We loved our time in Idaho! We really got to experience a lot and made lasting memories!
Celebration Park ($7/night)
So much more than potatoes! We actually found our favorite campground so far in Idaho. It is a bit in the boonies in the town of Melba. It is called Celebration Park and boasts being Idaho’s first archaeological park. It seems to be mostly used for school field trips. The visitors center is only open from 10 am to 2 pm although you can access the parking lot, camping area, trails, boat ramp, dock, and restrooms 24/7. I did a Jeri’s Two Cents video on the park here.
For $7/night you can dry camp either in the parking lot or down a dirt road behind the visitors center for up to three days. We opted for the parking lot because the camping area is down a pretty rutted road and we didn’t want to risk it. Plus the parking lot is blissfully flat, quiet, and our front door opened out to a picnic area and a view of the Snake River. Bam! There is water available and clean restrooms. No dump station. The area has over 5,000 petroglyphs – some dating back 10,000 years! We did a self guided tour of them and found several of the cool rock carvings. The volunteers there also operate a free atlatl range. Atlatls were the precursor to the bow and arrow. We learned how to throw them and then played/practiced for over a half an hour. Even Evangeline, our four year old, was allowed to participate. It was SO MUCH FUN! A short walk down the road is the Historic Mahaffie Railroad Bridge – now a foot bridge. It spans the Snake River and there were several people fishing off of it. After you walk across it you can continue walking on trails up the mountain (which we found out later was a dormant volcano). If you make it to the top there are neat rock formations and a stunning view!
Craters of the Moon National Park ($20 to get in or free with the federal park pass)
Our next stop was the CRATERS OF THE MOON! If you plopped Devil’s Tower down in the middle of this National Monument there would be no doubt that E.T. is real! Ha! It is such an alien looking area. As you approach it you begin to see these large chunks of what was once lava. The become more and more plentiful as you get closer until you are just surrounded by them. The visitors center has displays and a good video explaining the geology and history of the area. There is a driving loop through the park with around seven parking areas where you can get out and explore. Make sure you check out the lava caves! Just walking the paved tail to get to them is crazy cool – just check out the pictures! You can easily picture your self walking on another planet. We learned that NASA scientists actually use the area to train for just that!
Video: Moonwalking in Idaho
There is a campsite in the park but it was full and I am not sure we could have fit anyway. It would be a super cool place to stay though – you are in the middle of the lava rock field! Instead, we stayed down the road in Arco. We were headed to a dispersed site but stopped at the KOA to get propane. The couple that was managing it talked us into staying by giving us a nice rate (the campground is practically empty). We had been dry camping for over a month so we were basking in the luxury of water and electric hook ups!
Boise + (everything was free except the pumpkin patch and the penitentiary)
Our first day in Boise we used our ASTC membership to go into the Discovery Center of Idaho. Its exhibit when we were there was “STEM” and had like 40 or 50 different hands on activities, contraptions, or displays. We spent several hours playing and we all had fun! Just next door is Julia Davis Park. We ate lunch there and the kids played at the playground. It is a great option for a day in city!
Mike landed a short term gig helping with the harvest so we could pad our bank account a little. We stayed in Parma at the Old Fort Boise RV Campground for several weeks. It is a little farming community of less than 1,800 people just west of Boise. It was our first time since June staying in the same place for more than two weeks. The people were nice and we had a great playground right outside our door. The kids and I actually enjoyed the down time from traveling and we established some daily routines. Once or twice aweek we would pull our wagon into town (about a mile away) and go to the library, grocery store, and a yummy little pizza shop. I also took the opportunity to paint a couple walls of the camper to make it feel a bit more homey. When Mike had a rare day off we ventured toward Boise to explore. One of our favorite things was the Old Idaho State Penitentiary (see website for fees). It is over 100 years old and is supposedly haunted. Unfortunately (fortunately?) we had no paranormal experiences. Either way, we officially made the kids scared of serving time! The fact that the only shower in the maximum security area was in the open and in view of all the cells sealed the deal for all of them. If that hadn’t done it, walking down death row surely did. Especially the execution area. Thankfully the girls had no idea what it was because I was fully creeped out. The last thing we saw before we left the jail was the Women’s Ward. The boys were incensed! The women had it so much easier than the men! It sparked quite a lot discussion about equality and fairness. #roadschooling
Just beyond the walls of the big house there were several hiking trails. We did the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes Loop. It took us up to Table Rock rock formation. Aside from me (Jeri) having minor anxiety attacks over the kids and ledges, it was a great hike and provided spectacular views of Boise.
One afternoon we checked out Hyde Park. It is a what we thought of as a tiny Berkley, CA or mini Austin, TX. The main street has an old school toy store, a couple of coffee shops, a bicycle store and some other small businesses. The coolest place is this little souvenir shop called Hyde and Seek: Uncommon Goods. We have walked through a lot of similar shops but this one really has some cool and interesting stuff. I could have Christmas shopped for just about everyone I know and they all would have gotten something unique and fun!
We enjoyed a picnic at Lucky Peak State Park one day. Another day we explored the MK Nature Center and then walked along the Greenbelt and found a ridiculously fun playground. We got Hermione a new bicycle at the Boise Bicycle Project and thenrode bikes at Eagle Dirt Bike Track. Even I felt cool for a minute! We enjoyed a fun evening at the Farmstead Pumpkin Patch (price depends on how many things you participate in – we spent almost $80) in Meridian right until Evangeline was bitten by a pony! That would have to be the one unhappy moment of our entire time to Idaho. It was a great experience overall and the best part is that now we get to call Mike Farmer Dad! Plus, we ate a lot of free potatoes! When in Idaho…
Video: On the Road Again