Thursday, March 22, 2012

Here's a hodge-podge of Idaho outdoorsy things to do this weekend or on spring break

Bruneau Dunes State Park
Great views when hiking in Succor Creek State Park
Leslie Gulch has many unique rock formations
Pruitt's Castle on the Lower Owyhee River
Big white sandy beaches on the Salmon River
Hells Canyon!
A Cooper's hawk
Hikers, runners and mountain bikers were everywhere in the Boise Foothills Thursday evening.

Hi all,

Oh. my. word. Suddenly the weather shifts to the dry and warm side in the Boise Valley for two days, and the trails are trying out rapidly in the Boise Foothills. You can bet the same thing is occurring in the Snake River canyon and the Owyhee foothills.

Wendy and I took our puppy "Huck" on the Kestrel-Red Cliffs loop in the Boise Foothills on Thursday evening, and the trails on the 5-mile loop were bone dry. We loved feeling the warm sunshine on our faces, hiking comfortably in shorts, and seeing all of the hawks and songbirds. We saw a pair of Cooper's hawks, kestrels, bunched-up robins migrating through, the sweet call of meadowlarks, and many other birds flying around. Spring is here! Yay!

The weather is looking fabulous this weekend, with temperatures pushing into the low 70s. It was in the low 60s today (Thursday), and it felt like 80. That will open up the possibilities for lots of things.

Here are some Idaho staycation suggestions for the weekend and Spring Break:

  • Outdoor multitasking mania - It's that time of year when you can sneak in a little spring skiing in the morning at Bogus Basin, and then go play golf, tennis, road biking, mountain biking, or kayaking/rafting on the Payette River in the afternoon. You could probably work in more activities than that if you're creative. See my previous blog on the topic.
  • Camping in the desert. With temperatures warming up quickly, it should be safe to go camping in the Snake River canyon below Swan Falls Dam, at Succor Creek State Park, Leslie Gulch or on BLM lands on the front side of the Owyhees. A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is recommended, because there is still a chance of rain in the forecast. You just never know this time of year.
  • Go camping at a developed campground in the desert. If you'd like to pick a sure thing, head for Bruneau Dunes State Park and hike around on big sand dunes. It's a great spot for families and kids. You won't get stuck on muddy dirt roads here ... the park roads are all paved.
  • Spring beach camping on the Salmon River. Maybe you didn't plan a trip to Mexico or Bora Bora this year. But you can still sift sand through your toes on the banks of the Salmon River, 10 miles upstream of Riggins or more, there are many beaches to consider for camping. Do a little day trip rafting, kayaking, steelhead fishing or hiking on the Wind River Trail.
  • Spring hiking, camping or backpacking in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area via Pittsburg Landing, near Whitebird. See my previous blog about this trip. Hells Canyon is usually the warmest spot in Idaho.
  • Float the Owyhee River. The Owyhee was flowing only 1,200 cfs as of Thursday evening, but this warm weather will bring it up some more. I bet there will be some early-birds launching on the Lower Owyhee River tomorrow or Saturday. See my previous blog on this topic.
  • Go corn skiing in the backcountry. Go early before the snow gets too sloppy. Banner Ridge, Pilot Peak, Sunset Mountain, Copper Mountain and Stargaze yurt are all good locations for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Bring plenty of sunscreen!
  • Float the Payette River. The North Fork of the Payette River was cranking Thursday afternoon (we had a good glimpse on the way back from McCall) at 1,700 cfs, and the Main Payette was runnign at 3,400 cfs. There will be some early birds floating Cabarton in the snow, and a bunch of rafters and kayakers on the Main Payette. Spring boating is happening.
  • Go steelhead fishing on the upper Salmon River between Corn Creek and Stanley. There are only a few weeks left in the season, and the fish are moving upstream to spawn. The nice weather should make for especially nice conditions for steelhead fishing. Check the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association web site for a guide, if you need one.
Hopefully those ideas will inspire a little adventure!
- SS