Thursday, August 26, 2021

Multiple events going on this weekend in the mountains! Sawtooth Festival, Bogus, Brundage, Tamarack all dishing up fun activities!

Chinook salmon (courtesy IDFG)

Hi all, 

The Western Idaho State Fair is in full swing, kids are back in school, and the weather has been fantastic -- the best all summer! -- to go hiking, biking, trail-running, camping or exploring in the mountains! 

For my outdoor tip this week, I'm highlighting a number of events going on at Bogus, Brundage and Tamarack, the Sawtooth Festival in Stanley, and the Gallery 55 Art in the Courtyard event in McCall, where my son Drew will be showing his latest acrylic paintings Friday-Sunday.  

The smoke is supposed to clear by Friday, making for a gorgeous weekend! High temperatures in the 70s are forecast in the mountains! Chilly at night! 

The summer season is winding down at your favorite ski areas, but there are a couple of weekends left to enjoy lift-served service and musical events.

  • The Sawtooth Festival is held each year in Stanley during the spawning season. The event is being held at the Stanley Museum on Highway 75 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Congressman Mike Simpson will be there to talk about his plan to save salmon in the Northwest. Muzzie Braun will be playing at 3 p.m. Salmon spawning tours will be provided by bus. If your kids haven't seen salmon spawning for real, it's something they'll never forget!

  • Bogus Basin will host the Boise Contemporary Theater on Saturday night, and a unique Global Farmer's Market on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Yoga on the mountain in the morning. There's a guided nature hike on Sunday at 2 p.m. Plus, there's the usual assortment of things to do at Bogus from lift-served hiking and biking, to the Mountain Coaster, downhill tubing and more. See the Bogus events page for more information. Last music concert is Sept. 4 with the Boise Rock School. Bogus is operating full services Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    Nature hike at Bogus Basin happening on Sunday at 2 p.m.

  • Brundage Mountain is hosting their last TGIF concert Friday with High Pine Whiskey Yell. Jeff Crosby will cap off the live music season on Sept. 3. General hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Brundage has a new mountain bike trail called "Rock Garden" to try out up by the summit! Looks amazing! They're operating Wednesday-Sunday through Labor Day weekend, closing Sept. 6 for the summer season. Check out this video of Rock Garden.

    Yoga on the mountain (courtesy Tamarack Resort)

  • Tamarack Resort is operating 7 days a week, offering lift-served hiking and biking, zipline adventures, waterfront activities and more. They've got yoga on the mountain in the morning, and live music Saturday afternoon from 4-6 p.m. with Chicago Boise Express. 
  • Boise Goathead Fest - And of course we can must mention the Boise Goathead Fest at Cecil Andrus Park on Saturday. If you stay in town, you must go! Registration starts at 10 a.m., pedal-powered parade at 11 a.m., and then Goathead Fest follows at 11:30 a.m. See the full schedule here

Come see our booth at the Gallery 55 art show in McCall if you're in the hood! It opens Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. and runs through 7 p.m., then 10 am - 6 pm on Saturday and 10 am - 4 pm on Sunday.  You can preview Drew's art work at We will be selling original acrylic paintings, limited edition prints and note cards.  

Go for hike or a bike ride in the McCall area and take a stroll through the Art in the Courtyard art show ... similar to Art in the Park in Boise ...  more than 35 artists are being featured in the show. We will be at booth #34 in the Legacy Park area, near Salmon River Brewery and Gravity Sports. 

Hope to see you there!

- SS

These are a few of Drew's latest acrylic paintings that will be on display.

Bear and Frog 

Polar bear and puffin 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Please take extra garbage bags with you on your next Idaho outdoor adventure - Recreate Responsibly Idaho!

Abandoned camp and trash in the Boise National Forest (USFS photo)

Hi all, 

I have been working on the Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign this year and last, and I wanted to share the story I wrote for the Idaho Press in the Outdoors section this week about the RRI 2.0 campaign. 

Here's the web link to the article, and I'll run excerpts from the story below: 

"This year, the consortium of state and federal agencies in Idaho that work on the Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign last year pivoted to an urgent need to inform and educate recreationists of all kinds about being good land stewards – remembering to pack out trash, properly dispose of human waste, do your homework on where you’re planning to go before you leave home, be smart about fire safety, and more. 

This situation is apparently fairly typical. (courtesy BLM)

"For 2021, we called it the Recreate Responsibly Idaho 2.0 campaign. We decided that we’d mainly try to get the word out via weekly or twice-weekly social media posts to be shared by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Fish and Game, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Department of Lands, the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission, and the Idaho Department of Commerce.   

Generally, public use is increasing, based on what we know so far. 

“It looks like we’re going to smash our record year,” said Craig Quintana, spokesman for IDPR. The State Parks had a record 7.7 million visits last year. As of June in 2021, park visits were up by 600,000 people.

"On a national level, the U.S. government is seeing public use in 2021 out-pace 2020 at national parks, in national forests and on BLM lands.

"As for tourism visits, the Idaho Department of Commerce’s VisitIdaho campaign seems to be attracting more visitors to the state, based on July 2021 numbers, said Matt Borud, marketing and innovation administrator. July lodging numbers in Idaho, for example, show a 98 percent increase over July 2020 and a 38 percent increase over July 2019, Borud said.

Courtesy USFS

"Last year, the public agencies saw a disturbing increase in people leaving garbage strewn about at dispersed camp sites on BLM and Forest Service lands, trash being left inside fire rings, trash stuffed into restroom facilities. Perhaps you’ve seen some of the pics.  

"A similar trend is occurring this year, officials said. There also are problems with people failing to dispose of human waste properly, potentially causing an increase in E-coli in adjacent streams, ATV or UTV riders scaling steep hillsides and leaving ruts in their wake, causing erosion issues, and ATV or UTV riders roaming the backcountry in search of a destination, sometimes driving up ranchers’ or landowners’ driveways, thinking they’re a public road.

Similar issues are being seen in other western states.

The state of Idaho is putting more resources into paid media than other states, Borud said. “Seems like we’re a little ahead of the curve, compared to some of the other western states,” he said. “I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of emphasis on being a good steward of the land in the next couple of years.” 

Because of the drought and water shortages in 2021, Idaho agencies are also extremely concerned about fire danger, as 80 percent of wildfires are caused by humans each year. That could be from things like leaving fires unattended, not putting out campfires entirely, not disposing of cigarettes in a safe manner, sparks from shooting, things like that.  

Fortunately, there hasn’t been a huge uptick in forest or range fires in Idaho so far this year, so maybe the fire safety message has been working.

Other issues that the RRI 2.0 campaign has been emphasizing include:

  • Pack it in, pack it out. That means your garbage and anything else you brought with you on your outdoor outing. Bring extra garbage bags and rubber gloves in case you encounter a mess somewhere. 

  • Bring a portable toilet on your camping adventure, if you have one, bring a shovel for digging a proper cat hole, or bring Wag Bags, which are made specifically for receiving and packing out poop.
  • Being courteous on boat ramps, launch your boat quickly and move out so the next group can access the ramp.
  • ATV, UTV and motorbike safety for young riders (helmets are required for youths under the age of 18) and experienced riders.
  • No fireworks allowed on public lands.
  • Having a more than one destination in mind when you head outdoors in Idaho … the campgrounds and lodging properties are super busy and mostly full. So have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D in mind before you go. You may not get your first choice.
  • Being civil on the trails with other users and practice good trail etiquette … such as the “Happy Trails” campaign in the Boise Foothills.
  • “Mind your wake” when wake-boarding on Idaho’s lakes … keeping in mind that other boaters and non-motorized users may not like getting tossed around by large wakes and knowing that the large wakes cause erosion on the lakeshore.
  • ·Life jacket safety
Steve Stuebner has been part of the Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign in both 2020 and 2021. For more information, go to Thanks to the Idaho Press for sharing information about the RRI 2.0 campaign.




Thursday, August 12, 2021

Plan a fall trip to Priest Lake, and go camping, boating, SUP'ing, fishing, biking or hiking!

Riding the shady Lakeshore Trail on a warm summer day at Priest Lake. 

Hi all, 

It's no secret that Priest Lake is one of Idaho's crown jewels, nestled in the Idaho Panhandle. A recent trip to Priest Lake reminded me what a truly special place it is! For one thing, it's a BIG lake! Almost 20 miles long and 4.4 miles wide, with lots of coves and bays. Just a gorgeous place to be.

I went swimming, mountain biking and fishing on this particular trip, which was mainly a work trip. The boating is fantastic on the lake, and a newly deepened Thorofare channel provides clear and easy access for SUPs, kayaks, canoes and power boats to Upper Priest Lake.

The Thorofare Channel provides an intimate experience on the way to Upper Priest Lake.

But my oh my, Priest Lake has definitely been discovered! I couldn't believe how booked all of the lodging properties were at Priest Lake when I inquired in mid-June about 2 nights in late July. Nothing. Zilch. Everything was booked solid through Labor Day weekend. 

This September or October would be a great time to plan a road trip to Priest Lake. Try to reserve a spot at Beaver Creek Campground, book a spot at one of the State Park units on the east side of the lake, or reserve a cabin/room at Hill's Resort or Elkin's Resort. Beaver Creek CG provides excellent access to the Thorofare channel, as does the Lionhead unit of Priest Lake State Park. However, it looks like only on the Indian Creek unit of the park will be open this fall because of road construction.

Some things I'd recommend doing while you're visiting Priest Lake: 

  • Go mountain biking on the Lake Shore Trail. It's a 7-mile intermediate ride along the west shoreline of Priest Lake to the northern end of the lake. The singletrack trail winds through the dark shadowy cedar forests above the lakeshore and then drops down to the lake, where you can take a swim, and then climbs again into the trees. The trail is pretty smooth with some roots and rocks. Super fun! 
  • At the end of the Lake Shore Trail, you can keep going on the Priest Lake Navigation Trail, a singletrack which continues in a northerly direction and connects to Upper Priest Lake. The Navigation trail runs for about 5 miles to a dead-end at Upper Priest. Turn around, and retrace your tracks to the trailhead. Take your time and enjoy it! It's just so unusual to be able to ride along the shore of a beautiful lake, without it being a suffer fest like so many other Idaho mountain trails!
    The newly deepened Thorofare channel is popular with all kinds of boaters.

  • Paddle or SUP the Thorofare to Upper Priest Lake. It's only about 2.5 miles to the upper lake.  
A kayaker comes equipped to go fishing at the tip of the new Breakwater feature.

Priest Lake Flickr page shows the Breakwater feature prior to the lake refilling this spring.
  • Go boating on Priest Lake. For folks who have their own power boat or sail boat, it's a big lake to explore! With 80 miles of shoreline, the lake also has many sandy beach type areas where you can pull up, hang out and go swimming or whatever.  
    Craig Hill of Hill's Resort tows a waterskier on an early morning sheet of glass on Priest Lake.

  • Stay at Hill's Resort or Elkin's Resorts and live it up a little! Both provide comfortable lodging,  outdoor dining and boat access to the lake. Hill's also has golf. 
  • Bring your fishing pole. Priest Lake has a mix of warm water and cold water fish species that you can catch including cutthroat trout, small mouth bass and lake trout. Thanks to IDFG for the information. 
    Upper Priest River Trail (courtesy Dave 'n Kathy's Vagabond Blog)

  • Hike or bike the Upper Priest River Trail - This is a 16-mile out-and-back trip or 20 miles total to a natural waterfall and pool at the Canadian border. The Upper Priest River Trail is also the northern-most section of the Idaho Centennial Trail. It's a super cool hike/ride through cedars and rotting old-growth trees on the ground that have blondish lichens growing on them. Sometimes I thought I was seeing a grizzly out of the corner of my eye when I rode that trail. 
That ought to keep you busy for a while! Have fun!
- SS

Thursday, August 5, 2021

8-mile hike to Grinnell Glacier in Glacier NP is a real world-class treat!

Many Glacier Lodge is quite the classic place to stay!

Hi all, 

I had to take a business trip to Priest Lake last week, and since I was way up in the northern tip of the state, I checked with my dear friends, Don and Sue Lewis, old room-mates from the U of Montana, to see if they might be open to a visit at their beautiful home in Whitefish, MT. And lucky for me, they invited me to come. 

Whitefish is about a 3.5-hour drive from Sandpoint, so that was a piece of cake. Don and I used to do a ton of skiing, backpacking, peak-bagging, river trips, biking trips and all kinds of camping in college. And you know what? He hasn't changed a bit, and neither have I!!! Ha! 

Balcony view from the Many Glacier Lodge. Just a light smoky haze.

So Don being Don, he dished up an awesome itinerary for a couple days of non-stop fun! We did a 25-mile bike ride last Thursday from the top of the Blacktail Ski Area to one of his favorite brew pubs in Kalispell. They call it Foys to Blacktail on the mountain bike sites, riding from town up to the ski hill, which would be a REALLY tough ride. We rode it from the top to the bottom, but the middle part of the ride scaled up and down a very long high-elevation ridge, which reminded me of the Bear Pete Trail in McCall. You'd need to do that Blacktail to Foys ride with a local to make sure you don't get lost, but I'd highly recommend it ... took us about 4 hours or so to complete the ride with Don's friend, Dow, and his daughter, Emily. Big fun! 

Map courtesy National Park Service.

On Day 2, we did a major day trip to the east side of Glacier National Park to hike the Grinnell Glacier Trail in the Many Glacier area. It's a gorgeous hike, and I'd highly recommend it! Just know that you'll be hiking with lots of other folks unless you do the hike in the off-season. The hike was about 8 miles round-trip, featuring a steady climb of 2,500 vertical feet on a very well-maintained hiking trail to a great lunch spot next to Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Glacier Lake. 

Boat shuttle is a great way to cut off a few miles of the hike. 

We took the boat shuttle from Many Glacier Lodge across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to shave three miles off the hike. Highly recommend the boat ride. Very scenic and beautiful. 

Don reserved the 11 a.m. boat ride for us in advance. Because of bear activity, the trail to lower Grinnell Lake was closed, as was the trail to Redrock Lake. So that focused most of the humans on the Grinnell Glacier Trail. 

We packed bear spray with us, but it was hard to get too concerned about grizzly bears with that many people on the trail! There was a steady stream of people coming down the trail while we hiked up to the glacier. It's a gorgeous trail with sweet views in all directions along the way. I often marveled at the bright emerald-green Grinnell Lake shining in the afternoon sunshine as I walked up and down the trail. I was mainly looking for a griz down there, but never saw one.

Sue Lewis enjoys the cool shower provided by a waterfall on the trail.

About half way to the glacier, there was a great waterfall pouring over the top of the trail. It felt super cool to get a shower of cold water in the heat of the afternoon.

The trail is very well-engineered, climbing along the right wall of the canyon at a very consistent uphill pitch until you top over the ridge to Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake. Just being next to the mostly frozen lake brought a chill to my spine. And I was ready to eat my lunch!

Bighorn ram did not let the tourists get in the way of his afternoon snacks.

As we were walking over to find a place to sit down for lunch, a giant bighorn ram came by me while it was grazing on some leavy bushes in the area. That ram had no fear of humans; it was amazingly aloof! I must have been only 2-3 feet from him at one point ... he brought his head up, with his giant rack, and looked at me with its big yellow eyes. I did not take a picture at that point, or he might have lowered his head and charged, sending me flying! I backed up a bit to keep a safe distance and marveled at that guy's regal beauty! Nothing like tons of tourists to turn a bighorn ram into a savvy streetwise critter that doesn't let the people get in the way of his afternoon meal. 

Grinnell Lake.

It took us something like 4.5 hours to do the hike, and then we returned to Lake Josephine to catch our evening boat shuttle back to the Many Glacier Hotel at 5:15. We had some time to burn, so we took a swim in the cold waters of Josephine Lake and sat in single file to form a line of sorts for the evening boat shuttle. There were at least 100 people waiting. The first boat filled up pretty quick, and we were lucky to jump aboard the second boat. 

A welcome sight ... the shuttle boat comes to pick up tired and dusty hikers at the end of the day.

And then we drove back to Whitefish via the Going to the Sun Highway. A road construction project left us stuck on the park exit road from Many Glacier Lodge for almost 45 minutes, so that sucked. Luckily, Don had packed a cooler of beers for us to sip on our way home. We finally got back to their place in Whitefish at about 10 p.m.; we left at 5:30 a.m. Big day! All worth it for sure! 

A trip to Many Glacier in the slack season in the fall might be just the ticket!
- SS