A Slice of Idaho: Craters and Waterfalls - Summer 2020 Episode 20
- [Robert] In today's episode, we are going to see Mesa Falls and the Craters of the Moon as we explore another slice of Idaho. (bright music) ♪ I'm riding ♪ ♪ Riding, riding ♪ ♪ Riding in my RV ♪ ♪ My RV ♪ ♪ Wherever I want to be ♪ ♪ Because I'm free ♪ ♪ In my RV ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ (upbeat music) Greetings from Idaho. The first thing we're going to do in the Gem State is Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. Many, many people have recommended it and there seem to be some very impressive waterfalls. So let's make a left here onto the byway. (upbeat music) I think I found where to spend the night.
What does that sign say? 14 day limit, that's what it says. I see some people camping back there, so we'll return here. There's an Upper Falls and a Lower Falls.
Let's check out Upper Falls first. There's a $5 fee for day use. And here's the self-service pay station. All right, let's do this. This is Upper Mesa Falls. Maybe we have time and go to a Lower Mesa Falls afterwards.
The lady said you're supposed to pay $5, but it does say that if you have the America the Beautiful Interagency, whatever pass, it is free. So I just hung my America the Beautiful in the rear view mirror and hope it's okay. Let me show you what it says here. Day use fee required. But $0 with Golden Access, Interagency, or America the Beautiful Interagency Annual Pass. I think we're covered.
(light music) I guess it snows a little bit around here. Maybe I'll come back someday in winter when I get a four season rig. (water rushing) Oh, wow. Nice.
All right, let's check it out. This roaring river, Henry's Fork of the Snake River. Woo hoo! Yep, that's what I call a waterfall.
Let me tell you, Idaho never ceases to amaze me. (water crashing) (light music) Let's talk about Surfshark VPN, who's sponsoring this episode. And VPN stands for virtual private network, and that's exactly what it does. It creates a private network connection between your devices and the internet.
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Very nice. Now let's see if we can see the, this was the Upper Falls. Let's go-- - Turn left, then continue straight. - What do you mean? We're already here, we've been here.
Let's see if we can get to the Lower Falls and then we'll boondock it. (upbeat music) Nevermind the Lower Falls sign to the left, I saw the campground sign on the right and decided this wasn't the place. Oh well. Might as well drive the whole scenic byway, right? I'm gonna have to come back anyway. All of a sudden, this, and I don't think we are in the scenic byway anymore. Let's turn around, shall we? Here we are, Lower Mesa Falls.
(upbeat music) Actually, first let's check out the campground. It seems nice. And it can accommodate some pretty big rigs. But it seems to be full, so I'm gonna stick to plan A.
It is a very short trail to the overlook. Where is it? I hear water, but, whoa, look at that. That's impressive.
(light music) I think it is even more impressive than Upper Falls just because of the many levels and layers. Very, very cool. Well, very impressive, both waterfalls. - [Navigation] Turn left onto Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. - This one even more so I think. - [Navigation] Take the next left onto Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.
- And that campground, very nice. If I were to stay there for two nights and explore the area a little more. - [Navigation] Continue on Mesa Falls Scenic Byway for 13 miles. - It's already almost 6:00 PM. So for a quick overnight, I mean, I'm already dug out anyways. That was the plan.
(electronic beeping) - [Navigation] you're back online. You're on the fastest route. You should reach your destination by 6:03 PM.
(bright music) - Let's go find our boondocking spot for the night. Here we are at our free campsite, which by the way is located right by the Western entrance to the Byway off U.S. 20, very close to Harriman State Park, actually. Kind of hard to find the perfect campsite sometimes and the road is a little bit sketchy certain areas, but visually. (bright music) Yeah, I think this will do right here. I'm not terribly close to my neighbors and it is fairly level.
Yeah, this is going to be perfect. (happy music) The sun will be setting soon, and can you see the moon? (happy music) So peaceful out here. So beautiful. (wind blowing) (soft music) (upbeat music) Well, hello everybody. Good morning. Yeah, I felt like pancakes this morning.
I don't know why. This boondocking spot right here, very nice. I think it was a great discovery yesterday. A little bit of bugs here. And last night I caught a cockroach inside Minitini.
I started fumigating immediately. But other than that, very quiet and great LTE signal for those of us who. - [Navigation] In a quarter mile, turn left onto Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. - Who need the internet The road not too bad going in. I mean, having the trailer with a high clearance certainly helps.
And now we're going to the one place, one of the places that I missed last year, the Craters of the Moon. We're gonna arrive there at about 1 p.m., which is kind of late. It's been a late start this morning.
Got a little bit of work done. Yeah, very nice. You have some sites, very secluded sites back there. There's an Airstream. And there was a guy in a tent by those trees.
I don't know if you remember last night. Yeah guys, enjoy the ride. And tonight we'll decide whether we continue north or we go back to Salt Lake City like immediately. Yeah, Last night I was still pondering the idea of going north to Coeur d'Alene. It is supposed to be beautiful up there. Check it out.
In most states I visited, these things are round. Here, they are square and stackable. That's genius.
Of course I have no idea what I'm talking about. (bright music) Is it me or is it starting to look like the desert? And how many antennas can you fit on top of that mountain? All right, let's stop here real quick and see what the sign says. Three views here. Good excuse to take a break. (bright music) I think we're getting close. That looks like a lava field.
Let's stop here for a few minutes. Well, this is like an overlook from where you can see this otherworldly landscape this vast ocean of lava flows, cinder cones. It is quite a sight to see, actually. Whoever thought of the name Craters of the Moon was right on.
It definitely does not look like Earth around here. The overlook was nice, but let's go into the visitor center. Apparently there is a, ooh, that was steep, there is a loop road. Several places where you can stop. Hopefully I can take it with a trailer too.
Well here we are. And there is a campground, but it is completely full. Remember, summer 2020. We'll have to spend the night someplace else. But hey, they seem to have oversized vehicle parking everywhere.
So we can spend a few hours here and do the loop road. And the ranger said that the road is RV friendly and trailer friendly, so. Yes, apparently most points of interest, they have turnarounds and oversized parking.
I love it when these places are RV friendly. What a fascinating place this is. (energetic music) Our first stop is going to be the Devil's Orchard.
And this is kind of like the easiest trail. It is even supposed to be wheelchair accessible. There's an oversized vehicle parking right here to the left, so let's explore. All right, let's do the Devils Orchard, which is a half mile accessible. It should be easy. And a good start to our visit here to the Craters of the Moon.
Here we go here, here we got some information. Should be an easy loop. (easygoing music) By the way, as you can see, pretty windy today.
And this microphone hopefully stays sounding okay. That cap keeps coming off, like the windscreen. So I have to tighten it somehow.
Yeah, apparently we are destroying all these marvelous rock formations by, I guess that's why they have this very nice paved trail here. Look at this, there's a longer trail by the entrance which is four miles round trip, but it's kind of late in the day. I mean, it's like 2:30 p.m. here. So we have like four hours to explore the whole thing. Basically I want to stay here until 5, 5:30, 6 at the latest. And then we're gonna see if we can stay at the Walmart in Twin Falls.
Sunset is at at 8:15 p.m. So we should arrive right at sunset time, though it is pretty cool. Very interesting. (easygoing music) This first trail, it was good. Perhaps not great. It was good Coming up next, Inferno Cone.
Notice a pattern here? Devil, inferno. What's coming up next, purgatory? Of course, you always have that one car who parks in the oversize area. And not even straight.
Well, this is called the Inferno Cone. And actually the view from here is quite amazing. (easygoing music) Let's do it. It's not difficult to climb.
Oh, the views. The views are amazing. That's where we're going next. But before, we have to go all the way to the top. It's a lot farther than it looked from far away.
Yep, up and up we go. Super windy. Interesting rocks here. I think we're almost there. (light music) Amazing. Just amazing terrain with all these cinder cones.
(dramatic music) Oh yeah, it is uncomfortable windy up here, but definitely worth the views, the 360 degree views of the Craters of the Moon. (energetic music) But yeah, definitely, I mean it will be a good test for this microphone. If it sounds good, I know I got my money's worth (chuckling).
All right, let's go back down. (energetic music) Well, really cool, all this volcanic rock here. You see how it shines? I don't know if I can get it.
You see how it? (energetic music) There's the campground and the visitor center. You can see how it is kind of eroded by all the people, you know, using this path. It's a very short drive to the next parking lot.
And here we have several points of interest. Like the Spatter Cones, the Snow Cone, and the south end of the North Crater Trail. I look like Ferdinand the clown (laughing). But apparently these are miniature volcanoes. And from here, you can also take another trail that goes to the giant cone, but that's the long trail that we're not gonna do today. That's the two mile round, I mean four mile round trip.
But let's check out these miniature volcanoes. Let's see this one first. And then we'll see that one. I like this one, it has like a, like a natural bridge up there. (bright music) Look at all these rocks. It's like they just melted in place there.
Here's a view inside the crater. Start heading back down. (bright music) Now let's go to that one. Okay, I'm assuming this is that longer trail. Yeah, there's the North Crater Trail. I dunno if I wanna take that, let's, let's do the Snow Cone.
Yeah, let's do the Snow Cone and maybe later we can do at least part of that North Crater Trail. Yeah, this one also has like a fragile little arch there. Very cool. Oh man, it is so windy and it has that howling sound. Here we go. Hmm, I guess that's why they call it the Snow Cone.
There's actually snow down there. I'm gonna grab some water and we're gonna do a section of that North trail, the North Cone, whatever it's called. All right, went to the bathroom, got some water, got my hat. Now let's tackle a segment of that trail, the longer trail.
And I guess all these trails are paved like this to protect the environment. (dramatic music) And the pavement ends. So I've always said, never forget to look back, which by the way, not the best marked trail. You would think maybe it goes that way, but I think it is this way. (dramatic music) Oh wow. I'm so glad I decided to take this trail.
This is probably the highlight of the whole Craters of the Moon, walking on this ridge. Doesn't that look like an alien face? I just spoke to a young couple coming this way and they say that it gets much better as we head towards, actually this goes all the way towards the visitor center. Look at that. Look at that crater. And I'm going to do at least a mile, right? I only brought one bottle of water, but it's not very strenuous and it's not hot at all, so we should be okay. (dramatic music) That is just amazing.
I just can't get tired of looking at that huge crater. That's a great view of the lava field. Let me tell you, I'm not looking forward to hiking that back up, but I guess we'll have to. Kinda feel like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.
I mean if it wasn't for those green plants occasionally. Actually I think it looks more like Mars than the moon. (dramatic music) Tell you what I'm sure the view from up there is going to be spectacular, but I'm gonna start heading back because I really want to do that last trail, the one with the caves, which is towards the end of the national monuments here. I mean, we did about 3/4 of a mile, which is more or less almost half of the trail, which is what I had in mind anyways. And now we have to go up there.
That's the steepest one, I think. Amazing. (light music) Let me tell you something, I am so glad that I decided to do this hike because this was not in the plan when I was looking at the map, you know. I'm like two miles, it's kind of far or it's after 4 p.m., you know, but I doubt any other hike is going to be as beautiful as this and they didn't have the lava field over there and this crater over here.
I mean, it's. Yep, this is the shot. I think I've seen this one in one of the brochures. And if you Google Craters of the Moon National Monument, this is the first picture that comes up.
(light music) And we're almost back to the trail head. I think we're gonna have time for just one more of these trails. Let's make it count. It's almost 5 p.m. Like six, I want to start heading back. (light music) Yeah, this is definitely the last trail that we're gonna be able to do today.
Yeah, we're gonna go do the loop trail. That's it, it's 1.8 miles. Attention, cave access by permits only. Well, we're not going to the cave. but this is the Broken Top Loop Trail going in this way.
I just met some viewers there. They have the Thor Sequence here. It's always great to meet viewers on the road. (bright music) Flowers are in bloom Fascinating, this lava field. Broken Top, that's what we're doing.
So we're gonna do the Broken Top clockwise here. I have a feeling after that trail we did, everything's going to be kind of underwhelming, but maybe not. (bright music) One, what does the one mean? I couldn't figure out what the one means, but we'll figure it out after the fact. Here's number two. Apparently there was a guide that you could buy for 50 cents down there at the trail head and this nice couple coming through, they just gave it to me.
And they said not to miss number three. So, now we know what every number means. (bright music) I'm telling you, what a beautiful day.
I mean, it's borderline like I could be wearing a hoodie, but then I would be warm. It's probably 69 degrees, something like that, Fahrenheit. Which would be like what, 18 Celsius? I don't know, around there. But very comfortable, very comfortable weather.
And it's kind of dry. (light music) Here we go, here's number three. Let's do it. Great, great commanding view of the Cinder Cones, The Big Sink. (bright music) Those must be the Blue Dragon lava flows.
Let's start heading back. That in front of us, that is called Big Cinder Butte. Let me tell you something, everything looks so beautiful at this time of the day. I mean, this is admittedly a beautiful place, but it's magic hour.
It's almost magic hour. We have another number coming up. Let's see what that is. Number four is basically talking about cinders. The crunchy rocks you've been walking on are cinders. They contain many gas bubbles.
Okay, so I guess this would be a cinder. That's pretty cool. (easygoing music) We are walking on the lava field. Hmm, Buffalo Cave.
Let's check it out. Well, here it is. But it is closed.
I'm gonna try and see a little bit inside, but that's pretty much as much as we can do. (easygoing music) Well, that would have been incredibly cool to go into the caves. I can see there's like a system of caves. You see them all below us here. But we're gonna obey the rules and stick to our trail.
I mean, we can come to this edge right here and see what below, right? Just a bunch of rocks. Look at that, that's, I guess that's part of the cave over there too. Very, very cool. And like everything else, this has taken way longer than I was anticipating. There's more caves down there. Check it out.
(easygoing music) I'm definitely going to arrive at Twin Falls at night. But you know, with places like this, and that's the trail continues there, places like these of this otherworldly beauty, I mean look at these rocks. It's really impossible to plan. You know, I'm gonna get out of here at six.
No, because you want to see as much as possible. And definitely at the beginning, I wasn't too impressed. I'll be honest about it.
But it's really growing on me, these Craters of the Moon. Yeah, number nine here just talks about a Big Cinder Butte there, which is the largest cinder butte in the whole Craters of the Moon National Monument. Everything is cool here.
Look at this lava field. Let's go. All right, I think time's up. I would have loved to do that one more pull out that we're gonna see here at the end of the road, one more trail.
I don't wanna be driving at night in areas where I've never been before. So I'm gonna head back to the visitor center. And as soon as I get internet here, like right now, I'm gonna plot a course to the Walmart where we're staying tonight, an hour and 36 minutes.
(upbeat music) I've noticed everybody always hears about Idaho potatoes, but this area coming up along the I-84 corridor is actually more famous for its cattle, dairy cows mainly or so I've heard. Remember Shoshone? We were here in this area in summer 2019. (upbeat music) Here we are, Walmart, our home for the night. I see an older RV parked there, so it seems RV friendly. (upbeat music) You know what, I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about this Walmart that doesn't feel right, so I've got wheels. I'm gonna move to another Walmart closer to downtown Twin Falls just in case.
(upbeat music) Yeah, I think I'm going to be much more comfortable here. (light music) I hope you have enjoyed this slice of Idaho. Make sure you check out episode 30 of the summer 2019 series to see yet another slice of this great state. Next time we come, hopefully in 2021, we'll do the north. But for now, the journey will take us south into Nevada. But more about that one the next episode.
Until then, ♪ Riding, riding ♪ thank you so much for watching and see you on the road. (bright music) ♪ I'm riding ♪ ♪ Riding in my RV ♪