Idaho – Craters – Falls – Fireworks – Gardens

Alternative Routes 

Leaving the Tetons with a date to spend July 4th weekend with Martha and Doug (Lane) Peterson in McCall, Idaho, we had only a couple of days to explore Southern Idaho. The Snake River Canyon and Shoshone Falls at Twin Falls was our planned stopover. As usual, we ignored our van’s GPS ‘fastest route’ and went for a longer, more interesting journey. We climbed out of Jackson Hole through the Teton Pass and dropped down to a cross country route through part of Idaho’s ‘High Desert’. We met a couple of surprises on the way. The route was straight and deserted for many miles until we started to see signs for ‘INL’ and ‘EBR1’. Our map was no help but we did notice a signpost to ‘Atomic City’ just to our left and a lot of power lines going towards ‘INL’ on our right. We pulled in to the ‘EBR1’ National Historical Landmark not knowing what to expect. It turned out to be the site of America’s first installation to produce electricity from Atomic Energy, known as Experimental Breeder Reactor 1. We had a fascinating tour of the installation, learning how this research installation first produced 200KW of electrical power in 1951. It is now a part of the Idaho National Laboratory – ‘INL’ (previously Argonne National Labs, which I would have recognized).
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Not far down the road, we took a side trip to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and were Nature taking overfascinated by the unusual black rocky landscape and the extent of the remains of over 60 solidified lava flows and 25 volcanic cones, most recently active only 2,000 years ago. It was very interesting to see how the area was gradually turning back to nature with trees and vegetation seeming to sprout out of the rocky areas. There is a campground there but Cheryl was a bit spooked by the odd-looking black rocky campsites so we traveled on to Twin Falls.
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Twin Falls 

By far the most dramatic feature in Twin Falls is the Snake River Canyon that threads its way through the center of town with many accessible walking trails. At the head of this section, east of town, are the Shoshone Falls. The falls are 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls, flow is now restricted by the Idaho Power’s Shoshone Falls Dam. At its full flow, water spills over the whole horseshoe rock cliff. At reduced flows (see photos below and movie at the bottom) the flow splits into several waterfalls. In addition to generating power at the dam, water is also diverted upstream to irrigate ‘Magic Valley’.
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  • Twin Falls

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    Shoshone Falls, Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, ID

  • McCall, Idaho July 4th 

    Following our usual practice, instead of the quickest route via Boise, we took a longer route to McCall, traveling North to Ketchum (near Sun Valley), North-West to Stanley and then followed the South Fork of the Payette River, a popular rafting area, to join the Boise-McCall road at Banks. We were rewarded with some magnificent mountain and valley scenery as we passed through the Sawtooth and Boise National Forests. We enjoyed our stay in McCall, watching fireworks over the lake on the 4th, and visiting ‘Charlie’s Garden’ (see next section below).
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    Charlie’s Garden

    Our friend Martha gave us a real treat by taking us to see ‘Charlie’s Garden’ in McCall, a beautifully designed hillside garden by the lake just outside McCall. It took a while to find it, a very well kept secret now that the sign is no longer visible. Created by the famous landscape designer and plantsman, Charlie Davidson, it is maintained by his heirs and is ‘a quiet, tranquil perennial paradise in the mountains of Idaho’. As Colin wasn’t ‘carrying’ that morning, the pictures are all from Cheryl’s iPhone. Before taking off for Oregon the next morning, we returned to Boise on the 5th and met the rest of the family, including grandson Harrison.
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  • McCall, Idaho

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    McCall, Idaho

  • Shoshone Falls Movie

    2 Comments on “Idaho – Craters – Falls – Fireworks – Gardens

    1. Breathtakingly beautiful! We’re getting to see things throughyour travelog that we wouldn’t even know existed! Thanks!
      From Cheryl: So glad you are enjoying the blog and pictures. We love having you on this journey with us.

    2. Judging by the route described in your post, you must have passed through the town of Arco, ID. When I was in that area after the Teton Dam collapse in 1976, I was told that Arco was the first city in the world to be lighted by atomic power. I also got one of the best steaks I’ve ever had there and enjoyed the same spectacular scenery you all saw on the drive from Idaho Falls.
      From Cheryl: So glad to see you reading the blog and adding to the background information about Arco. How wonderful that you enjoyed the best steak ever, and that you were able to see the atomic power in use. Since you were with FEMA, you must have seen a lot of firsts. Thanks for sharing.

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