Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gonna have to be creative for Memorial Day weekend

Morel mushrooms - Yum!

Find a hot springs pool to keep you warm ...
Hi all,

It's pretty depressing looking at the weather forecast for Memorial Day weekend in Idaho ... it's supposed to be either raining or snowing pretty much everywhere. Dang!

So, here are a few ideas to make your weekend more enjoyable:
  • Hot Springs - If it's going to be wet, you might as well hunker down in one of Idaho's many non-commercial hot springs or visit a commercial hot springs establishment such as Givens Hot Springs near Marsing, Silver Creek Plunge near Crouch, or Gold Fork Hot Springs near Donnelly.
  • Raft in the Rain - If you're going to go river rafting, you're going to get wet anyway, so you might as well go rafting in the rain. One of the best sections for that is the Upper Payette River from Bonneville Hot Springs to Kirkham Hot Springs. Warm up before you go in Bonneville, and warm up after the trip is over in Kirkham. Rain is forecast for the big Memorial Day gathering on the mighty Lochsa River, where the river is running at 7.5+ feet, so that's another place you can raft in the rain. Warm up in Jerry Johnson Hot Springs or Weir Creek Hot Springs after the float trip. (There might be a few hundred people with the same idea).
  • Party under the Tarp - I have a feeling that lots of people will be doing some variation of this, this weekend. Make sure your tarp doesn't leak, bring plenty of beverages to keep the gang occupied, and dress warm. Look for camping areas in lower elevation areas in the Boise National Forest. The Rabbit Creek Road from Idaho City to numerous car-camping areas along the North Fork of the Boise River is open. The Edna Creek road to Atlanta is closed.
  • Go Road Biking in the Rain - As long as you dress for it, road biking in the rain can be tolerable, especially if you have fenders to keep the water from spraying into your face from the front wheel. Check out my Boise Road Cycling Guide for tips on where to go. One ride that'd be fun would be to tackle the Snake River Canyon Scenic Loop between Marsing and Walter's Ferry.
  • Go Mushroom Hunting - I've heard that morel mushrooms are sprouting in the Idaho City area. I checked with the Idaho City Ranger District, and the people in the office had no idea where mushrooms are being found. But I had one report from a friend that he picked 3 pounds of morels earlier this week.
  • Head South to Warmer Weather - In looking for good weather, I noticed that the forecast for St. George, Utah, is 88 degrees this weekend, and 80 degrees in Moab, Utah. It's a long drive, but maybe it's worth it!
  • Rent a Cabin and Stay Cozy - It's probably too late to reserve a Forest Service cabin or a Parks and Recreation yurt this weekend, but you might be able to find a good last-minute deal on a cabin in Garden Valley, McCall or Ketchum on That's where we list our McCall cabin (sorry, it's taken this weekend), and lots of people find cool and affordable places to stay on
  • Look for last-minute deals on hotel rooms - has a great selection in the McCall and Ketchum/Sun Valley areas.
BTW, here is a roundup of national forest and BLM trail, road and camping conditions that you may find useful.

Hope you find a way to have some fun despite the crappy weather!

- SS

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Try Succor Creek State Park for hiking, camping and exploring, near Homedale, Idaho

Drew Stuebner, 12, on top of the rim above Succor Creek State Park

Drew and Dad head back to the park

Steve and Drew

Wendy checks out the slot canyon

Slot canyon from below

Succor Creek was bank-full

There are lots of caves to explore in the rocks

Drew found a mysterious bone ...

Rhyolite spires punctuate the view

Downriver view of Succor Creek

The view approaching the park ...
Hi all,

I'm doing research for a new guidebook on the Owyhee Canyonlands this spring, summer and fall, so you will see occasional blog posts about my trips. Last Sunday, I took my son Drew and Wendy out to Succor Creek State Park, a natural area about 30 minutes from Homedale, Idaho.

The park is very scenic. It has hiking opportunities, caves to explore, campsites, a rest room and picnic areas. The area appears to be popular with off-highway vehicles as well. Camping is free, but it's a self-support situation. Bring your own water, food and supplies.

Succor Creek State Park lies in the bottom of an incised canyon, surrounded by cool rock features left over from rhyiolite and basalt lava flows that occurred many millions of years ago. There aren't many official trails in the area, but cross-country hiking is a great way to explore it. Kids will enjoy the caves, in particular, and playing around by the creek.

Directions: Take I-84 to the Idaho 55/Karcher Road exit (last Nampa exit). Go west on ID 55 to Chicken Dinner Road (before the big curve to the left and Sunnyslope wineries). Turn right and go one mile to Homedale Road. Turn left and drive through Homedale. Take Idaho Highway 19 six miles to a signed left-hand turnoff for Succor Creek Road. You'll see a sign for Succor Creek State Park. Go 16 miles on the dirt road to the state park natural area.

We started our outing with a casual walk along Succor Creek, which is raging right now! Snowpack levels were 178 percent of normal in the Owyhee Mountains this year, so there is plenty of water out there, that's for sure. We walked a half mile downstream before we got cliffed out and had to turn around.

Near the pedestrian bridge that goes across the creek in the campground, there is a small slot canyon you can explore. Because my younger son, Drew, isn't that skilled in scaling a slot canyon, we walked up a jeep trail a short ways up the hill, and then walked cross-country to the rim that lords above the campground. We could peer into the slot canyon and walk along the top of the rim as far as we wished. Up on top, you could climb much higher if you wanted to get a huge view of the Owyhee Mountains.

We saw at least 10 different caves that one could explore. A very large cave lies next to Succor Creek Road. It has a big dirt floor and there were some small animal bones and such that we found inside.

It also would be interesting to explore Antelope Springs Road by mountain bike. This is a dirt road that takes off up the hill from the state park natural area. Maps show that the road goes all the way back to Homedale. Maybe there's a loop that can be done?

If you go south of Succor Creek State Park, the Succor Creek Road connects to Leslie Gulch, Three Fingers Rock and some other areas worth exploring. Here's a video from one motorist. So, it's possible to camp one night at Succor Creek, camp the next night in Leslie Gulch, etc. The only catch is that Succor Creek is a dirt road, so be sure to watch the weather for wet weather. You could get stuck out there.


Steve shares his weekly outdoor tips with Ken and Tim on 94.9 FM The River each Friday morning at approximately 7:10 a.m. If you miss the program, you can hear the segments on River