Idaho and Montana

Salmon River

Big Sky Country,
Big Space Country.

Continuing the exploration of this great country of ours, GB Magazine publishers Danitza and Esteban Villanueva set out to explore the rugged mountains and pristine valleys of the Northern Rockies. Between Idaho and Montana, the beauty, nature and solitude afforded a perfect destination when trying to keep physical distance from others.

To achieve our travel goals, we explored a different option; that of the Recreational Vehicle- or “RV.” RVs come in different sizes and levels of amenities from basic to luxury, from motorized to towed. To keep things simple, we went with a motorized vehicle that we could drive from place to place. You also need to consider the size or “class” of the vehicle- A is similar to the luxury tour buses you see at concerts, B is more like a customized van, or what we chose – the C Class which is the in-between point, large enough for separate living and sleeping areas, slideouts that expand for extra space and all he solar panels, generators and batteries we could have ever imagined. Our RV allowed us to stay anywhere whether a luxurious RV resort, State campground or “boondocking” in the middle of Forest Service or BLM, or Bureau of Land Management land miles from anyone. This did not keep us from exploring by day and watching movies with microwaved popcorn at night.

We flew from San Diego to Boise Idaho on Southwest Airlines, along with our dog Winky. Southwest always makes us feel safe with no passengers in middle seats until September 30, masks required, extensive cleaning and safe boarding and deplaning procedures. The extra space was great for us, and Winky who was in her carrier beneath the seats!
Once in Boise, our RV rental company picked us up at the airport, explained the features and functions of our RV and sent us on our way. Our first stop was Riggins, Idaho, the whitewater capital of the state. Between rafting, fishing and hiking, the area was a rugged and beautiful area.

We continued north to the Panhandle and while Couer d’Alene is the largest city, Sandpoint to the north or Chatcolet to the south offer much better options as they allow you stay in wooded campgrounds on the shore of the lake. Watching the sun set between the trees while our campfire crackled was a magical experience.

As we headed east, the rolling hills and forests gave way to mountains and wild west mining towns, the quirkiest being Wallace, Idaho founded in 1884. Used as the filming location for Dante’s Peak in 1997, the town is complete with silver mines, trading posts and a bordello museum as well as boasting to be the “Center of the Universe.”

Crossing over briefly into Montana as we headed South, we stopped at one of the best steakhouses in America, the Lolo Creek Steakhouse. While out of the way to most, it was on our path to the Salmon River. Everything in the steakhouse from the logs to build the restaurant, to the taxidermy animals on the walls, to the steaks on the grill are from the surrounding Montana wilderness.
The Salmon River provided the most beautiful scenery with rivers rushing through rocky gorges and vast open valleys. A surprising feature of the land is that Idaho is home to 130 hot springs, and by far the most amazing is Goldbug Hot Springs. After a 2-mile hike climbing 1,350 feet in the thin mountain air, you come to a pristine pool of water fed by a natural hot spring. The soak and the view are unlike anything.

Our last stop was the Sawtooth Mountains, with 57 peaks all between 10,000 and 10,751 feet in elevation. We enjoyed more hiking and fishing and the let the campfire and s’mores reward our adventurous journey.
Touring Idaho in an RV was a rewarding and amazing ESCAPADITA.

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Esteban Villanueva