There’s going to be a little trend of going back and forth into Idaho. The truth is, we love it there! Idaho is an absolute hidden gem that we rarely hear about and we feel thankful to experience it before the word completely gets out.
Anyways, we woke up super early to drive to the Wallowas hoping there was some small chance we would beat the bad weather and be able to do a hike. Unfortunately, the next three days of our trip it was basically rain and we arrived to Joseph, Oregon unable to see the cloud covered Wallowas. We can only imagine how beautiful they are, so I guess that means we will have to come back!
At the base of the mountains is a small town, Joseph, there we stopped in all sorts of cute shops. One in particular was a chocolate shop called Arrowhead Chocolates. There we sampled delicious salted caramel hot chocolate and their homemade spicy chai. It being a chocolate shop we also indulged in chai and honey-lavender truffles.
Before heading to our campsite (we recommend reserving in advance because no matter the weather the Wallowa state park is packed) we stopped by a local grocery store to pick up some tea for a cozy day. Of course Scott got roped into some local meat and we decided that night we would splurge and have a few sous vide steaks (yes we brought the Sous Vide in the van, and yes I know how high maintenance that is haha).
The Wallowa State park was beautiful, right on the lake surrounded by mountains. Even better, they had hot showers for free! It had been a while since we had taken a regular shower, so this was pure excitement. The campground itself has around 200 sites both hook-up and non. We decided to test our awning off the side of the van in its first serious rain and it held up to the test! We were able to sit outside, people watch, cook, and stay cozy dry without being cramped in the van. Best yet Scott hooked up the electric blanket so I could sit in my camp chair sipping tea all cozy and warm!
Because the weather wasn’t great we decided the next day to move on through to Ketchum, Idaho in route to Yellowstone National Park. The drive through Idaho was beautiful, lots of mountains, rivers, and greenery without a whole lot of people. But it was LONG. We were a bit ambitious in thinking that we would be able to get to Sun Valley and potentially shoot up towards Yellowstone in one day. What’s new though?!
Idaho is known for their natural hot springs, they have commerical ones as well, but with COVID those are all closed. Our first stop was a hot spring called Kirkham Hot Springs. Unfortunately we got there late in the day and opted to camp nearby and wake-up early to get there before the crowds. Our campsite was just 10 minutes down the road, had no name, and no fee. It was on the river and the perfect place for a little snooze. We even had some rowdy neighbors that decided to get in an all out battle royal argument before we were headed to bed, it was a bit comical being able to snoop on their conversation from the van.
The next morning we were able to get to the hot springs early enough and got a perfect natural rock bath right along the river to ourselves. From there we decided to travel on to an even more hidden gem. It was called Boat Box hot spring, literally off of the side of the highway, a small man-made pool with the ability to drain out all the water, pipe in hot water, and take a bucket to combine cold river water with the scorching hot geothermal water. Someone had taken the time to craft this right into the river and we felt so lucky to experience it!
From there we headed toward Sun Valley/Ketchum area. On the way we encountered unexpected snowy passes, and beautiful campgrounds that we’ll have to come back to. The Ketchum area is definitely snooty, it felt Tahoe-ish, a perfect mountain town in the Sawtooth Mountain range (again a place we need to spend A LOT more time in soon). Sun Valley is the neighboring resort. We walked through, it looked a little outdated, but it was nice. Even nicer were the homes in the surrounding areas, easily multi-million dollar mansions looking out at the mountains.
Our last stop before pushing all the way to Yellowstone was called Craters of the Moon National Park. Scott was stoked about this one. Me on the other hand, I was NOT impressed. We did a little hike to a look out and all it was were lava fields. After having been to the lava fields and Haleakala volcanic sunrise in Hawaii, and being from Oregon and seeing the lava fields there, this was underwhelming. I do not recommend going there unless it is in route.
From Craters of the Moon we headed up toward Yellowstone, we tried to get as close to the park as we could without having to pay for a spot (the convenience of having a van). We found a small muddy patch of land in the middle of no where with several campers and vans parked, so that’s where we slept for the night before an early morning in Yellowstone! Our bellies full from soapy tasting ramen (we didn’t rinse our dishes enough the night before) we cozy-ed up with our electric blanket and slept through quite the storm.