This is the last post about our trip to Idaho in early October.

Pausing by the shores of the Payette River

By the time we left Burgdorf Hot Springs we were pretty impressed with Idaho. The place is beautiful. And as we headed into our last couple of nights, it got even better.

We were traveling south again, down from McCall and then making our way east on Highway 21 towards the town of Stanley and on to Redfish Lake Lodge in the Sawtooth Mountains. I had booked online and squeaked us in to one of their last cabins, in the last week of their season. We drove through the Boise National Forest, gaining in elevation. The scenery was standard stuff until I saw the bear. “Where!!?” piped Natalie, keen for the lookout. It was just a little guy hanging out by the side of the road. I stepped on the brakes, backed up, and it ran up the hill and hid behind a tree. Maybe that was all standard stuff too but it was pretty cute.

A bear cub hides behind a tree

The Redfish Lake Lodge sits on the shores of its namesake with a gorgeous view of the aptly names Sawtooth mountains. It’s a proper old lodge, built in 1929 out of solid logs. There’s a restaurant, a bar, a dock, a collection of cabins and a veranda with big comfortable chairs for sitting outside and taking in the view, old-school style. When we arrived to check in they offered to upgrade us for $40 more a night. So we made ourselves at home in the plush cabin (quite a step up from our previous night’s digs) right on the shore of lake.

Our antlerific cabin at Redfish Lake Lodge.

We kept expecting a Sunset magazine photographer to burst in at any moment.

The chipmunks were brazen in their snack collecting. Natalie reaches for an errant chip.

Deer so tame you can almost hold them in your hand.

Not to far from Stanley a graded dirt road took us to the ghost towns of Bonanza and Custer. Bonanza offered a few old buildings and a cemetery but Columbus felt a little more like a town. We passed some interesting mining equipment on the way: an old excavator and a huge dredging barge. The rest of the valley floor was covered with piles of stones, tailings I imagine, and cut through with clearest, aqua-colored trout streams that I’ve ever seen.

A five-stamp mill, once used for processing ore, in the ghost town of Custer.

An old excavator near Custer

Vintage treads

On the way back from the ghost towns we spotted what we’d heard we’d see in this part of the country: hot springs bubbling up by the side of the road. We stopped to investigate. I learned that they don’t call them hot springs for nothing. I tested the sulfur-laden water with my hand and found it was almost too hot to touch. And, of course, I tested it a little further downhill from the source. Same thing. Natalie looked at me as if to say (or maybe she did say), “Duh, whadya expect?” Where the lava-like water crossed under the road and poured into the cold river, however, things were different. There we found a nicely blended spot and sat for an impromptu soak.

A hot spring flowing out of the ground by the side of Hwy 75.

We go for an impromptu soak.

We spent that evening sitting on the veranda drinking drinking hot toddies, taking in the views and recounting our few days in the beautiful gem state. What a nice place…

Thanks, Idaho!