Snake River – Hell’s Canyon

I am currently in Colorado but need to go back a few days and wrap up my final thoughts and actions regarding Hell’s Canyon.

After I finally made it up to the 8,000+ foot mountain, which is what I originally came here for, I set off in search of the Snake River.  Donna, at the Hell’s Canyon Visitor Center, had provided me with maps on how to get to both the mountain top and the river itself.  After descending from the mountain and getting back out to the Visitor Center I had to drive 27 miles north, then 15 miles west to be able to touch “The Snake”.

When I got there I discovered a nice, wide, calm river…. still not the raging rapids I was hoping to see.





The Snake River rapids, below the Snake River Dam which was between where I came from and where I was now, are renowned world wide.  When fueled by snow melt from the Seven Devils mountains in the late spring and early summer they become a ferocious water highway, developing Class IV, Class V and even Class VI rapids, which can be deadly.  Kayakers and rafters from all over the world come to “shoot the Snake”.  At that time of year only very experienced people are allowed on the river.

I’ve been told by several folks in the area that the only way for me to really enjoy and respect the Snake River is to take a two or three trip on it and experience what it has to offer (although I’m not doing any Class IV rapids… Class I or II are probably plenty for me!).

Hell to pay



(Photo credit: Van Redin/Warner Brothers Television)

After my first day in Hell’s Canyon I posted a photo and said that while I was impressed by what I saw, I was disappointed because it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I also posted a photo which I interpreted as Hell’s Canyon giving me the finger because of my poor attitude, and speculated that there might still be hell to pay.  Well, there was.

Towards the end of that day, as I drove east towards the Snake River (well…. reservoir) and was about to cross into Idaho here is what happened.  After driving for quite a while on twisting mountain roads to get up to and down from the Hell’s Canyon Overlook it was a welcome relief to get on a nice smooth, level highway.  I was driving along at probably 45 or 50 miles per hour when I noticed a sign that said “Speed Bump, 5 mph,” and no sooner did it see it when BOOM, I hit it.  No warning grooves in the road, no rumble strips ahead of it, just a sign that basically said “Hey, you’d better slo……  BOOM”.

I was going to go back the next day to see exactly what the speed limit was and how far ahead of the first speed bump the sign I saw was, but I never had time.  But I did feel that this was swift revenge exacted on me by the Canyon for my unflattering thoughts.


For those of you too young to understand the photo reference, it is from “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV series from the late 70’s.  Brothers Bo and Luke Duke drove around in their orange Dodge Charger called the “General Lee”.  At least once per episode their car became airborne as they were being pursued by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, or his deputy Enos.

Snake River – various places


(Photo credit: USGS/and modified by Shannon1)

The Snake River extends 1,078 miles from Wyoming, through Idaho and Oregon, ending in Washington state.  I have passed over it in many places during my trip.  As I left Boise to head east towards Wyoming I passed over it twice on just a 5 mile stretch of Interstate 84.  The photo I posted a few weeks ago (from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming) was very near the beginning of the river.  The pictures that follow in this post are all from Idaho.






And when I got to Idaho Falls, just south of where I was staying in Rexburg, they had this magnificent waterfall downtown which was built to draw water off the side of the Snake River.





Going from Boise to Rexburg, Idaho

Here are some of things I saw a few days ago when I left Boise and headed east to Rexburg.  This would be my last full day in Idaho.

From Interstate 84


My new fascination with wind turbines


The Shoshone Ice Cave



This place sounded interesting (a lava cave which maintains a constant temperature of 28 degrees Fahrenheit and has ice on the floor) but when I got there and saw the place I decided to pass.  My original boss in Durham, Bond Anderson, used to say “I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night.”  I like to think I know a tourist trap when I see one.  Ok, ok, so I’m still licking my wounds after the Flaming Geezer, I mean Geyser, scam up in Washington that set me back 10 bucks.  Well, fool me once….

Now HERE is an ice cave… (from the movie “Fight Club,” one of my favorites)


(Photo credit:

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve


This place is a huge area (over 1,100 square miles) of volcanic rock, similar to what I had seen near Bend, Oregon.  The photo above was actually taken before I got to the “Craters” facility.  There were areas like this all around me.  At first it looked like an area where a highway crew had piled up asphalt which had been dug up when replacing a large stretch of road.  Other areas were pitch black, and looked like piles of fresh asphalt which hadn’t been spread out and rolled to make a new road yet.  Once at the facility the black rock is continuous and extends as far as the eye can see.

NASA astronauts actually trained at “Craters” before the Apollo missions took them to the moon.

I didn’t go in “Craters” due to time constraints.  I figured I had pretty much seen the same thing when in Oregon.


Next stop was Arco, Idaho.  My new friend Tom, one of my co-hosts when I stay at their Airbnb in Missouri, told me to be sure to stop here during my trip.

Experimental Breeder Reactor-I

This is where the world’s first nuclear breeder reactor was built.  It became operational in 1951.  It is no longer in use but the facility is open to the public for self-guided tours.  There are displays which explain what the various pieces of equipment are and how new technology is being developed.  There is a newer facility nearby which develops nuclear fuel and other technology but it is under tight security and is not open to the public.







Pity there wasn’t anyone else there to help take my picture in this “mad scientist” prop






I think that about 98% of the hay I see harvested in fields these days has been saved using the new “round bale” technology.  Old school hay bales weighed between 50 and 60 pounds.  The large, round bales can weigh up to 1,500 pounds.

Shortly before I got to Rexburg, Idaho I drove past a hay field with huge rectangular bales (actually referred to as square bales).  These are not your father’s hay bales that you could carry using two hay hooks, these are ginormous.


I was soooo tempted to drive my car out there and park next to one to demonstrate how big these puppies are but I didn’t want to get myself in trouble.  This field was just west of Arco, Idaho and when I got in to town a few minutes later here came a big truck carrying some of these types of bales which will give you some idea just how big they are.






Yes, we have no potatoes

A few weeks ago when I left northern Idaho to head over to Washington state I promised that when I got to Boise, in southern Idaho, later in the trip that I’d give you a full helping of potatoes.  Well, because of my 3-day obsession with trying to satisfy my preconceived notions about Hell’s Canyon I never made it to any of the fine establishments in Boise to sample any of their fare.

Here are two of the places I had planned to visit:

Westside Drive In (a Boise institution, known for their Idaho Ice Cream Potato)


(Photo credit:

Boise Fry Company – serving up fries of various types of potatoes (Russet, Purple, Sweet, etc.) in various forms (Shoestring, Curly, Homestyle, etc).  Check out their menu online.


(Photo credit: Adam Lindsley/

I will come back to visit Hell’s Canyon again and spend more time there, as well as doing the things I had originally planned to do in the Boise area.