After a brief stint in Wyoming, we were on to the next state of our ridiculous cross-country journey. On to Idaho! And what do you know; it's not just potatoes. In fact, far from it! Idaho turned out to be the surprise favorite state of the entire trip. And this was only part one...
Bear Lake State Park, Idaho
Just before reaching our campground, there was a sign that said "Welcome to Idaho." That's how close to the line we were.
While the drive might have been confusing, the views were amazing. The lake was super blue with clear waters and amazing mountains in the background. Our campsite was perched up on a hill overlooking the lake below. We had lots of space to relax and celebrate the upcoming 4th of July with our little bear on Bear Lake — though our neighbors were a bit rambunctious and noisy....
Naturally, we couldn't let this lake go to waste. The water was low, so we saw tons of trucks actually parked on the beach with tents, tubes, and grills going full blast. It looked like fun, so we decided to grab our tubes (along with a few "sodas") and head down to the water.
It's hard to beat a relaxing day on the lake, especially when you're in such a beautiful area. I just had to grab some drone footage, since the pictures we took just couldn't do the area justice.
Unfortunately, we were only at Bear Lake for one day before moving to our next Idaho spot. But if the rest of Idaho was this cool (which it definitely was), we were in for a treat!
American Falls for the fourth
If you want to celebrate the 4th of July, what better place than a town called American Falls!?
Rose and I have always loved the 4th of July. Not only is it just a great holiday filled with fireworks and amazing grilled food, but it's also the anniversary of the day we met! So we always make sure to go all-out when the day arrives every year — as you can probably tell by Rose's outfit choice.
This year, we were going to spend our time at Massacre Rocks State Park in American Falls, Idaho. The campsite sat way up on a hill overlooking the Snake River. Little did we know that the Snake River would be a big part of our trip for the next several spots.
And, for any history buffs out there, the Snake River was also a major part of the Oregon Trail route. But we'll get to that...
Now, Massacre State Park sits right on the Oregon Trail, which we didn't really know before we got there. Of course, the name suggests something sinister happened here (which it totally did...), but we like to stick to the positives!
According to signs at the park, you could do a short three-mile hike to actually see ruts the wagons made in the ground as countless settlers traveled the incredible journey across the country. So on the hottest day we were there (of course), we headed out to see some history!
Yes, I complained during the long, hot hike. And yes, I understand the irony after walking only three miles of the Oregon Trail after driving my diesel-powered, air-conditioned truck filled plenty of snacks at 70mph to get there. It was still hot!
While it may have been hot, it was super cool to be that close to history. Looking at the landscape the settlers had to cross with wooden wagons was incredible. We had a whole new respect for those who made it happen back in the day. I also found an awesome tumbleweed!
We always check Google Maps for nearby attractions whenever we visit a new place. This time, I noticed there was a pizza place in downtown (if you want to call it that) American Falls called The Dam Pizza Place. They claimed their pizza was "the best pizza by a dam site." The restaurant was across from a dam...
I can never resist a good pun, so we headed into town to check it out one of the days we were there. Although the restaurant itself might not have looked like much, I'd say their pizza was some of the best we had on the whole trip! The puns lived up to the hype.
After a history- and pizza-filled 4th of July holiday, we were off to our next Idaho stop way out in the desert.
Did you know Idaho has the tallest single-structured sand dune in all of North America? Well, it does! As you head into Bruneau Dunes State Park, one geographical feature stands out more than just about anything around, and it's really hard to miss. There's a 470-foot-tall pile of sand right in the middle of the park!
The extra weird part is that it's the only sandy part in the area. Everything around the dune is rock, dirt, and grass. It stands out so bad that it's almost hard to believe it's a natural formation. But it is!
Most of our time spent in Bruneau Dunes State Park was very hot, very sunny, and spent picking foxtails out of our socks and Luna's fuzz. If you don't know what a foxtail is, it's a type of grass with detachable spurs on it. They get stuck everywhere! Don't go outside in socks...
However, when we were checking in, we noticed there were some sleds and boards with a "for rent" sign on them. There's no snow, so what could it be for? Apparently, sandboarding and sand sledding are a thing!
That's right. You can rent a sled or board, walk your way to the top of the massive dune, and slide all the way down! Naturally, we couldn't pass up that opportunity, so we made sure to plan a day to "hit the dunes."
There were quite a few rules and suggestions before going out on the dunes. Since it was so hot out in the desert, the park stopped renting boards once the sand's surface temperature reached 90-degrees. Since it was summer, that happened sometime around 9am. So we had to go out in the morning.
As you can imagine, sand isn't quite as slippery as snow. There's a lot more friction, so you're supposed to wax your board before sliding down the hill. The store said they ran out of wax, but we could rent the equipment for half-price. We asked if they'd slide at all, and the lady at the desk assured us they'd slide, just not as fast.
Well, we didn't want to go fast down a 470-foot sand dune anyway, so that sounded perfectly fine to us. We grabbed our gear and headed out to the dune.
Since it was our first try, we didn't want to go down all 470 feet. I hiked a little ways up the smaller hill, strapped on my board, and stood up ready to fly!
I didn't go anywhere...
As it turns out, without wax, you won't slide at all! The person who rented us the boards wasn't lying that we'd go slower, but this was a bit slower than even we wanted... We couldn't even scoot our way down the hill, and it was steep!
Luckily, Rose is super smart and realized we had a bunch of candles in the camper. We grabbed a few, rubbed them on the boards, and... well...
It worked! We spent the morning sandboarding and sand sledding down the largest single-structured sand dune in North America. How many people can say they've done that!?
Bruneau Dunes' other claim to fame is that it's one of the darkest places in all of North America, which makes it perfect for stargazing. There's even an observatory in the park that's open to the public. Although we didn't check out the observatory, we could see a lot more stars at night than we've ever seen before — even though we went to bed early and missed the "good viewing time."
And with that amazing adventure, our tour of Idaho was complete. We saw lush mountain lakes, incredible rocky rivers, deep history, and sand dunes in the desert, all in the same state! There's no doubt that Idaho is one of the most versatile states we've ever been lucky enough to explore — and we weren't even done. Once we finished the Pacific Northwest leg of our trip, were coming back through the northern part of Idaho for another few stops, and we couldn't be more excited!
He likes pizza.