Camping in the Idaho Wilds

In mid-July, David, Eric and I stole away to the Idaho wilderness for a weekend camping trip. I started asking David exactly where we were, and he provided me with this ‘you are here’ visual, compliments of Google maps:


We’re camped at the pink dot. That dark drippy looking blob in the lower right corner is the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Above that you see the town of Arco. Thirty miles northwest of Arco is Mackay, Idaho. 15 miles beyond Mackay, you turn left onto Trail Creek Road, and drive about 15 miles. That’s where we’re camped. You can continue down Trail Creek Road another 30 miles through the mountains over to Ketchum, Idaho.

Friday, 6 PM -July 11 – Our 1973 Bell camper is packed and ready to go!


(Aren’t you just seething with envy? – have I shown you the interior?)

David, Eric and I hit the road in David’s truck pulling the trailer. An hour later we pass through Arco – where we meet the Lost River Range. I snap a photo out the right back seat window:


The mountains grow in magnificence as we approach Mackay.


The highest peak of the Lost River Range, Mount Borah, comes into view:


We pull next to Ken’s Club in Mackay about 7:30 PM and grab dinner. Just before 9 PM, we’ve turned onto Trail Creek Road – the first 8 miles are paved. I took a couple of photos:



We arrive at Garden Creek campsite before dark. It’s the weekend of the full moon, but the sky is cloudy and spitting rain. We don’t even bother with a campfire before turning in for the night.

First order of business Saturday morning: Brew up boiling water and ground coffee in our French press. Eric has just crawled out of his, uh,


‘Tent-cot’ – I think is what it’s called, – he’s downsized a tad from the pickup with extended camper rig he camped in last time.

Oh, and I see Eric’s wearing his “Godzilla Kitty attacks NYC” t-shirt.

We are keen for a hike, but not a death march (of which we have to constantly remind Eric). Eric directs us to a trailhead a few miles from camp. We’ve already hiked a mile before we reach this sign:


Where a discussion ensues.


It seriously won’t break my heart if I don’t hike eleven more miles to “Betty Lake” and back, or to “Surprise Vally” (for real? Seriously. That’s creepy. What sort of surprise awaits you in ‘Surprise Vally?’).

“No, Eric, we won’t have to come back and do it because we didn’t do it today. Which, we’re NOT doing it today…”

“How about you take our photo with that marvelous peak (that we don’t have to claw our way to the top of) in the background!”


We’re hiking back out now…


and boiling hot by the time we hike the one mile back to the truck. It’s strange how even a hill can make us feel so small.


We decide to drive Trail Creek Road all the way to Ketchum (uh, let’s see – sit and boil at the campsite, melt on another hike, or spend the rest of the afternoon in air conditioning…) I shot a few photos of the scenery along the way:




We arrive in Ketchum just before 6 PM – so of course, we get dinner. At the Pioneer Saloon on Main Street. Steak Kabobs, fresh salad, baked potato … just the kind of camping dinner I love!

Drove the 30 miles, mostly dirt road, back to the campsite. Built a big honking campfire.

Sunday, after breakfast, we hike a short trail to the Big Lost River to fish. Not fly fishing, mind you. Fishing grosses me out. At least the “worming the hook” part, demonstrated here by Eric.


They don’t feel a thing, right? The worm is SCREAMING as the total length of his body is gored to the hook. Could you hear a worm scream? Yeah, well have you ever really listened?

(By the way, although it may look like worm guts on Eric’s hands, it’s actually furniture stain, as he refinishes antiques as part of his Antique Business – just wanted to clear that up!)

Eric and David caught about 10 trout, rainbows and cutthroats.


Threw them all back.

We packed up camp about 2 PM Sunday and headed for home.


Driving back on Trail Creek Road toward Highway 93 now. The Lost River Range is sprawled out in front of us in brilliant splendor.




We’re on highway 93 now, near Mackay:


We arrive back in our driveway about 6 PM – about 48 hours after we pulled out. That’s just about as much camping as I can handle, as long as it includes dinners eaten out at restaurants.

Oh, did I mention that we discovered a plumbing leak in the camper as soon as we turned on the kitchen faucet at the campsite? Yeah. So we basically didn’t run water in the camper. Luckily we brought along a few extra jugs. So when we got home David had to find the leak and fix the plumbing. Oh, and before we went camping we had to buy and install a new battery, new fuse, new interior light bulb, and new locking valve for the water tank.

But hey, it looked mighty fine by the time we hauled it back into storage. I took photos – you DO want to see the interior, don’t you? (Eat your heart out.) Here’s the tour:

The breakfast nook. (the original blue flowered upholstery!):


The kitchen (double sinks!)


the stove and fridge (uses block ice!)


And the bench (dig that lime green!)


As David backed the camper into it’s costly covered storage space (and I directed) I noticed one tail light was out. Oh well. No worry. The last time we took this thing out was three summers ago. (I actually blogged about it.) At that rate of use, this camper should be around for generations to come. Our kids will be ever so thrilled!

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2 Responses to “Camping in the Idaho Wilds”

  1. iowachick Says:

    Jody, I am still laughing at the photo of Eric in the am. He is sOOOOOO photogenic. Really enjoyed the blog. Made my day. Passed it onto Margaret and Ed and Julie and Dennis.

  2. Jody Caraher Says:

    Thanks Paullene. You and Margaret and Ed and Julie and Dennis should all come out here and we’ll go camping, Caraher style. I prefer camping behind a lodge so we can eat every meal out. Our camper actually sleeps 5! Well, might want to pack a few extra cot tents for good measure. Eric is pretty wily, but with five of us hammering him we might could sufficiently distract him from leading us on a death march.

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