Today was the first day that went entirely unaccording to plan. The plan had been to abandon I-80 and jog north up to Grand Teton National Park. A short drive in the morning followed by a fun filled afternoon and evening at one of the nation’s finest parks. Sadly, extreme weather conditions made that plan impossible.
Instead, I stayed on I-80 traveling west until it hit I-84 in Ogden then headed north on I-84. Since I had been planning on hanging out in Jackson Hole all afternoon, mileage wasn’t a big push today. All I needed to do was head far enough west to get out of the crazy Wyoming weather.
So my 400 mile journey from Rock Springs, Wyoming to Almo, Idaho included three stops. I stopped at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Wyoming, at Golden Spike National Historic Site in Utah, and ended the day at City of Rocks National Recreation Area in Idaho.
Flaming Gorge NRA is nice, but it felt like a sad conselation prize for missing out on the Tetons. The rocky terrain is similar to most of Wyoming and Utah, the major difference being a large lake formed by the damming of the Green River. Boats are allowed on the lake, and if you want to go waterskiing in a beautiful part of Wyoming, it’s worth it. But if you are simply looking for a scenic get away, there are other places in the region with nicer scenery (assuming they aren’t experiencing 60 mph winds and snowfall in June).
When my husband was a little kid, he loved trains. Eight of the twelve boxes we picked up at my in-laws and are now lugging cross-country are pieces of my husband’s childhood train set. He spent a lot of time looking at the replica locomotives at the Golden Spike, and I thought we was loving the park more than the average seven year old. Then he started pointing out all the faults in the adornment of 19th century technology on the modern engines. The locomotives aren’t really “replicas” they are just modern trains decorated to look like the originals. According to my husband, his is a tragic failure by the parks department to educate its patrons about historic technology. So Golden Spike was sort of a bust.
Fortunately, our third and final stop for the day turned out to be fabulous. City of Rocks is a giant pile of boulders hanging out in southern Idaho. That description doesn’t sound very cool, but it’s really beautiful here. It’s a bit of a rock climbers Mecca. I think we are the only people in the park who didn’t bring ropes. But if you like climbing, City of Rocks could easily entertain for a week. It’s a very big pile of boulders, more like several different piles of boulders close together so there are many climbing routs to choose from. I do recommend making reservations in advance though. All 64 sites in the National Recreation Area were taken when we showed up, so we ended up having to stay in a campsite at Castle Rock State Park across the street. Only about half of the 34 sites in the state park were taken tonight, but every single site has a “reserved” tag on it for this coming weekend. If we were hoping to stay more than one night, we would be totally out of luck.
Tonight while sitting around the campfire, my husband made the comment that we will get to the Tetons some other time. We’ve both been there before and both want to go back. But if our plans hadn’t fallen apart, we probably never would have come to City of Rocks. And unless my yet unborn children become rock climbing junkies, I’ll probably never be back. So today wasn’t a total bust. I’m really glad that I got a chance to see City of Rocks. It’s a beautiful place, even without a rope.
Just as we made several stops today before finding someplace we liked. We also went through several listening choices. We started and rejected four audio books before settling upon “1491” by Charles C Mann. I have a degree in anthropology, and this is my second reading of “1491”. Still, I’m finding myself learning things. There is a lot to Early American history that is greatly unknown, and Mann does a great job of recounting it. Even my physicist husband, who knows virtually no history, likes it.