A bright sun was shining on the day we arrived. There was just over a foot of fresh snow on the ground and far more expected in the days to come.
Our three day journey, making a loop starting in Boise, Idaho totaling 406 miles.
Extra sleeping bags, blankets, food for twice as long as the trip, and a special Pinterest-inspired camping hack that includes dryer lint stuffed inside a toilet paper roll for quick tinder. Final packing is complete.
We head for our first stop; Kirkham Hot Springs.
Kirkham Hot Springs
As the campground was closed, parking directly outside of the gate was accessible with a steady walk down the steep hill. The path will take you to a few shallow pools, initially, but if you do a little climbing, you’ll discover a bounty of deeper and hotter pools where the subzero Payette River rages the opposite side of sizable piles of rock.
Kirkham requires tough footwear, a small snack and drink for long dips. Its the perfect blend of genuine relaxation and authentic natural surroundings.
After a solid soak in the hot springs, we rush to the van to dry off and change clothes. There’s plenty of privacy within reach with curtains on every window. Normally, a concern would be that there’s no way our sopping wet bathing suits and towels will dry in a 20°F vehicle. The van warmed up quickly with the additional cabin heater that made it bearable to change and making lunch was made effortless. All our gear was tucked away in organized compartments and the wet towels hung to dry. We prepare for the next stop on our journey; Stanley, Idaho.
After a full day of snow fall, the weather begins to ease up as we pull into Stanley just at dusk. Collectively, our tummy’s are begging for a hardy dinner. We top off the tank at the gas station and head across the street to the Mountain Village restaurant for steak, hot soup, a veggie burger and a Stanley Mule.
Mountain Village Resort has private natural hot springs that flow into a man-made tub under a structure and within it, a changing room. Barn doors to close for privacy or open to view Valley Creek and the mountain range. The hot springs come free with a room at the Mountain Village Resort.
From Stanley, the road cuts through Sawtooth National Forest. This is where the curves and climbs truly begin on this adventure. Every turn revealed a picturesque landscape of sharp snow-blanketed summits and towering trees that appeared minuscule dots from our elevation. Among the flat white canvas, cascading lines drawn from an experienced sportsperson. The road ahead was full of people who took advantage of these mountain ranges with cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
The final resting place of Ernest Hemingway was our next stop; Ketchum. A small, central Idaho town seemed like a busy metropolis compared to the silent snow covered trees of our drive. This was the perfect place for fueling up on some things we started to miss like espresso and baked goods. After a little rest at Java on Fourth and meal from The Kneadery, our sights turned to a place to call our own for the night.
Riverside RV Campground
Riverside RV Campground
Just a short 20 miles from Ketchum, the Riverside RV Campground offered affordable space with electrical hook-ups. Showers, laundry and wifi are available on site and is a peaceful campground just off the main road in Bellevue.
The snow fell heavy and wet, so we were quick to build a fire in one of the designated areas to make dinner and keep warm. This was easy to do with the blistering dry wood we brought. With a hatchet, thin shavings from the logs were sliced to create kindling. Turns out, the dryer lint burned too fast in the heavy snow fall to set the logs ablaze.
Carey Hot Springs
A very secluded hot springs with no signs and if snow has recently fallen you can simply pass it up driving down the road. Which we did. About three times.
The water level was perfection for a 5'4" tall person. Just at the base of a hill, the hot spring is enclosed in sage brush and porous rock. Under the water’s surface, algae clings to the volcanic rock. The pool is wide enough for an adult to swim and the bottom is laid with smooth pebbles. This was a great place to crack open a few beers, float around and admire the entirely natural surroundings.
Now is no time to think of what you do not have.
Think of what you can do with what there is.
- Ernest Hemingway’s gravesite
Winter isn’t the season made popular by outdoor travel and camping for many regions or many people. But with a Wandervan, it’s adventure no matter the weather, made accessible with people you love and making memories with them through the miles.