A road trip through Central Idaho shouldn’t be rushed. A wonderful diversion from the 80mph views on Interstate 84 is the slower and picturesque expanse spanning Idaho Falls and Mountain Home along US 20.
I spent the better part of yesterday and today poking my way around the region, in the shadows of the snow-capped Sawtooth Mountains to the north and looking out onto the unworldly lava flow comprising the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve to the south.
Hub-and-spoking my adventure out from Hailey, a county seat of about 8,000 residents, a sunny morning forecast had me out in the direction of Craters of the Moon for the first part of the day.
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Using the America the Beautiful parks pass for a daily admission, exploration of the park started in the small, but interpretive, Visitor Center and then out through seven key points of interest along paved roads leading guests into the 750,000-acre preserve formed as lava flowed and cooled from volcanic fissures in the earth over 2100 years ago.
Park highlights include paved trails, lava tubes, caves, cones, fissures, and panoramic views. Leave between two and three hours to fully explore the park; noting camping is available if you want turn your visit into an overnight stay. Bring plenty of water and wear a hat—as you can imagine, reprieve from the sun is scarce in place where only the most determined trees dare grow.
With rain clouds off in the distance, I headed back through Hailey and continued north eleven miles in the direction of Ketchum and Sun Valley. I visited this popular wintertime ski destination in my college years and always wanted to come back and see the area without the snow and tourists.
As I predicted, much of the downtown shopping district was advertising sidewalk sales and many of the museums and summer attractions weren’t quite open for the pre-Memorial Day crowd. I embraced this good fortune and enjoyed a quiet stroll through the Ketchum Cemetery in search of Ernest Hemingway’s final resting place.
A light rain was falling and I eventually found a flat, marble, marker between two stately pine trees. Obviously, respect the sanctity of this venue if you venture out to find it on your own.
Perhaps my favorite discovery of the day was the festive Tibetan prayer wheel in the heart of the Garden of Infinite Compassion, one of eight beautiful gardens located within the Sawtooth Botanical Garden approximately three or four miles south of Ketchum.
Small, but lovely, look for garden expansion in the coming seasons; I spotted a children’s splash area in the master site design. If you have a picnic basket, stop here and spread out a blanket.
Back in Hailey and staying at the AmericInn, I’m enjoying the soft rustle of aspen leaves from outside my window. Families staying at this property will appreciate a heated pool/sauna/steam room, exercise equipment, laundry facilities, in-room refrigerator and microwave, comfortable beds, and hot breakfast.
A short walk to the stores and restaurants lining downtown Hailey, note a grocery store and movie theater are both conveniently located just across the street. If you go, look for a collection of board games and decks of cards in the treasure chest located near the fireplace in the two-story lobby. And if you are traveling with your dog, ask for one of the pet-friendly rooms.
I’m writing this story as part of a spontaneous adventure exploring the sites and scenery around AmericInn locations in Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota. AmericInn is giving away ninety-two $200 vouchers as part of the Fill-Inn-to-Win game running through August 31. Read more information here: https://www.roadtripsforfamilies.com/americinn-fill-inn-win-game/
Good luck and happy trails!