Thursday, August 31, 2023

Oodles of Idaho outdoor fun await for Labor Day weekend! Might be a little wet, tho!

Drew Stuebner on a hike with Dad to Bridal Veil Falls in the Sawtooths. 

Hi all,

Labor Day weekend is upon us! It's the typical last hurrah of the camping season, so I'm dishing up some last-minute tips for the three-day weekend, as always. 

Before we get into the camping ideas, Bogus Basin, Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort all have some fun stuff going on this weekend, and the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic at Ann Morrison Park runs daily through Sunday.  

Courtesy Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic
Steve fishing Rainbow Lake in the Trinities 

Now, on to the camping tips and other Labor Day ideas ... mountain weather  BTW looks a bit topsy-turvy Saturday-Monday with a good chance of thundershowers and high temps in the 60s. So make sure you've got a good rain tarp and dress warm! 

Recommended camping options: 
  • Trinity Mountains - Go camping, day-hiking or backpacking in the Trinities. I recommend driving there via Featherville. Head for Big Trinity Lake, the trailhead and general dispersed camping area. It's definitely worth backpacking into the high mountain lakes to get away from the car-campers and enjoy some good fishing!

  • Cascade area - Stolle Meadows and Landmark are my favorite camping areas in this neck of the woods. There are tons of primitive car-camping spots in both locations, east of Cascade, off the Warm Lake Highway. I've heard there may be some construction on the South Fork Salmon River Road? Plus, there are hot springs in the vicinity.
  • Lick Creek area in the Payette National Forest 

  • McCall area - Camping, hiking and backpacking in the Lick Creek area NE of McCall should be fabulous. Some of the nice mountain lakes up there include Box, Snowslide, Duck, Hum, Enos and Thirty-three lakes. Pick up a Payette National Forest map or a McCall Adventure Map to get the details for access. Also, check my blog from earlier this summer on five easy-to-access kid-friendly mountain lakes in the McCall area. 
    Stanley Lake beach 

  • Stanley area - I'm sure the Stanley area will be hopping with lots of campers at Stanley Lake, Redfish Lake, Pettit Lake and points along the Salmon River. 
    North and Middle Forks of the Boise River ... car-camping mecca 
  • Idaho City area - The North and Middle Forks of the Boise River work great for car camping. See my post from last week.  
  • Salmon River beaches - Upstream from Riggins along the Salmon River Road are many sweet spots for camping, hanging out and swimming. 
Salmon River beaches are the best in bare feet! Courtesy Winding Rivers Rafting

Also, Labor Day weekend is chock full of big sales at your favorite outdoor retailers in the Boise area, places like Idaho Mountain Touring, George's CyclesBoise REI, Greenwood's, McU Sports, Alpenglow Mountain Sport and Idaho River Sports. They all have some fantastic clothing and gear on sale right now. Great deals! Go get 'em! 
- SS

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Mountain Music is on the wane! Get out and enjoy the last couple weeks of live music!

Jeff Crosby Band on the dock by Lake Cascade and West Mountain.
(photo courtesy Jeff Crosby Band and Tri-City Vibe)

Hi all, 

I'm in a mountain musical mood today anticipating the Sheryl Crow concert at the Albertson's Open tonight. Boise counts as mountains, right? 

Live music seems like it's always better in the mountains, surrounded by trees, fresh air and cooler temps. 

Starting tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 25), Tamarack Resort is hosting a one-hour VIP show for the Jeff Crosby Band at 4 p.m., and then he plays a plays a free concert at Tamarack Friday night.

The Jeff Crosby Band also plays next Friday, Sept. 1 in the final show of Brundage's TGIF free concert series. It's fitting for him to finish off the season because he normally gets the crowd on its feet with a great mixture of blues, country rock and rock. Last year, I thought he blew the roof off! 

High Pine Whiskey Yell (courtesy

Also on Friday, High Pine Whiskey Yell will be playing at Brundage in their TGIF series concert series. 

As described on the Brundage web site: "This four-piece group of modern-day rounders focuses on telling true stories about robots taking your job, banksters robbing from the poor, the trials of gold panning in Idaho, skiing/riding deep powder, UFOs, and a few other traditional bluegrass subjects (such as murder, drinking, and dogs)."

On Saturday, Bogus Basin will have free music on the patio from 2-5 p.m. with Olivia Frost (left), a singer and guitar player who is based in Boise currently. I took a glance at her Facebook page, and she's been playing all kinds of venues across Southern Idaho in the last year. Wineries, bars, festivals, weddings, you name it.  

Anyway, when you're visiting the ski resorts in the summer, there's all kinds of things to do - from yoga classes, scenic chairlift rides, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, food and beverage, the mountain coaster at Bogus Basin, the zipline at Tamarack and waterfront rentals and activities at Tam. 

Grab some lodging and make a weekend out of it! 
- SS  

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Big weather change coming Sunday; try the Kids Adventure Race on Saturday at Bogus Basin

Kids ride the downhill trails at Bogus Basin, which is hosting a Kids Adventure Race 
on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Bogus Basin)  

Hi all, 

If you're planning to venture into the Idaho outdoors this weekend, aim for Friday and Saturday because there's a big change coming Sunday with a dramatic cool-down and heavy rain in the weather forecast. 

That'll be a big relief for everyone after triple-digit temps in the Treasure Valley this week. 

Mountain weather in McCall,  Stanley and Sun Valley looks pretty promising until Sunday, with afternoon highs in the 80s. There will be a good chance of afternoon thundershowers on Friday and Saturday. 

Since we rarely get much rain in August, this is nice to see! 

The rain Sunday will cause a nice, much-needed cool-down, sending temperatures in Boise into the 80s next week and 70s in the mountains. Those temps are expected to remain in that range through the end of August, according to current forecasts. That would be nice~! 

A dome of High pressure in the Midwest combined with a Low pressure trough off the Pacific Coast are expected to send plumes of moisture from Nevada going north into Idaho by this weekend. That's what is bringing the weather change. About 1.5 inches of rain are forecast, maybe more. Enjoy that cool-down!

In the meantime, I wanted to recommend an event that Bogus Basin is putting on this weekend called the Kids Adventure Race. You need to sign up as a team of two (think adult or teen paired with a kid). There's a non-competitive event for kids aged 2-5, called the "Explore Course," and another "Expeditions Course" for kids aged 6-10.

Rock climbing wall
(Courtesy Bogus Basin)
On the Expeditions course, kids will do basic orienteering, a scavenger hunt, mountain biking, hiking, rock wall climbing and more. The activities will be split up over a 1.2-mile out-and-back course with 370 vertical gain. Estimated time to complete the course is 30 to 60 minutes. This event costs $50/person for a team of two. 

On the Explore course, kids will rotate through adventure stations such as biking (strider or child bike and training wheels OK), scavenger hunt, obstacle course and other challenges. This one costs $30/person for a team of two. 

Online registration is available here.  

I'm impressed with the creativity of Bogus Basin's staff to provide a fun exploration event for young kids on the mountain! I recommend it! 

For more information about the event, contact:

- SS  

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Boom! New wildfire closes Main Salmon River, new creek blowouts block upper Middle Fork Salmon - Here we go again!

Courtesy Lynn Demerse/U.S. Forest Service 

Hi all, 

In the last week, the Elkhorn wildfire blew up and burned over the top of the Allison Ranch on the Main Salmon River, taking out seven buildings including the main lodge, cabins and museum, and the Main Salmon - River of No Return Wilderness section has been closed for three days for safety reasons.

The Main Salmon reopened today, Thursday, Aug. 3, but it could be a day-to-day situation for weeks/months depending on fire behavior and weather. See more information about the Elkhorn Fire on the Forest Service inciweb site. It was burning about 25,000 acres in heavy timber and rugged country in the Salmon River breaks as of Thursday morning. 

On top of all this, a big rainstorm near Boundary Creek and Dagger Falls has caused two, new creek blowouts on the Middle Fork Salmon River, one below the Boundary Creek launch point, and a second one below Velvet Falls Rapids. 

Blowout above the entrance to Velvet Falls, Middle Fork Salmon River. 
(courtesy Aaron Lieberman/IOGA)

So, you might say all hell has broken loose in our beloved Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and two nationally popular wilderness whitewater river trips, the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon. 

If the Forest Service has to close the Main Salmon again, it could cause a real pile up of river floaters on the Lower Salmon River, a place everyone goes when they don't draw a permit on the Main or the Middle Fork. Floaters also are being given the option of carrying over their trips to next year on the same date. 

On the Main, eight parties are poised to launch on the river every day.  

On the Middle Fork, many outfitted groups are flying in their trips to the Indian Creek airstrip 25 miles downriver because the water has dropped to 2.1 feet on the gauge. But it's likely that a number of private boaters were ready to launch at Boundary Creek today, only to learn that the river is blocked in two locations by log jams. The same thing happened on the Middle fork last year in late season.  

Elkhorn Fire perimeter map as of 7 a.m., 8/3/23  

So what to do if you're expecting to launch on the Main Salmon or Middle Fork Salmon? There's a number you can call to clarify your options: 208-756-5587.

"We are getting flooded with phone calls, that's for sure," officials manning that phone said today.  

If you do launch your trip on the Main Salmon, Forest Service officials say, "There will be no stopping or camping on either side of the river from Sunny Bar (River Mile 22.6) to Campbells Ferry (River Mile 42.5).  You will be floating through an active fire area and will encounter very smoky conditions. Please be on the lookout for falling rocks, logs and other debris.  Please exercise caution when floating through the fire area. 

"If you do choose to launch, please do not impede any firefighting operations including moving out of the way of jetboats carrying firefighting personnel when possible, following instructions from Forest Service personnel, and plan to pass through the no stopping, no camping section of the river as early in the day as possible. As your group passes through the fire area, stay together as a group with all boats in the party staying within close proximity to each other."

If you're planning to launch on the Middle Fork, you'll need to fly your group into Indian Creek to avoid the log jams in the upper portion of the river. 

Back to the Main Salmon ... the only issue with not stopping in that 15- to 20-mile section that's restricted due to the Elkhorn fire, is it's chock full of the biggest rapids on the whole trip, namely Big Mallard and Elkhorn, both Class 4 rapids, and 5 Mile rapids, a Class 3+ drop with a big hole on the right, and Split Rock Rapids, a big Class 3. The visibility may be bad when you're trying to negotiate these drops, so if you're not familiar with these rapids, that could be a reason to wait for next year. 

People going with outfitters will be going with experienced river guides who are running those rapids every week, so they will know the safe way through, even if the visibility is bad. 

I'd encourage floaters to visit with their groups and make a quick, informed decision on what to do. 

Be aware that ultimately, you will be on your own, and you'll be responsible for your own safety. Bring a satellite phone and an Garmin InReach GPS so you can communicate with the outside world. 

These are world-class once-in-a-lifetime river trips. If you have the flexibility to roll your permit date to next year, it might be best to postpone your trip and see the Main Salmon in all of its glory in bluebird, non-smoky, non-hazardous conditions next summer.  

- SS