Trusting Eric the Bluegrasser’s route to Glacier, we took the Sawtooth Scenic Byway a/k/a blue highway 75 to Stanley. It follows Wood River part of the way and then picks up on the beginning of the Salmon River when it more resembles a good irrigation ditch. Near Stanley, Hwy 75 becomes the Salmon River Scenic Byway, and “scenic” is pure understatement. What a beautiful drive! Ok, there’s a six mile stretch of 7% downgrade that is a bit stressful, but only moderately challenging even pulling a 28’ Airstream. My Crankshaft Value (the number of vehicles wanting to pass) had approached double-digits when a Harley rider blasted past me and the first four in line behind me. He was passing us blind coming into a left-hand mountain turn. As I wondered if he’d become a hood ornament it struck me that there goes one of way too many guys on the planet whose colei outweigh his gray matter. Lest the VW Westphalia immediately behind us try the same move I pulled over at the next overlook.
Since our batteries almost ran out in Yellowstone we only trust them for two or three days. Despite today’s 110 mile pull we planned to camp in Challis at another full-service but no-scenery Passport America park in Challis. The park delivered what we came for and soon enough we were on our way north, looking for a campsite on the big part of the Salmon River.
We got excellent advice at a Forest Service ranger station outside Challis. “Go to Cottonwood, 15 miles north. It’s on the Salmon River, has been recently refurbished, and is a beautiful location.” Services are limited to water, vault toilets, and 110 outlets to recharge small electronic devices, but if anything, the scenery was undersold. Our pillows in the Kat’s Cradle were no more than 50 feet from the river, which here is 60 yards wide, cold, fast, and clear. Rainbow trout leave the water to take errant bugs, the cottonwoods offer abundant shade, and once again the wildflowers are in full riot mode.
This is our best campsite this year. Next time you’re in central Idaho pulling a trailer or wheelin’ an RV, you must check it out.