On The Road Idaho!

"… somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me." – Kerouac

September 13, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

Lake Cleveland: A Teardrop in the Clouds

High above Lake Cleveland near Albion, ID

High above Lake Cleveland near Albion, ID

A tiny alpine lake surrounded by rock walls and craggy pine, Lake Cleveland in the Albion Mountain Range is peaceful and inviting for a dip, a paddle, or a fishing lure, and a magnet for outdoor fun in summer.

My wife and I brought our canoe along on a recent day trip, and though it would have been easy to simply walk the edge of the lake to find a private spot to swim and lounge about, it was fun to paddle to our shady hideaway and float our canoe around the lake.

The high walls surrounding the small lake make it something like a cathedral. And the cool, clear water is very inviting – shockingly cold at first, then a balm in the summer heat.

The fishing is good, or just swim, lounge and watch the day go by.

Lake Cleveland was so named for late president Grover Cleveland when he lost the 1888 presidential election to Benjamin Harrison whose name, in triumph, went to the towering Mount Harrison nearby (Cleveland would go on to regain the presidency after Harrison’s one term – the only president with non-consecutive terms in US history).

Mt. Harrison, at 9,285 ft, is in fact just a short drive up the slope from Lake Cleveland and well worth a visit. There’s a fire tower at the peak and gated platforms great for taking in the vista of wide-open Idaho below. The peak is famed for the 1945 air disaster when a B-24 crash claimed the lives of nine servicemen.

For more information about Lake Cleveland and the City of Rocks Scenic Byway, lodging, or planning a trip, go to visitsouthidaho.com

Getting There
Lake Cleveland and Mount Harrison are one of many stops on the City of Rocks Scenic Byway – a lovely drive through farm, ranch and mountain terrain in a loop around the Albion Mountains. To get to Lake Cleveland, travel south from the Declo/Albion exit of I-84 (#216) through the town of Albion, and follow signs to Pomerelle Ski Resort. Turn right at the entrance to Pomerelle and follow signs to Lake Cleveland.

Read what my wife, Times-News Editor Autumn Agar, wrote about our trip in her recent blog: Climb to Escape Idaho Enemy #1

Or watch a Scenic Video of Lake ClevelandCanoeing Lake Cleveland


6WEB by producer Andy Vawser

September 9, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

The Daredevils of the Snake River Canyon

The daredevil BASE jumpers of the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, ID enjoy the only year-round, legal access to launch from a man-made object, the 500-foot-high Perrine Memorial Bridge. It’s an exciting spot to stop and take it all in!

For information about other spots for exciting outdoor adventures in Southern Idaho, go to VisitSouthIdaho.com.

August 20, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

Fair Time in Southern Idaho

Rodeo buckin' bronco rider

The buckin’ bronco action will have you holding on to your own seat at any of the many Southern Idaho country fairs

Rodeo fans

Fans take in the action at the Jerome County Fair in 2013

Corndogs. Elephant ears. Deep-fried cheese blocks.

It’s one of those special times of year to throw caution to the wind and go local at one of the many fun and folksy county fairs, rodeos and events this Southern Idaho summer.

Idaho fairs are a rich tradition in this mostly agricultural region – a place where friends meet each year, where young 4H members and future farmers share their skills, where craftsmen from woodworkers to quilters and photographers can show off their wares, and where you might try your hand at winning a kewpie doll for your best gal.

Ride a gut-wrenching carnival ride, watch a fun sideshow, and of course don’t miss the rodeo – some of the best in the country – everything from hilarious mutton-busting youngsters, to professional bull and bronco riders, roping, trick riders and hilarious clowns and shows.

Twin Falls County Fair goes up on August 28, and for information about the many other fairs and summer events as well as outdoor activities and lodging all across Southern Idaho, go to www.visitsouthidaho.com.

A young trick rider, one of many acts typical of Southern Idaho fairs and festivals, carries "Old Glory" proudly in the rodeo ring

A young trick rider, one of many acts typical of Southern Idaho fairs and festivals, carries “Old Glory” proudly in the rodeo ring

Buckin' bronco rider

PRCA Rodeo stars light up the night at the many Southern Idaho fairs and festivals.

August 20, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

Wheel Men Eat Quiche in Southern Idaho

Idaho cyclists climbing a hill

Members of the Magic Valley Chaingang cycling group charge a hill south of Twin Falls, Idaho on a recent ride

Show up to a group or “shop” road cycling event and you’ll spot the hierarchy instantly.

There are the beasts: long and thin, sunken cheeks, legs taut bundles of muscle, and high-tech, carbon fiber bicycles that look like something out of a sci-fi movie – they’ll be taking off at 25 miles-per-hour when they hit the road.

Then there are the ones who take it seriously but are more “regular-shaped,” maybe even a few paunches, on down to the never-ever with baggie shorts and beach cruisers.

But whatever your riding ability, you can find fellow riders at your level among the many cycling groups in Southern Idaho. And if you’re a visitor in training for an event, or are just looking to get out and see some unique Idaho countryside, connecting with a group is a great way to dial in with new people.

Take the Magic Valley ChainGang, perhaps the most accessible group in the area, with all levels of riders and a fun, inclusive vibe to each meeting. The ChainGang meets at the homes of different members every Tuesday evening at 6:30 all through the summer (earlier in spring and fall when the sun sets earlier and the group is just a handful of die-hards). To get involved, you must sign up on Yahoo! User groups (see below).

Routes vary. It can get a little windy, especially in the spring, and while much of the area is flat, or with low rolling hills, there are some great steeps to climb, including the road up to Magic Mountain Ski Resort along Rock Creek Canyon – a four-percent grade of a climb and a great training ground.

Can’t get with a group? You still don’t have to go alone. Sign up for Map My Ride or Strava, two very useful smartpone apps that lay out the route for you. Riders can log-in and find rides that others have done in the area, and even race with other riders on certain stretches. Lots of great opportunites, and for more information, check out these links below or go to www.visitsouthidaho.com for all the info you need to explore and enjoy the wilds of Southern Idaho.

Magic Valley Chaingang
Meets every Tuesday 6:30 p.m. from spring through fall. Find the Magic Valley Chaingang on Facebook or join their Yahoo! User Group for updates.

Southern Idaho Bike Shops
Or contact area bike retailers for other popular “shop rides” and group rides.

August 20, 2013
by ontheroadidaho
1 Comment

Magic Valley Beer Festival

Barking Owls Bluegrass Band

Magic Valley’s own, the Barking Owls bluegrass band headlined the 2012 and 2013 MV Beer Festival

Brewer serving tasting-size beer

Brewers from all over the Northwest were on hand for the second annual event

The Magic Valley Beer Festival in Twin Falls is a one-day event with great food, local bands, and of some of the finest regional craft beers to sample. The 2nd Annual Beer Festival on Aug. 3, 2013 saw over 40 brewers and 100 varieties of beer, attracting a crowd from all across the region.

It’s just the kind of event that draws visitors from all across the region. Go to www.visitsouthidaho.com for a comprehensive list.

For just $30 at the gate ($25 in advance), guests received a commemorative mug and drink tickets to exchange for short pours of beer from myriad craft brewers – everything from IPAs to German-style Weissbier.

It was an event born in 2012 as a fundraiser for the Blue Lakes Rotary Club in Twin Falls, and over just the first two years organizers have raised nearly $30,000 for local charities, including a new playground in South Estates near Twin Falls.

It’s also a venue for local bands, the headliner both years the Barking Owls, a Magic Valley bluegrass band that’s really on the rise.

Read what Magic Valley beer blogger Steve Koonce had to say about the day at Idaho on Tap.

So mark your calendar for next year’s event, Aug. 2, 2014, and come raise a glass with us.

And go to www.visitsouthidaho.com for more exciting events, and places to stay and play in Southern Idaho.

Revelers at the Magic Valley Beer Festival 2013

Beer fans from all over the region descended on Twin Falls City Park for a day of music, food, beer and fun

Brewer serving beer at MV Beer Festival

Specialty beers from all across the region were the feature at the Second Annual Magic Valley Beer Festival

July 8, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

Idaho South Hills Cycling

Just south of Twin Falls toward Nevada find the rugged South Hills, home to some of the best mountain biking in the region. Best is the recently developed web of trails in and around Indian Springs directly south of Kimberly – about a 20-minute drive from I-84 – the result of hard work and cooperation between members of the Southern Idaho Mountain Biking Association (SIMBA) and the Bureau of Land Management.

Indian Springs and the South Hills is wide-open sagebrush country, rocky and dry, with twisting tracks through high hills, down rugged gulches and along dry riverbeds. You’ll run into big herds or free range cattle, lots of deer and pronghorns, maybe a snake or two, or even a bobcat, moose if you climb high enough, or even mountain lion.

The single-track routes of Indian Springs are challenging, so if you’re brand new to mountain biking it’s best to build your balance and skills on fire roads or more beginner tracks, such as Auger Falls near Twin Falls.

Start at the Indian Springs parking area, just a half-mile drive on a dirt track south of the last paved road in the foothills. From there, an inviting single track trail, Sweet and Low, leads you to Dry Gulch, the gateway to a dynamic web of mountain bike trails.

It’s best to pick up a detailed map produced by SIMBA ($3) at an area bike dealer. Try Spoke and Wheel Bike Shop on Addison in Twin Falls – spokeandwheelbike.com/

And for more about cycling in Southern Idaho, go to www.visitsouthidaho.com.

July 2, 2013
by ontheroadidaho
1 Comment

Hummingbird Heaven!

They move fast, dodging, darting, hovering, and trilling their high whistles and coos. Hummingbirds provoke wonder wherever they go, if only in the fleeting nature of their visit, their magical blessing of a moment’s dip into a backyard feeder before zipping off to the next flower. But if you want a unique opportunity to study scores of hummingbirds in all shapes and sizes, a trip to Brockman’s Hummingbird Feeding Station high in the South Hills of Southern Idaho is a treat.

Just 20 miles south of I-84 near Twin Falls and up Rock Creek Canyon, turn right as you arrive at Magic Mountain Ski Resort and follow the summer-only Rogerson Road nine miles to the Shoshone Basin (see Idaho Fish and Game map below).

The drive alone is worth it, the dirt road easy enough in most any vehicle, but best with a four-wheel drive. It’s a great area for wildlife spotting, including beavers hard at work, songbirds and birds of prey, and you might even spy a moose if you get there early in the morning.

I dropped in to Brockman’s Hummingbird Feeding Station on a late Sunday afternoon. It’s just a small stand of pines along Shoshone Creek just beyond the wildlife viewing ponds of Shoshone Basin. The fence and narrow turn-out for Brockman’s was hard to miss (and right at 9 miles of dirt driving from the right turn off Rock Creek Road), and after seeing not another car on the nine mile trip, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Dianna Wubker, a landscape and wildlife photographer, and her family there to watch the hummingbirds. We had a good chat, and we all sat on the built-in benches to meditatively watch the hummingbird show – complete with “oohs” and “aahs” typical of a July Fourth fireworks show.

Wubker is a regular in the backcountry of Idaho and well-versed in the Shoshone Basin area. She said that the hummingbird traffic at the feeders was particularly light the day we were there, but it was fascinating to watch the birds swoop in in waves, sometimes fighting one another for turf or alternating with one another at a feeder.

The best part about the site is that the birds seem very used to their human visitors, making it very easy to stand quietly and observe their goings-on up close.

On the ride back, I stopped to watch a beaver at work in one of the tiered ponds leading to the basin, and the trip was as much a recon mission for more wildlife viewing to come.

For information about Brockman’s Hummingbird Feeding Station, read up at Idaho Fish and Game’s “Idaho Birding Trail” site – very comprehensive.

And for more information about where to stay and play in Southern Idaho, including great deals on lodging, go to visitsouthidaho.com.

Map to Brockman's Feeding Station from Idaho Fish and Gave.

A map to Brockman’s Feeding Station from Idaho Fish and Game.

June 25, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

Paddling the Snake River – Hagerman, Idaho

Friends told me that the Hagerman stretch of the Snake is no big deal — just a few riffles and mostly flat and languid —  so I dusted off my old hard shell whitewater kayak for what I thought would be a lazy day on the river. A few years ago I was a proficient whitewater boater, comfortable in the likes of technical Class IV rapids, but it’s been a while since I put on a spray-skirt and peeled out into moving water, and I was in for a surprise on the Snake.

Our group of 11 paddlers met at River and Adventure Toys, an outdoor store in downtown Twin Falls. Dennis Pettygrove, the store owner, was our leader, and we saddled up with two rafts, one “duckie,” or inflatable kayak, and me in my old hard shell.

The drive out to Hagerman was stunning, passing farmland lush and green thanks to the ever-spitting irrigation pivots, through the little picturesque burgs of Filer and Buhl, and in sight of the gushing falls at Thousand Springs — such a colorful part of the Magic Valley and a delightful drive as we followed the Snake.

Once at the put-in, we saddled up with our massive cooler of snacks and drinks, ran extra vehicles to the take-out, then pushed out for the first of two runs on a warm, sunny day.

I paddled into the first rapids cavalierly carrying my waterproof flip camera in my teeth, hoping to grab some action video of the group, but the first big wave train nearly swamped me, and I handed off the camera to the rafters to ready myself for the next rapid, named “Swim Rapid” because so many are knocked out of their boats. It was in Swim that I hit a wave wrong and my kayak penciled into the foam. I found myself upside-down gulping water, but thanks to old instincts I was able to roll back up and stay in my boat.  Not deadly dangerous by any means, but these rapids will get your attention, and I had a ball on the next few fun drops.

The end of the Hagerman stretch takes you in sight of a Frank Lloyd Wright studio build for the Idaho author Vardis Fisher, a unique triangulated edifice poking out over the river. Then there is a scenic flat section great for swimming. We rushed back to the put-in for a second lap, and ended our day in the cool summer dusk swapping stories on tailgates and closer friends for the experience.

First-timers will want to arrange a guide, but River and Adventure Toys in Twin Falls (www.riverrattwinfalls.com, Tel. 208.735.8697) is a good place to start, and a day on the Snake is one to remember.

June 23, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

U-Pick at Tubbs Berry Farm

Twin Falls, ID — Set among the large-scale farming operations that make the Magic Valley what it is, find little Tubbs Berry Farm, where Kirk and Heidi Tubbs run a pick-your-own berry operation, farm school, and apiary store and classroom. If you want to learn a little about self-sufficiency and where your food comes from, this is a great off-the-beaten-track stop. Kirk and Heidi are friendly and knowledgeable, hold engaging classes on soap making, beekeeping, and farming, and it’s a place where the kids can really get their hands dirty out in the fields (most you-pick operations don’t allow kids).

It’s best to call or contact them through their website and see what they’ve got going. A great way to get outside for a fun and informative day: (208) 961-0969, www.tubbsberryfarm.com

From KMVT.com: Bee Day in Twin Falls

From the Times News: Bees Brave Cold for Summer Honey

Times-News Column: Beekeeping – Go Home and Make Your Own Mistakes

June 22, 2013
by ontheroadidaho

Big Bad Boats in Burley!

The Idaho Regatta in Burley is on! All this weekend (June 22 and 23), boat racers are going neck and neck on a short course on the Snake River in the heart of Burley.

It’s fast, noisy, and exciting, and makes for a great family-friendly day out on the river.

Race classes include K Racing Runabouts, Super Stocks, Pro Stocks, Crackerboxes, Sportsman E, Comp Jets, Grand Nationals, 1 Litre Hydroplanes, 2.5 Litre Hydroplanes, as well as amateur classes of antique and jet boat racers.

A weekend pass is $45, day passes are $25, and children under 12 are free with a paying adult. For information, visit www.idahoregatta.org.

The event is held every year in the end of June, so if you can’t make this weekend, mark your calendar for 2014!