Traffic Jam Leaving Eclipse


After heavy traffic heading toward Boise after the Eclipse on August 21, once we headed east along the South Fork of the Payette river at Banks we had easy going. The line-up going the other direction was 6 miles long and we stopped once to explain to concerned motorists why they were stopped. After 60 miles of gravel road, both car and trailer were very dusty, so we made time to use a car wash in Garden Valley, then continued east. We ended up that night at a Forest Service campground at Kirkham Hot Springs. I doused myself with comfortably warm water from one of the springs and Cynthia sat in a pool which was too hot for me (see the featured photo above). The stream and pool was right next to our campsite.

On August 22, we had a short (two-hour) drive farther up the South Fork of the Payette, then over a summit into Stanley Basin, which is the headwaters of the Salmon River. We had a reservation for one night at a campground at Redfish Lake, but found another site we could have for two days at Sockeye Campground, so chose that. In the afternoon we visited the Visitor Center, and had a root-beer float at Redfish Lake Lodge. We were disappointed that they were not still serving the molten chocolate cake that made such and impression on us 10 years ago. We enjoyed some backgammon and a walk along the lakeshore, although the usually spectacular Sawtooth Mountains were hazy from fires in the region. We heard a lot of helicopter and plane traffic that we learned was related to the nearby fires.

Hazy Redfish Lake and Sawtooths

On August 23rd we geared up to take a hike to “Bridal Veil Falls” about 9 miles west of Stanley. But we were thwarted because the road off the main highway was closed to through traffic. There were two helicopters and ground support trucks and staff at the junction. It turned out that one of the fires was near the trailhead that we wanted to use and we had to abandon that plan. We considered other hikes, but decided that because the scenery was so limited by the smoky haze, we would “pull up stakes” and head for Craters of the Moon National Monument. This gave Cynthia her first drive over the Galena summit from Stanley Basin into the Big Wood River drainage and also a quick tour of Sun Valley.

Larry at Spatter Cone in Craters of the Moon

When we arrived at Craters of the Moon at about 3:00 PM, we were disappointed to discover that the campground was full. They were experiencing heavy demand from all the eclipse watchers deciding to see other points of interest in the area. We took an hour or so to tour the main loop and see a few of the features, then headed to Arco, where we spent the night in an RV Park that had views of local buttes and mountains. We met a couple from the UK (wales) who had come for the eclipse and had made plans over two years ago. They were in a rented sleeper van they picked up in Boise and were touring for nine days—and had also been turned away for camping at Craters.

We headed further east through the Idaho National Laboratory and lots of flat, straight roads on August 24th and had lunch in Idaho Falls and visited the Museum of Idaho there. We were ensconced in a Forest Service campground right along the Snake River near Swan Valley by 4:00 PM and had some time to relax, read, take a short walk along the river and continue our backgammon tournament, now in its fourth decade (Note: Cynthia is ahead in this decade).

Cynthia Reading by Snake River