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Idaho Hot Springs

Idaho Hot Springs

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.


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. 

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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. 

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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. 

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

Recommended Stay: 3 to 4 days

Distance from Boise 170 miles/Drive Time: 3 hours

Trip Cost Estimate: $375 to $675

Craters of the Moon is a lunar landscape dropped in the middle of Idaho. Craters of the Moon is currently a National Monument and we hope to see it designated as Idaho's first National Park in the near future. Craters of the Moon erupted between 14,000 and 2,000 years ago and is one of the youngest lava flows in the lower 48 states. The landscape looks very lunar from a distance and is even harsher when you get up close and personal. Hiking in the park is easiest on established trails near the park entrance or there are some old roads in the southern portions of park that are an excellent way to get away from the crowds. 

The only official campervan campground is right off of Hwy 20 at the main park entrance and is called the Lava Flow Campground. Spots are limited so reservations are defiantly recommended. The campervan campground is right in the middle of the Lava Flow which can be fun for kids to play on, but sections can be very sharp.

Hiking Suggestions:

1) Tree Molds Trail- The Tree Molds hike is 2 miles long and has some amazing scenery as you will get to witness the locations of trees as they were encased by the lava flows. Make sure to stay on the trail since it is easy to get lost in the flows. Here is a map with more information.

2) Broken Top Trail:  This trail is one of the most spectacular trails in the park and as you hike its 2 miles length you will experiance all of the different types of lava flows. Check out this map for some extra details. There are a number of caves along this trail, but you are required to get a permit at the visitors center before entering them so make sure to due this when you enter the park.


Campervans available for rent in Boise, ID and Salt Lake City, UT.