffalo Bill Cody statue in Cody, Wyoming
Buffalo Bill Cody statue in Cody, Wyoming
Plaque under Buffalo Bill statue
Plaque under Buffalo Bill statue
Sumoflam with Chief Washakie Statue at buffalo Bill Center
Sumoflam with Chief Washakie Statue at Buffalo Bill Center
Old Cody Theater in downtown Cody, WY
Old Cody Theater in downtown Cody, WY
Courthouse in Cody, WY
Courthouse in Cody, WY

After about 30 minutes in Cody, I was soon heading southeast on Wyoming Highway 120 towards Thermopolis. This is a scenic drive through rolling hills of sage brush.

Wyoming 120 to Meeteetse, WY
Wyoming 120 to Meeteetse, WY
Wyoming 120 heading east
Wyoming 120 heading east
Mountains and Sagebrush as seen from Wyoming 120 - I believe this is Wapiti Ridge
Mountains and Sagebrush as seen from Wyoming 120 – I believe this is Wapiti Ridge and the Absaroka Range
Wyoming 120 a few miles north of Meeteetse, WY
Wyoming 120 a few miles north of Meeteetse, WY

I drove through the town of Meeteetse (Where Chief’s Meet) and then on to Thermopolis.

Welcome to Meeteetse, WY
Welcome to Meeteetse, WY
A cuddly bear on a corner in Meeteetse, WY
A cuddly bear on a corner in Meeteetse, WY
An old Bank building (1901) in Meeteetse
An old Bank building (1901) in Meeteetse

The drive from Meeteetse to Thermopolis is generally through high desert grasslands and hills. This is the vast interior of Wyoming, the open range land of ranchers and of solitude. You’re more likely to encounter more antelope than cars along this route, which was my case (which I did!!)

Hill country in central Wyoming south of Meeteetse
Hill country in central Wyoming south of Meeteetse
Antelope in open range along the side of Wyoming 120
Antelope in open range along the side of Wyoming 120
Antelope just stared back at me...didn't run
Antelope just stared back at me…didn’t run
One more nice wildlife shot of antelope on WY 120
One more nice wildlife shot of antelope on WY 120

As the drive gets closer to Thermopolis, there are numerous unique rock formations which break the monotony of the seemingly endless sage brush grasslands. These open up to layers of mesas which provide a visual texture for miles. (OK, I lied, there were more cars than antelope – see photos below!)

The Road to Thermopolis
The Road to Thermopolis
Beautiful vista north of Thermopolis, WY on WY 120
Beautiful vista north of Thermopolis, WY on WY 120

Hwy 120 ends in Thermopolis. This town is home to the world’s largest mineral hot springs and the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. From the south Thermopolis is the gateway to Yellowstone Country, and coming from the north it is the gateway to the Wind River Canyon.

Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis
Large Sign about the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis
Large Sign about the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis
Welcome to the Dinosaur Center
Welcome to the Dinosaur Center
Flags fly in Thermopolis
Flags fly in Thermopolis

Of course, I always keep my eyes peeled for unique things when I drive through a town.  Here are a couple of good ones.

Antler Arch in Thermopolis
Antler Arch in Thermopolis
An old neon sign for the Coachman Inn
An old neon sign for the Coachman Inn

Since I was pushing to get to Carhenge before dusk,I rushed through Thermopolis and proceeded east towards the Wind River Canyon on US Hwy 20.

US Route 20 is actually the longest highway in the US, spanning 3365 miles across the country from Newport, Oregon through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and ending in Massachusetts.

US Route 20 heading to Wind River Canyon and Boysen State Park
US Route 20 heading to Wind River Canyon and Boysen State Park

The Wind River Canyon drive follows US 20 along the Wind River for about 14 miles and into the depths of the canyon, sometimes 2400 deep. It is amazingly scenic as the highway winds it’s way around 34 miles of bends and through Rock carved tunnels, finally opening up near Boysen State Park and ending up in the small town of Shoshoni.

Entering Wind River Canyon on US 20 from Thermopolis
Entering Wind River Canyon on US 20 from Thermopolis
One of many spectacular views of Wind River Canyon
One of many spectacular views of Wind River Canyon

I have been through this canyon twice before and have always been amazed at the engineering genius of gnawing a path through this wild gorge. There are even a number of pullouts that provide unique views up and down the length of the canyon.

One of tunnels tunnels on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon. These tunnels are hewn stone and must have been a massive undertaking.
One of tunnels tunnels on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon. These tunnels are hewn stone and must have been a massive undertaking.
Tunnel #3 on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon
Tunnel #3 on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon
Welcome to Boysen State Park in the midst of the Wind River Canyon
Welcome to Boysen State Park in the midst of the Wind River Canyon
History of the Wind River Canyon
History of the Wind River Canyon

As I left the canyon, the spacious Boysen Reservoir was to my right (looking West) and beyond the lake in the distance were the snow capped peaks of the Wind River Mountain Range. Gannet Peak, Wyoming’s highest mountain at 13,804 feet, is part of this massive range that stretches about 100 miles from north to south. There are more than 40 named peaks over 13,000 feet in this mountain range. US Highway 26 and US Highway 287 skirt this range to the east in Wyoming through Dubois and Lander. I hope to drive those roads sometime in the future.

Boysen Reservoir with the Wind River Mountain Range in the distance.
Boysen Reservoir with the Wind River Mountain Range in the distance.
Another view of the Wind River Mountain Range behind Boysen Reservoir
Another view of the Wind River Mountain Range behind Boysen Reservoir
US Route 20 north of Shoshoni, WY
US Route 20 north of Shoshoni, WY

Just past the south end of Boysen Reservoir, US 20 continues into Shoshoni and the southeast towards Casper. Shoshoni had the appearance of a dying town to me. There were a few old buildings with some nice Native American murals, but the town really appeared dead.

Old Motel Neon sign in Shoshoni, WY
Old Motel Neon sign in Shoshoni, WY
Highway Signs in Shoshoni, WY...part of the sand Creek Massacre Trail
Highway Signs in Shoshoni, WY…part of the sand Creek Massacre Trail

The Sand Creek Massacre Trail in Wyoming is dedicated to the remembrance of the Sand Creek Massacre which took place on November 29, 1864.  The trail follows the paths of the Northern Arapaho and Cheyenne in the years after the massacre. It traces them to their wintering on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Riverton in central Wyoming, where the Arapaho remain today. The trail passes through Cheyenne, Laramie, Casper, Shoshoni and Riverton. The trail was dedicated August 6, 2006

The seemingly run down business section of Shoshoni, WY
The seemingly run down business section of Shoshoni, WY
Detail of Mural on front one of the buildings in Shoshoni
Detail of Mural on front one of the buildings in Shoshoni
Another view of downtown Shoshoni, WY. Note the remnant of another nice mural in the center of the photo
Another view of downtown Shoshoni, WY. Note the remnant of another nice mural in the center of the photo

Heading east on US Routes 20/26, I immediately drove by a number of unique rock formations along the side of the road. The sandstone pillars have been eroded away over centuries of time to create these nice designs.

Rock formations east of Shoshoni, WY on US 20
Rock formations east of Shoshoni, WY on US 20
Another rock formation on US 20 east of Shoshoni, WY
Another rock formation on US 20 east of Shoshoni, WY

US Highway 20 then provides us with a typical long drive through the sagebrush of Wyoming…

US Route 20 in Wyoming
US Route 20 in Wyoming
Another highway scene along US Route 20 in Wyoming
Another highway scene along US Route 20 in Wyoming

It is a bit of drive, but fortunately, there is a rest area east of the small town of Hiland.  A couple of nice history signs as well.

Wyoming's Wildlife?
Wyoming’s Wildlife?
Bridger Road Historical Marker at Rest Area on US 20/26 east of Hiland
Bridger Road Historical Marker at Rest Area on US 20/26 east of Hiland

About 4 miles from the rest area on the south side of the road is a turnoff to Hell’s Half Acre (near Powder River, WY), a large scarp with deep ravines, canyons, caves, rock formations and hoodoos.  I have a love of these types of things.  I was so very disappointed to see a chain link fence keeping visitors from being able to grasp the full extent of this place.

Hell's Half Acre Sign in Wyoming off of US Route 20/26
Hell’s Half Acre Sign in Wyoming off of US Route 20/26
A view of the Hell's Half Acre scarp, Wyoming
A view of the Hell’s Half Acre scarp, Wyoming
A massive hoodoo pillar in Hell's Half Acre, Wyoming
A massive hoodoo pillar in Hell’s Half Acre, Wyoming
Rainbow colored landscape of Hell's Half Acre
Rainbow colored landscape of Hell’s Half Acre

It was here that I met a new friend…a fellow traveler, a fellow photographer, a fellow blogger.   A a professional photographer, Derek Ace does some amazing work.  You can see some of his best work HERE. Turns out that Derek is from Middleton, Wisconsin, which had me talking right away since Middleton is also the home the National Mustard Museum, one of my favorite places (see my post about this from my old blog).  You can really get a nice sense of Derek’s work from his Facebook Photo stream.  I am glad to have made his acquaintance on this trip and I am looking forward to what I believe will be an amazing set of photos from HIS visit there.

Powder River, Wyoming
Powder River, Wyoming

Not too far east of Hell’s Half Acre is the little dot on the map known as Powder River, Wyoming.  There are probably less than 40 people here. However, there was one place that took me back…and in the middle of nowhere too.

An old neon relic of the past, the Tumble Inn Lounge/Cafe, with a vintage neon look in Powder River, WY
An old neon relic of the past, the Tumble Inn Lounge/Cafe, with a vintage neon look in Powder River, WY

Apparently, as late as 2005, this place was being used a strip joint and oil workers, folks from Shoshoni and nearby Casper, would venture their way to this hole in the wall place. It closed in November 2005 and now sits as another ghost on a basically deserted highway in the middle in Nowheresville, welcoming the passersby.

Highway US 20 east of Powder River, WY and heading towards Casper
Highway US 20 east of Powder River, WY and heading towards Casper
Entering Casper, Wyoming
Entering Casper, Wyoming

I really didn’t have much time to spend in Casper, but I needed gas, so I stopped and filled up.  While at the gas station, a giant Cloud Troll decided to show me the direction I needed to go in as I headed towards my next stop, which was Douglas, WY. (By the way…I LOVE looking at clouds!!)

A giant cloud troll shows me the way to Douglas, WY
A giant cloud troll shows me the way to Douglas, WY

From Casper I jumped on Interstate 25 to head east toward Douglas.  This was one of the few Interstate ventures I took while on the road.

I-25 East out of Casper, WY
I-25 East out of Casper, WY
There's a jackalope in them thar hills!!
There’s a jackalope in them thar hills!!

On the approach to Douglas, which is the “Jackalope Capital of the World”, there is a giant jackalope up on a hill overlooking Interstate 25.  It is the first sign of Jackalope everywhere….

Welcome to Douglas, Wyoming, home of the Jackalope
Welcome to Douglas, Wyoming, home of the Jackalope

This trip was my second one to Douglas, the first with my son Solomon back in 2007.  I also wrote a guest post about the Jacakalope for author/blogger Tui Snider’s Mental Mosaic Blog (see my article HERE).  However, on this trip I wanted to make sure I also got my Jackalope Hunting License.

Giant Jackalope in front of Douglas Chamber of Commerce Visitor's Center
Giant Jackalope in front of Douglas Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center
And a Sumoflamalope was also spotted in Douglas, WY
And a Sumoflamalope was also spotted in Douglas, WY

In the visitor’s center I was kindly greeted by Chamber Assistant Director Patty Morrell who took time to show me around, tell me a bit of history AND get me all set with my OFFICIAL “Limited Non-Resident Jackalope License”.  She also was kind enough to slip me a Jackalope Sticker and a Jackalope pin.

My Official Jackalope License
My Official Jackalope License – I love the Chief Licensor’s name – Adam Lyre

The Visitor’s Center has a number of unique Jackalope goodies…here are a few

New Douglas Chamber of Commerce Logo with a Jackalope
New Douglas Chamber of Commerce Logo with a Jackalope
A cuddly Jackalope
A cuddly Jackalope
Stagbunny "The Movie" Promo
Stagbunny “The Movie” Promo

In 2006 there was a movie called “Stagbunny” about one man’s hunt for the elusive Jackalope.  Here is the trailer (get ready to chuckle)

Posing with some of the collection in Douglas
Posing with some of the collection in Douglas
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye

I should note that the Douglas Visitor’s Center also has some nice trains to look at if you are interested in these.

Old Train Engine on display at the Douglas Visitor's Center
Old Train Engine on display at the Douglas Visitor’s Center

Before heading out of town I came across the White Wolf Saloon in downtown Douglas.  Another great Kitschy place.  Had to take a couple of shots.

White Wolf Saloon in Douglas, WY
White Wolf Saloon in Douglas, WY
A couple of characters in front of the White Wold Saloon
A couple of characters in front of the White Wold Saloon

Of course, I had to move on to get to Carhenge in time so I was back on US 20 heading east towards Lusk, Wyoming. US 20 and US 26 split at Orin Junction south of Douglas and that is where US Route 18 begins and joins with US 20.

US 18/20 to Lusk, WY
US 18/20 to Lusk, WY

This section of highway parallels the railroad tracks from Orin to Lusk and is pretty desolate, but there are a few things to be seen…

US 20 east out of Orin, Wyoming
US 20 east out of Orin, Wyoming
Interesting mesas can be seen on US 20
Interesting mesas can be seen on US 20

But, one of the more unique dots on the map on this stretch of highway is Lost Springs, WY.  In 1976 the town was designated as the smallest incorporated town in America.  At the time, its population was eleven.  In 2007 I drove through and, at the time, it was one of only a handful of towns in the US with a population of 1.  Here is a photo of me from that visit.

Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2007
Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2007

On this visit the town had boomed back to a population of FOUR….

Lost Springs in 2014 - ironically I was wearing the same shirt 7 years later!!!
Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2014 – ironically I was wearing the same shirt 7 years later!!!

I had hoped to actually drop into their Post Office/Shop, but they were closed.  Nevertheless, here are a couple of shots of Lost Springs today (I took some in 2007 too).

Lost Springs Store and Post Office, Lost Springs, WY
Lost Springs Store and Post Office, Lost Springs, WY
Welcome to Lost Springs
Lost Springs Welcomes You. Well, not quite…nobody was home.
101 Main Street, Lost Springs, WY
101 Main Street, Lost Springs, WY
Lost Springs Public Facilities
Lost Springs Public Facilities (Better than those in Hell, Michigan mind you….)
Another view of the Lost Springs store and post office
Another view of the Lost Springs store and post office
The Lost Springs Chuckwagon??
The Lost Springs Chuckwagon??

Back on US 18/20 I continued east.  Lots of highway and long trains and even an old truck stop in the middle of nowhere.

US 18/20 east of Lost Springs, WY
US 18/20 east of Lost Springs, WY
The road goes on forever and so do the trains
The road goes on forever and so do the trains
3 Sisters Truck Stop sign near Manville, WY
3 Sisters Truck Stop sign near Manville, WY

From Manville it was on to Lusk, Wyoming.  Yet another small town on the road, Lusk boasts a population of about 1500.  Just a stop on the railroad tracks, it does offer one unique site….an old wooden train water tower.

Lusk, Wyoming
Lusk, Wyoming
Old Red Wooden Water Tower
Old Redwood Water Tower
Redwood Water Tank
Redwood Water Tank in Lusk, WY

IMG_6595The old water tower was originally built in 1886 to furnish water for the Fremont, Elkhorn, Missouri Valley Railroad Steam Engines. The town of Lusk was established at the same time. The wooden tower is round, with a diameter of about 25 feet. The tank is about 25 feet high on a 25-foot base. The structure is believed to be composed of Douglas fir, while the tank itself is redwood. It is apparently the only surviving structure of its kind in Wyoming.

US 20 East out of Lusk, WY
US 20 East out of Lusk, WY

After a brief stop  in Lusk it was eastward towards Nebraska, with a flyby past Van Tassell, the last town in Wyoming.

Van Tassell, WY
Van Tassell, WY – Population 15
A scene from Van Tassell, WY
A scene from Van Tassell, WY

And into Nebraska I rolled….

Sumoflam in Nebraska
Sumoflam in Nebraska
On the border, there is a building with a windmill growing out of it....
On the border, there is a building with a windmill growing out of it….

This section of US 20 is also called the “Bridges to Buttes Scenic Highway” and runs for about 200 miles across northern Nebraska. This is Nebraska in its rawest form, as the subtle and rolling sandhills transform into striking and majestic bluffs and buttes.

Bridges to Buttes Byway in western Nebraska on US 20
Bridges to Buttes Byway in western Nebraska on US 20
Rolling hills of US 20 in western Nebraska
Rolling hills of US 20 in western Nebraska

From the rolling hills, the scenery opens up into beautiful buttes on the approach to Crawford, Nebraska.

Buttes of Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford, Nebraska
Legend Buttes of Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford, Nebraska
US 20 approaching Crawford, Nebraska and the Butte Country
US 20 approaching Crawford, Nebraska and the Butte Country

After the long drive from Casper through the prairies of eastern Wyoming, I had to make stop in Crawford, “The Garden Beyond the Sandhills.”

Welcome to Crawford, Nebraska
Welcome to Crawford, Nebraska
Old house in Crawford, NE
Old house in Crawford, NE

From Crawford I headed southeast on Nebraska Highway 2 towards Alliance.  This highway was a nice drive through the small town of Hemingford, Nebraska.

Nebraska Hwy 2/71 heading southeast towards Hemingford
Nebraska Hwy 2/71 heading southeast towards Hemingford
Nebraska Hwy 2/71
Nebraska Hwy 2/71
Old church near Hemingford, Nebraska
Old church near Hemingford, Nebraska
Welcome to Hemingford, Nebraska
Welcome to Hemingford, Nebraska
Hemingford water tower
Hemingford water tower

I loved the little police station in downtown Hemingford.  One of the smaller ones I have seen.

Hemingford Police Station
Hemingford Police Station

From Hemingford it was on to Alliance, one of my main destination goals for this trip….

Alliance, Nebraska
Alliance, Nebraska

My object in Alliance was the famed Car Art spot “Carhenge.

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Wide view of Carhenge
Wide view of Carhenge

Due to the nature of this great roadside attraction, I have actually done a full blog post on Carhenge.  You can see that HERE. So, I’ll just add one last photo below…you can see the rest on my other post.

Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE
Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

From Alliance I still had a ways to go as I continued on Nebraska Hwy 2 towards my final destination for the day, Grand Island, Nebraska.  This section of Hwy 2 is also known as the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway on Nebraska Hwy 2
Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway on Nebraska Hwy 2
Nebraska Highway 2 Sandhills Journey
Nebraska Highway 2 Sandhills Journey

The drive from Alliance to Grand Island was still about 272 miles so I was literally driving into the sunset over the beautiful rolling Sandhills of Nebraska. The Sandhills represent the largest remaining grassland ecosystem in the United States that is still virtually intact for both flora and fauna. It is the largest sand-dune area in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest grass-stabilized dune regions in the world. I wish I could have taken more time to see it, but I did get to enjoy a fabulous sunset as I passed the small town of Hyannis, Nebraska.

Sunset over Beem Lake in the Sandhills of Nebraska...
Sunset over Beem Lake in the Sandhills of Nebraska…

I continued for a couple more hours on Nebraska 2 finally arriving in Grand Island about 1 AM after a drive of about 720 miles and on the road from 7 AM to 1 AM – 18 hours.  Yes, I was tired, but I was certainly happy with the wonder of the day’s journey.

(8449)

4600 Miles of Back Roads Bliss

Following My Bliss
Following My Bliss!
Shaded hills on US Route 2 as the sun lowered in the sky east of Wolf Point, MT
Shaded hills on US Route 2 as the sun lowered in the sky east of Wolf Point, MT

As I returned home from my long nine-day trip across America I wanted to take a quick look back at all the events.

The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND
The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND

Over the course of this trip I have covered 12 states, over 4600 miles, taken almost 2000 photos (including over 100 “selfies” and have seen all kinds of things.

The famed Paul Bunyan and Babe statues made in 1937 in Bemidji, MN
The famed Paul Bunyan and Babe statues made in 1937 in Bemidji, MN

The big highlights of this trip were visiting the Paul Bunyan and Big Blue in Bemidji, Minnesota, driving up the Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming/Montana, and hitting Carhenge in Nebraska.

The Beartooth Mountains were breathtaking!
The Beartooth Mountains were breathtaking!
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.  One of the highlights of the trip
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. One of the highlights of the trip

Along with these, I saw many other interesting places. I had numerous oddball sites along the way including a pink elephant, big bears, Jackalopes and many other roadside attractions.

Jackalope statue in Douglas, Wyoming
Jackalope statue in Douglas, Wyoming

This trip took me along many US highways as I generally avoided the interstate whenever possible. I was fortunate enough to drive a big chunk US Route 2: all the way from Ironwood, Michigan to the eastern edge of Glacier National Park where US 2 intersects with US 89. That route has some amazing scenery, lots of variety and other wonderful things.

US Route 2 in Wisconsin
US Route 2 in Wisconsin
Miles of birch forest line Route 2 in eastern Wisconsin
Miles of birch forest line Route 2 in eastern Wisconsin
US 89 and US 2 meet up in northern Montana
US 89 and US 2 meet up in northern Montana

As I noted above, I took Route 2 all the way to where it met US Highway 89. I later drove US 89 from the US 2/US 89 intersection near Glacier National Park along the eastern rim down to the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Throughout my years of travel I have covered a good portion US 89 all the way down to Mexico and all the way up to Canada but never in one fell swoop. In my opinion, US 89 is probably the most scenic of all the US highways. US Route 66 may be the most famous, but US 89 passes by a number national parks and monuments, as well as numerous other scenic places. From the north you would drive by Glacier, then Yellowstone, continue south through the Rocky Mountains, down through southern Utah near Bryce and Zion national parks, crossover Lake Powell at Glen Canyon dam, head towards Flagstaff and pass Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments, then pass the Grand Canyon, and continue south all the way to Mexico. An amazing drive down nature’s “Grand Staircase.”

Scenes from US 89
Scenes from US 89
The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park
The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

As with most of my trips, I also captured the abundance of wildlife, some of which I was able to photograph. I had close-ups of deer, antelope, bison and a few waterbirds. I drove through the wetlands of Minnesota, the marshlands of North Dakota, and the sandhills of Nebraska, all of which had an abundance of waterfowl.

Antelope in Wyoming
Pronghorn Antelope in Wyoming
A black-necked stilt in North Dakota
A black-necked stilt in North Dakota
A prairie dog scampers in the grass near Cut Bank, Montana
A prairie dog scampers in the grass near Cut Bank, Montana
A seagull on Lake Superior in Ashland, WI
A seagull on Lake Superior in Ashland, WI

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet some amazing people along this road trip. I met some expert woodcarvers in Wisconsin and I met with rice growers in Wisconsin. I had a long talk with the people in Bemidji, Minnesota. While in Douglas, Wyoming I got to meet with the people there about the Jackalope got my “official” Jackalope hunting license and other goodies from them. At Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming I met a photographer from Wisconsin who also writes blogs and has many similar interests in travel. I hope to exchange stories and photos with him. Then at Carhenge I met a time lapse photographer and some other interesting people and even donated my MARDUP (Married Up) license plate to the Carhenge gift shop. I don’t want to forget the small Old Trail Museum in the small town of Choteau, Montana with dinosaurs and other unique things.

Hell's Half Acre in Wyoming
Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming
Hanging with the Grizz Works guys in Maple, WI
Hanging with the Grizz Works guys in Maple, WI
Donating "MARDUP" license plate at Carhenge
Donating “MARDUP” license plate at Carhenge
The Old Trail Museum in Choteau Museum has scary dinosaurs
The Old Trail Museum in Choteau Museum has scary dinosaurs

As with most of my trips, I didn’t visit all of my planned locations. But along the way there were many in expected surprises that I ran across. These are what really make these trips worthwhile! Perhaps two of my most exciting surprises were visiting Rock City in northern Montana ( with my Grandkidz) and Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming. Both of these are basically uncharted geographic and geologic formations that are really amazing.

Rock City near Valier, Montana
Rock City near Valier, Montana

As always, I was delighted to be around the mountains! I was fortunate to be able drive along the eastern rim of Glacier National Park at sunrise and see the beauty of the snow-covered mountains there. Driving down US 89 from Shelby towards Yellowstone, I saw an abundance of wonderful mountain vistas. Then one of my bucket list trips was accomplished on this as I drove the Beartooth mountain range which sits atop the border of Montana and Wyoming. That was an amazing adventure as I drove all the way up 11,000 feet to the “Top of the World” as they call it there. Deep snow surrounded the roads and the vistas looking down on the mountains were absolutely breathtaking.

A scene from the 'Top of the World" looking down on the Beartooth Range
A scene from the ‘Top of the World” looking down on the Beartooth Range
The Beartoth Range as seen from Boysen Reservoir in Wyoming
The Beartoth Range as seen from Boysen Reservoir in Wyoming
Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park
Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park

This trip will actually provide me enough content to warrant a number of blog posts for me as I visited so many locations and saw so many different things. In the past, I have tried to throw it all into one giant blog. But this time around I met with people and I dug a little deeper and took more pictures of various locations so that I can focus on the smaller picture items. For sure I will have blog posts about US Route 2, US Route 89, the Beartooth, Bemidji, Douglas, and probably a few others.

Mountain Scene in Montana
Mountain Scene in Montana
The Big Fish in Bena, Wisconsin
The Big Fish in Bena, Wisconsin
Top of a replica of an old Scandinavian Church in Minot, ND
Top of a replica of an old Scandinavian Church in Minot, ND

With the new technology of wireless devices, I was able to take a lot of “selfies” along the route. My goal was to get 100 selfies, but I actually got 96 on this trip. Using Instagram, I hash tagged them with #100selfies and shared them on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites. Ultimately, I plan on a “100 Selfies” blog post including all of the photographs and the stories behind them.

Selfie with Pink Elephant of DeForest, WI
Selfie with Pink Elephant of DeForest, WI
Selfie at Rugby, ND
Selfie at Rugby, ND
Selfie at an old school house near Havre, MT
Selfie at an old school house near Havre, MT
Selfie with Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI
Selfie with Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI

Of course, I cannot neglect noting the real reason I took the trip which was my grandson Kade’s baptism. It was amazing to be able to spend time with my four grandchildren and my daughter Amaree and her husband Aaron for four days in Shelby, Montana.

With grandson Kade for his baptism
With grandson Kade for his baptism
Hanging with the Grandkidz in Montana
Hanging with the Grandkidz in Montana

During the course of this trip, I probably took over 2000 photographs. Much of them were scenery and unique sites. But I also captured the sense of the fading America – the old neon signs, the old abandoned houses and barns, schools and churches, the small-town theaters and their marquees. I captured small-town murals and Wall art.

Old Americana in El Paso, IL
Old Americana in El Paso, IL
Old Neon sign for Bahr's Motel outlived the motel, which is no longer in Deer River, MN
Old Neon sign for Bahr’s Motel outlived the motel, which is no longer in Deer River, MN
Bay Cinema, Ashland, WI
Bay Cinema, Ashland, WI
An Old Truck by a pond in North Dakota
An Old Truck by a pond in North Dakota
Part of the front display of a "collectibles" shop west of Odanah, WI on US Route 2
Part of the front display of a “collectibles” shop west of Odanah, WI on US Route 2

I also captured an abundance of nature including beautiful sunrises and sunsets, amazing cloud formations, wildlife, wonderful vistas of the prairies and mountains and many many shots of scenes from the road

Sunset along Nebraska Hwy 2 in the Sandhills
Sunset along Nebraska Hwy 2 in the Sandhills
A lonely tree along the highway in Nebraska
A lonely tree along the highway in Nebraska
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
Mountains, mesas and prairies south of Cody, Wyoming
Mountains, mesas and prairies south of Cody, Wyoming
Unique Cloud formation in Wyoming points the way for me to go
Unique Cloud formation in Wyoming points the way for me to go

For me, these trips are not about the destinations. These trips are about the experience. It is all in the trip! This nine-day adventure, as with other long trips I have taken the past couple of years, will leave me cherished memories to the day that I die.  Watch soon for detailed posts about the trip.

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Bison poses for me in Yellowstone National Park
Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND
Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND
Sandhills Drive - Nebraska Route 2
Sandhills Drive – Nebraska Route 2

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A Day Drive in Central Idaho: Volcanoes, Mountains and Rivers

Teepee in Stanley, ID
Teepee in Stanley, ID

June 8, 2013:  I had a free day in Rexburg, ID so I thought I would take a day trip into the heart of Idaho.  I visited old nuclear sites, sagebrush filled grasslands, ancient volcanic flows, rugged (and jagged) mountains and riverine landscapes .  It was an awesome day of geographic and scenic diversity.  Here is my map of the trip:


View Larger Map – Rexburg to the Sawtooths and Salmon River

I decided to leave early so I could catch all of the day’s sunlight.  It would be a long day.  After heading south to Idaho Falls, I stayed on US 20 west and made my way to the gravel road that leads to the small, nearly ghost town of Atomic City.  I had seen earlier reviews on the town on Roadside America. I could see that the content of the article was a bit dated as I made my way into the small town.  Atomic City was, at one time, a boom city due to the growth in nuclear research facilities in the area, namely the Idaho National Laboratory and its many secret test facilities in the area.

US 20 west out of Idaho Falls
US 20 west out of Idaho Falls
Land of Elephant Hunters
Land of Elephant Hunters

About 12,000 years ago hunters came to this area for big game such as mammoths, camels and giant bison.  Looking at the landscape now, it is difficult to imagine.

Big Butte, Idaho
Big Butte, Idaho
Three Buttes Site
Three Buttes Site
Sagebrush and mountains near Atomic City
Sagebrush and mountains near Atomic City
Gravel Road to Atomic City
Gravel Road to Atomic City
Atomic City, ID
Atomic City, ID

The town used to have a store, a bar and a Texaco gas station.  The gas station used to house the bar.  Both appear to be closed now.  In fact, the gas station does not even have the Post Office sign on it any longer.  but the vestiges of the old town still remain…

Old bar sign by the old Texaco Station
Old bar sign by the old Texaco Station
Old Twin Buttes Cafe
Old Twin Buttes Cafe

Despite the ghostly appearance of the town, from May thru September the weekends are pretty active here with the Atomic Motor Raceway, which still offers locals the opportunity to race their dwarf karts, minis, modifieds and other stock cars.  They had no event the day I was there.

Atomic Motor Raceway, Atomic City, ID
Atomic Motor Raceway, Atomic City, ID

There are some old potato barns and wildflowers that caught my eye in Atomic City as well.  A sign that there is still some semblance of life….

Potato Barns
Sod Roof Potato Barns in Atomic City
Wildflowers in Atomic City
Wildflowers in Atomic City

I left the town of about 20 people and headed west on US 20/26 towards the town of Arco next.

US Routes 20/26
US Routes 20/26
Twin Buttes near Atomic City as seen heading west to Arco, ID
Twin Buttes near Atomic City as seen heading west to Arco, ID
Sawtooth Range n the Distance
Sawtooth Range in the Distance

Along the way there was a nice new Rest Area that had some history included, especially concerning the Nuclear Work in the area.

Nuclear Reactor sign
Nuclear Reactor sign
Nuclear Reactors info
Nuclear Reactors info
The Road to Arco, ID
The Road to Arco, ID

Arco, Idaho is a town of about 1000 people and is located in Butte County, Idaho. Originally known as Root Hog, the original town site was five miles south at the junction of two stagecoach lines (Blackfoot-Wood River and Blackfoot-Salmon). A suspension bridge that crossed the Big Lost River funneled traffic through the settlement. The town leaders applied to the U.S. Post Office for the town name of “Junction.” However, The Postmaster General thought the name too common and suggested that the place be named Arco for Georg von Arco (1869–1940), an inventor and pioneer in the field of radio transmission, who was visiting Washington, D.C. from his home country of Germany at the time. The town later moved four miles southeast when the stage station was moved to Webb Springs at Big Southern Butte. When the Oregon Short Line railroad arrived from Blackfoot in 1901 the stage lines became obsolete and the town of Arco moved northwest to its present site.

Downtown Arco, Idaho
Downtown Arco, Idaho

Arco was the first community in the world ever to be lit by electricity generated by nuclear power. This occurred on July 17, 1955, powered by Argonne National Laboratory’s BORAX-III reactor at the nearby National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), which eventually became the site of the Idaho National Energy Laboratory, a predecessor of the current Idaho National Laboratory.

Arco, Idaho City Hall
Arco, Idaho City Hall – First City to be powered by Nuclear Energy
Historical Sign in Arco
Historical Sign in Arco

Arco is also known for “Number Hill”, a butte behind the city with a bunch of numbers on it.  History of the hill states that the tradition began with the 1920 graduating class of Butte County High School when they painted a 20 up on the hill.  Since that time the tradition has continued with each class adding their years to the hill.  There is now even a cafe in town named after it.

Number Hill - Arco, ID
Number Hill – Arco, ID
Number Hill Grill - Arco, ID
Number Hill Grill – Arco, ID
Number Hill Grill
Number Hill Grill

A few more scenes from Arco

Submarine Sail of USS Hawkbill
Submarine Sail of USS Hawkbill

The USS Hawkbill SSN-666 (also known as the Devil Boat) was launched in 1969 and was decommissioned in 2000.  The sail was sent to Arco to be added to the Idaho Science Center, which is housed in Arco.

Pickles Place - Home of the "Atomic Burger"
Pickles Place – Home of the “Atomic Burger”
EAT sign at Pickle's Place in Arco, ID
EAT sign at Pickle’s Place in Arco, ID
Wall Mural in Arco, ID
Wall Mural in Arco, ID
The DK Motel - found a motel named after me
The DK Motel – found a motel named after me!!

My next stop on the route was a visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument, one of at least six National Monuments dedicated to volcanoes (see list of National Monuments). Lewis and Clark came across this expansive area of Cinder Cones and Lava Flows in 1805.

The road to Craters of the Moon
The road to Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon Entrance
Craters of the Moon Entrance
Craters of the Moon sign with mountains in background
Craters of the Moon sign with mountains in background

Though many had come before, the official name “Craters of the Moon” was coined by Robert Limbert who was the first man to thoroughly explore and promote the area. The name became official in 1924 when the area was established as a National Monument.

Expansive views of the lava flows
Expansive views of the lava flows

The lava flows here were a result of fissure eruptions that would create cinder cones due to the high fluidity of the basalt flows that allowed gasses to escape.  Sunset Crater in Arizona is very similar to this.

Blocky aa Lava Flow
Blocky aa Lava Flow

Lava flows called “aa” are basaltic lava flows characterized by a rough or rubbly surface composed of broken lava blocks called clinker.  This is really rough stuff and scary to walk on.

Lava monoliths in the Devil's Orchard section of the park
Lava monoliths in the Devil’s Orchard section of the park
Devil's Orchard
Devil’s Orchard
Basalt Flows
Basalt Flows
Green in the lava flows
Green in the lava flows

There are a number of Cinder Cones in the park, some of which may be climbed by visitors.

Hiking a cinder cone
Hiking a cinder cone
Flows and hills
Flows and hills

I was very fortunate in my timing in the park as many of the native wildflowers were in bloom.  These wildflowers struggle for the little water and naturally space themselves, pretty amazing.

Fields of Yellow
Fields of Yellow
Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Larkspur
Larkspur
Larkspur closeup
Larkspur closeup
Delicate Yellow Wood Sorrel
Delicate Yellow Wood Sorrel
Dwarf Buckwheat
Dwarf Buckwheat – amazed with pink and white – blooms are smaller than a dime
Pink Wildflowers
Pink Wildflowers
Who knows?
Who knows?

And a few more lava photos…

Green in the Lava
Green in the Lava
Lava, trees and mountains
Lava, trees and mountains

From the Craters of the Moon I headed down the “Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway” for what I consider to be the real HIGHlight of the trip….

Peaks to Craters Scenic byway
Peaks to Craters Scenic byway

And then passed by Goodale’s Cutoff

Goodale's Cutoff
Goodale’s Cutoff

The road goes on forever through the lava…much easier today then it was for the emigrants

US 20 heading to Idaho 75 and Carey, ID
US 20 heading to Idaho 75 and Carey, ID
Welcome to Carey, Idaho
Welcome to Carey, Idaho

Carey, Idaho is basically the Gateway to Idaho 75 heading into the Sawtooth Mountains. Actually, Carey is located at the junctions of U.S. Routes 26/93 and 20 and is the commercial center of the Little Wood River Valley. It was founded by a group of Mormon colonists led by Cyrus Joseph Stanford in 1883 who named the town “Marysville.” It was renamed “Carey” with the arrival of his younger brother, Thomas C. Stanford in 1884.

Farm tractor on highway in Carey, ID
Farm tractor on highway in Carey, ID
Dino sighting in Carey, ID
Dino sighting in Carey, ID
Mountains as seen from Carey, ID
Mountains as seen from Carey, ID

And then onto Idaho 75 and a new scenic byway

Sawtooth Scenic Byway
Sawtooth Scenic Byway

I would have to say that this drive was probably one of the more stunning mountain drives I have ever been on.  The jagged look (thus Sawtooth) of the range is impressive and awe inspiring.

First Look at the Sawtooth Range peeking out over the foothills
First Look at the Sawtooth Range peeking out over the foothills
First Stop - Bellevue, ID - Gateway to the Sawtooths
First Stop – Bellevue, ID – Gateway to the Sawtooths

The first town on ID 75 is Bellevue, Idaho, which is Idaho’s only chartered city. The town was established in March 1882 and currently has a population of about 2300.  It is nestled in the foothills at 5.170 feet, before advancing up into the higher altitudes.

Coke Ad on Bellevue Wall
Coke Ad on Bellevue Wall
Antelope Mural, Bellevue, ID
Antelope Mural, Bellevue, ID
Old Truck with Old Gasoline Ads
Old Truck with Old Gasoline Ads
Old Cabin in Downtown Bellevue, ID
Old Cabin in Downtown Bellevue, ID
Original Bellevue City Hall - Now the Old City Hall Museum
Original Bellevue City Hall – Now the Old City Hall Museum – unique building

Then there are the continuous stream of scrap metal animals, like this bear at a garden shop in Bellevue…

Scrap Metal Bear - Bellevue, ID
Scrap Metal Bear – Bellevue, ID

From Bellevue it was north to Hailey and then into the Ketchum/Sun Valley area.  From Bellevue the climb began and the mountains north began to look regal and grand.

Sawtootsh from ID 75 north of Hailey, ID
Sawtooths from ID 75 north of Hailey, ID

I arrived in Ketchum around noon.  This is a touristy town, obviously with the Sun Valley ski resorts and all of the summer mountain activity.  As with many of these kinds of towns, unique art abounds.  Here are a few “artsy” things I saw in Ketchum….

Straw building in Ketchum, ID
“Centerpiece” by Patrick Dougherty in Ketchum, ID

The above twig and branch sculpture, called “Centerpiece” was made by artist Patrick Dougherty, a North Carolina artist who works with tree saplings as his medium.  This was made in 2010for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, which will be building a new facility on the grounds where Centerpiece stands.  Dougherty has over 230 creations on exhibit all over the world.  See more of his work here.

Unique Sculpture
Unique Sculpture – Ketchum, Idaho
Moose! Yet another one for the collection. This one in Ketchum, Idaho
Moose! Yet another one for the collection. This one in Ketchum, Idaho

And then there are the unique places in town:

Pioneer Saloon - Ketchum, Idaho
Pioneer Saloon – Ketchum, Idaho

The Pioneer Saloon… Or the Commercial Club as it was called originally, was opened in the 1940’s as a gambling casino operated by Otis Hobbs. A few years later the casino was closed and the American Legion then took it over and used it as a meeting hall. For a short time, the building was converted into a dry goods store.  In the mid 60’s, the Pioneer was redesigned as a restaurant. The present version of the Pioneer Saloon dates from 1972 — hence the phrase “Where were you in 72.”

Gnome on a Bike - loved this graphic on a bike shop in Ketchum
Gnome on a Bike – loved this graphic on a bike shop in Ketchum

From the Ketchum/Sun Valley area I continued north on ID 75 into the mountains.  On this day I happened to be heading north while the Sawtooth Relay was in action.  I saw runners for miles and thought it was just a marathon.  Turns out it is a 62 mile relay race with teams of 6 running from Stanley, ID to Ketchum, ID along ID 75.  It is a fund raising event that apparently had over 300 teams in 2013.  I saw many of the team vans along the road.

Mountains and Runners - The Sawtooth Relay 2013
Mountains and Runners – The Sawtooth Relay 2013
More Mountain Views - with runners...
More Mountain Views – with runners…

The drive eventually got me to Galena Pass, which is at a little over 8700 feet.

Sawtooth Mountains heading north in ID 75
Boulder Mountains heading north in ID 75
More of the Boulder Mountains heading north in ID 75
More of the Boulder Mountains heading north in ID 75
Boulder Mountains heading north in ID 75
Boulder Mountains heading north in ID 75
Sign at Galena Pass, Idaho
Sign at Galena Pass, Idaho

Galena Summit marks the divide between the Big Wood River and Salmon River drainage areas.   Just a bit more down the road is the Galena Overlook, which offers an expansive view of the Sawtooth Range to the north and the headwaters of the Salmon River in the Stanley Basin below.

View from Galena Overlook
View from Galena Overlook

The view from Galena Overlook was awesome.  The blue lake in the bottom center will be seen in another photo from lake level as I ended up on that road below in the valley.

Sawtooth Range as seen from Galena OVerlook
Sawtooth Range as seen from Galena Overlook

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Bottom of the Stanley Basin. Lake from ground level
Bottom of the Stanley Basin. Lake from ground level
Salmon River source
Salmon River source

Just a small stream here, but turns into a mighty big river as it goes down the hill (which will be seen later in this post)

The beginnings of the Salmon River
The beginnings of the Salmon River
Antelope hanging around the source of the Salmon River near Vienna
Antelope hanging around the source of the Salmon River near Vienna

 

Vienna, Idaho
Vienna, Idaho

From this vantage point the rugged Sawtooth Range is clearly in sight….

Sawtooth Range as seen from Vienna
Sawtooth Range as seen from Vienna

From this area, as I ventured further north, I came to the Sawtooth City historical marker and then into the area around the crystal clear Alturas Lake.

Sawtooth City, Idaho
Sawtooth City, Idaho

 

Fun chain saw carving near Sawtooth City
Fun chain saw carving near Sawtooth City

The scenery from here was awe-inspiring as many of the views of the snow covered peaks also offered scenic carpets of flower covered meadows.

Flower Covered Meadows near Sawtooth City, ID
Flower Covered Meadows near Sawtooth City, ID
Alturas Lake in the Sawtooth Valley, ID
Alturas Lake in the Sawtooth Valley, ID

 

Fishing on Alturas Lake
Fishing on Alturas Lake
Kayaking on Alturas Lake
Kayaking on Alturas Lake
Mountains as seen on the road near Alturas Lake
Mountains as seen on the road near Alturas Lake

I continued north towards Redfish Lake and then into Stanley.  I wanted to stop at Redfish Lake, but my time was running short.  But the scenery was amazing…

Sawtooth Mountains near Redlake
Sawtooth Mountains near Redlake
Jagged Sawtooths near Stanley, ID
Jagged Sawtooths near Stanley, ID
Welcome to Stanley, Idaho
Welcome to Stanley, Idaho

Stanley, Idaho….I could SOOOO move here (in the summer at least).   Stanley is is the hub point for three different Scenic Byways (The Sawtooth, the Ponderosa Pine and the Salmon River). It sits in a valley surrounded by mountains at a little over 6200 feet in elevation.   It is a town with a number of small resorts/motels and a couple of places to eat.  Wikipedia says the population in 2010 was 63, but it appeared to be closer to 200 to me.

Hello from Stanley - with the Sawtooths in the background
Hello from Stanley – with the Sawtooths in the background
Cabin in Stanley, Idaho
Cabin in Stanley, Idaho
Scene from Stanley, Idaho
Scene from Stanley, Idaho
Filling up the Married Up Mobile with mountains in the background
Filling up the Married Up Mobile with mountains in the background

It had been a long day so far and I was hungry, so I stopped in at the Mountain Village Express (part of the Mountain Village Resort) to find something to eat.  Turns out they make breakfast all day and an omelet sounding appealing!!

Mountain Village Express interior
Mountain Village Express interior
My Lunch - an omelet at Mountain Village Express in Stanley
My Lunch – an omelet at Mountain Village Express in Stanley
Hotel in Stanley, Idaho?
Motel in Stanley, Idaho?

Perhaps one of the most scenic photos I have ever taken….

The Sawtooths as seen from Lower Stanley, Idaho
The Sawtooths and the Salmon River as seen from Lower Stanley, Idaho
Teepee in Stanley, ID
Teepee in Stanley, ID

I hated to leave Stanley, but I had to begin the winding descent along the Salmon River back into Rexburg.  I went through Lower Stanley and then followed the Salmon River Scenic Byway.  At first it was still rugged mountains and a raging river, enticing to rafters and kayakers (and probably bears too…)

Scene along the Salmon River byway
Scene along the Salmon River Scenic Byway
Salmon River Scenic Byway
Salmon River Scenic Byway
The Salmon River surges
The Salmon River surges
Some rafters enjoy the ride on the Salmon River
Some rafters enjoy the ride on the Salmon River
Raging Rapids on the Salmon
Raging Rapids on the Salmon

The mountains soon began to fade away in the background as a more desertish/volcanic landscape.  Nonetheless, this was rugged country full of deep gorges, steep hills and to me was reminiscent of western movie scenes.

One of many chasms along the Salmon River
One of many chasms along the Salmon River
Slippery lava slopes on the Salmon River Scenic Byway
Slippery lava slopes on the Salmon River Scenic Byway
Old cabins and flowery meadow along the Salmon River Scenic Byway
Old cabins and flowery meadows along the Salmon River Scenic Byway
Multi-Colored views along the Salmon River Scenic Byway
Multi-Colored views along the Salmon River Scenic Byway
Clayton Smelter
Clayton Smelter
Clayton, Idaho - Population 7
Clayton, Idaho – Population 7

As I approached the historical marker above, there was a County Sheriff taking radar.  It is a downhill road and Clayton is on the county line.  I stopped for a couple of photos and a small chit-chat with the sheriff who told me that Clayton is practically a ghost town.  The sign above says it all!

Old wagons seen near Challis,ID
Old wagons at Land of Yankee Fork Interpretive Center seen near Challis, ID
Old mining equipment at Land of Yankee Fork Interpretive Center near Challis, ID
Old mining equipment at Land of Yankee Fork Interpretive Center near Challis, ID
Colorful buttes near Challis, ID
Colorful buttes near Challis, ID

As I hit US Route 93 from ID 75, I headed southeast towards Mackay, ID on US 93.  To my excitement the mountains were not all gone.  Indeed, I headed toward a new set range of mountains and drove through some pretty spectacular canyons as I entered the Grand View Canyon then out into the Lost River Valley which then opens up to an awesome view of the Lost River Mountain Range, which is home to the 9 highest peaks in Idaho.

Grandview Canyon on US 93 - northern section of the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway
Grandview Canyon on US 93 – northern section of the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway
Lost River Mountains, Idaho
Lost River Mountains, Idaho
Mount Borah as seen from Willow Creek Summit, Elev 7160 feet
Mount Borah as seen from Willow Creek Summit, Elev 7160 feet

Mount Borah is the highest mountain in Idaho at 12,667 feet and one of the most prominent peaks in the contiguous states. This mountain was named for William E. Borah, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1907 until 1940. A major earthquake fracture in October 1983 that was 26 miles long and 7 miles deep surfaced forcing the Lost River Valley to slide away from Mt. Borah.  The valley subsided 9 feet after the quake.

Driving towards Mt. Borah, Idaho's highest peak
Driving towards Mt. Borah, Idaho’s highest peak
Lost River Mountains, Idaho
Lost River Mountains, Idaho

Funny thing — along the way I came across a fence about 40 yards or more covered with boots and shoes….

Boot Fence near Mount Borah
Boot Fence near Mount Borah
Boot Fence with Mount Borah in background
Boot Fence with Mount Borah in background

Continuing south on US 93 i rolled into the small town of Mackay (prounounced MacKee locally).

Welcome to Mackay, Idaho
Welcome to Mackay, Idaho
Downtown Mackay, Idaho
Downtown Mackay, Idaho
Mine Hill Grill, Mackay, Idaho - home of the "World Famous Burnt Lemonade"
Mine Hill Grill, Mackay, Idaho – home of the “World Famous Burnt Lemonade”

Mackay is home to the Mackay Mine Hill which still allows tours, some of them apparently pretty grueling.

More slow tractors - started the day off with one...ending the day with another. This is Idaho.
More slow tractors – started the day off with one…ending the day with another. This is Idaho!

I made my way down US 93 back thru Arco and then to US 26/20 until the junction with Idaho 33, where I then proceeded east back towards Rexburg thru the small town of Howe.

Out of the mountains and into the sagebrush
Out of the mountains and into the sagebrush on ID 33 east towards Rexburg.
Scenic cinder Hills and Shadows as seen on Idaho Hwy 33
Scenic shadowy hills as seen on Idaho Hwy 33

This was a 13 hour road trip with an amazing diversity of scenery, geography and landscapes.  Probably one of the more amazing day trips I have ever taken to this point in terms of variety and excitement.  I really could have spent three days doing this and really digging in deeper.  Maybe next time….

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