Ketchum to Missoula, Montana

Trail Creek Road

Trail Creek Road

We had a nice relaxing stay in Ketchum.  If you are one who “follows” this blog and receives automatic emails when there is a new post, you know I also did a lot of writing while there.  You can breathe a sigh of relief — I think in the future I will just post about once a week even when we are on the road seeing and doing so much every day.

004In addition to all the ski slopes, Ketchum is surrounded by National Forests.  So on this Memorial Day weekend, our hotel was full.  We saw lots of people hiking, riding and bicycling.  As this was a rest stop for us, we just drove back a couple dirt roads and found pretty spots for picnic lunches.

005One of the roads we took for a picnic was Trail Creek Road, National Forest Road 51, through the Challis National Forest.  When we checked our GPS, both the fastest and shortest routes to Missoula were over the mountain on Trail Creek Road to US 93.

Idaho 75 was marked on the map as scenic, and we considered taking it to 93.  It was hard to imagine how a dirt road would be quicker, but we decided it would be fun to drive over the mountain, so that is what we did.

Thousand Springs Valley

Thousand Springs Valley

The road was “washboard-rough” and slow, but it the trip to 93 was not that long.  The views were spectacular.  As often the case, when we crossed the pass at the top (8140 feet), we found ourselves on the “wet” side of the mountain in a tall pine forest.

We descended into a beautiful wide valley of irrigated ranches and open range, “Thousand Springs Valley.”

Driving north, we came to Mt. Borah, the highest peak in Idaho.  In 1983, there was an earthquake in the valley and Mt. Borah was

Mt. Borah

Mt. Borah

thrust up six inches and the valley sank by about seven feet.  There is a small park where you can still see part of the 21 mile-long fault line.

U.S. 93 parallels the Salmon River after the junction with Highway 75 until it gets to North Fork where the main river turns west.  The Salmon is one of the longest rivers in the US all within the borders of one state.  It is also the River of No Return of movie fame.  It was called the river of no return because for about 180 miles before it feeds into the Snake River, it goes through steep canyons — some deeper than the Grand Canyon – that are mostly inaccessible by road.  The river passes through gorges too narrow to portage and rapids too rough for boatmen to go up-stream “to return.”

The Salmon River along US 93

The Salmon River along US 93

William Clark and Meriwether Lewis separated for a while seeking the best route from the Missouri River to the Columbia River in 1805.  Clark hoped the Salmon would be that route, but when he reached North Fork, the local Indians told him the Salmon was impassable.  Clark was there in September when the river was low and rapids all exposed but decided to try anyway.  He then recorded in his journal that the Salmon “is almost one continued rapid” and that passage “with Canoes is entirely impossible.”  If only they had today’s rubber rafts – or better yet, jet boats.

High spring water Near North Fork

We left the river at North Fork and went on to Missoula, for our second visit.  I wrote a post for our first visit.  You can read it by selecting May 2012 under “Archives.”


About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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One Response to Ketchum to Missoula, Montana

  1. Loraine Beckman says:

    Looking at the Ketchum trip brings back many memories including Crater of the Moon Nat. Park. The folks took me up to Ketchum at Christmas to see the skiiers come down the hill with torches. Hailey , of course was where they lived for a few years. Nice picts and wonderful narrative. Thanks for thinking of me. Love Loraine


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