Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Indian Rocks State Park Mystery


   Dispersed camping on public land is almost always our first choice even if it’s just for one night. However finding a good spot isn’t always easy. First I check my favorite camping websites and if that yields nothing I start looking on Google satellite view and the Public Lands website.  Public Lands is a really good site because it shows all of the different types of public land in the western states.


  We want to camp north of McCammon, Idaho and Public Lands shows a swath of BLM on either side of the interstate. That’ll will do just fine if I can find an access road.                         


  Clicking off the Land Status coloration and zooming in makes it easier to see a small access road to the west of I-15 off of Merrill Road, near McCammon. It also shows Indian Rocks State Park. What?? A quick check on the Idaho State Parks site comes up blank. A Google search reveals little. Hmm, we’ll see what’s up when we get there.


  Here’s the access road entrance with carefully constructed rock pillars. Note the brown BLM post.


   Here’s what we found 1/2 mile down the road. Petroglyphs!

IMG_6614 IMG_6623

  We stopped for the night at the rocks and didn’t drive any farther down the road but Google satellite view shows the faint outlines of campsites branching off a loop road just 1/2 mile away from our boondock spot.


  My curious is piqued now.  The second page of a Google search gives me a good hit – a newspaper article from October 1973.

About two weeks of brisk-night camping remain for you to enjoy Indian Rocks State Park, off Interstate 15 just 20 miles south of Pocatello, at the Lava Hot Springs-McCammon exit. The park has been operated this summer by four Idaho State University students in recreation management.  …….  There are a total of 51 campsites, including 20 with trailer' recreational vehicle hookups; a sanitary dump station, and modern rest rooms complete with hot water showers. The campground fee, unfortunately, is fairly stiff: $3 a night for in-staters and $4 for out-of-staters, plus 50 cents for electricity and water hookups. There have been rumors, however, the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department will lower the fees for next summer.

  Wow, electric hookups, hot showers, and a dump station for $4.50!

  That solves the mystery to some extent. There was a state park and campground but why was it closed? In fact why was it here in the first place? It’s just a patch of high desert without trails or attractions other than the small pile of rocks covered with petroglyphs. And why does it still show up on Google maps?

  So after all that how was our boondock site? :-D We would definitely stay for one night again but probably not longer. Its a little too close to the interstate and there are better options not far away.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bannock County Historical Museum & Fort Hall Replica


  The admission price includes a small museum, a reconstructed old town, and a reconstructed fort. The museum is typical for a small town with several rooms of donated artifacts and a brief history of the area. The old town appears to be an idea that never took off as planned. Small scale buildings line both sides of a gravel street. Visitors can walk along the boardwalk sidewalks and peek in the windows at the rather meager displays inside. The best part of the town are all of the little people made from rusty pieces of metal.


  The reconstructed fort is much more interesting. We were given a guided tour by a young man dressed in period clothing and learned a few new facts about life in the west. The fort was built as trading post for the fur trappers and Native Americans, and later served as a supply center for people following the westward trails. The reconstructed fort is located about 30 miles south of the original fort.



  The museum is accessible. The pathway to the old town is very rough and the street is surfaced with large gravel. The fort courtyard is also surfaced with large gravel so neither the town or the fort is accessible without assistance. The upper level of one of the fort buildings which has historical displays is accessed by stairs only.

   The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Museum  42.84377, -112.41894


Idaho Museum of Natural History


  The museum features changing exhibits. Dinosaurs and wildfires were the main focus when we visited. Neither exhibit was impressive but the wildfire exhibit was very detailed and covered all aspects including the role of small fires in keeping the land healthy, the destruction caused by out of control fires, and the methods for bringing the land back to a proper balance.


   The museum is accessible.

   Free parking is available at General Parking Lot 01 near the museum. We parked in the extra long handicapped spaces in front of the museum which are long enough for a 25’ RV.   Museum  42.85986, -112.43359


Monday, August 28, 2017

Museum of Clean


  Why would anyone make a museum of clean? And why would anyone go to a museum of clean?  The whole thing sounded pretty weird so we had to go and see for ourselves.  Surprise – it’s actually a fun museum!


                                                          Click to read the words – funny!


   Don Aslet, who founded the museum, started a house cleaning company while he was in college.  It’s grown into a large multi-million dollar business specializing in cleaning commercial buildings.  Aslet has a great sense of humor and the company has yearly contests for employees who built go carts and sculptures using cleaning equipment. The sculptures are displayed in the museum along with hundreds of vacuum cleaners, washing machines, cleaning supplies, and anything else that pertains to clean living. Large areas are set aside for kids to explore with many hands-on exhibits.


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  The coolest vacuum cleaner is a 1900s horse drawn contraption used in Great Britain. The mechanical part is original but the wagon is a reconstruction.


  Visitors can join a guided tour or wander around on their own. Each family group receives a free book.


   Everything except for the Kid’s Plant and the second floor of Noah’s Ark is accessible.


   The parking lot is large enough for any RV.   Museum  42.85965, -112.44118


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Idaho Potato Museum


  Idaho, with a perfect climate of hot days and cool night plus rich volcanic soil, grows more potatoes than any other state.  It only stands to reason that the state would have a museum dedicated to potatoes and of course we had to go see it. :-D The museum begins with exhibits on potato cultivation in South America and quickly moves on to the Idaho potato industry. Don’t miss the world’s largest Pringles potato chip!




                     Out of state visitors get free potatoes!


  The museum is accessible but entry is a bit awkward because of the rough patch of concrete right in front of the door.  A steep ramp accesses the room with processing equipment. To avoid the ramp use the passageway by the restrooms. A kids hands-on area is accessed by a steps only.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Museum  43.18979, -112.34326


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Idaho Falls Greenbelt Trail


   The trail follows along both sides of the Snake River through the downtown section of Idaho Falls. Good views of the falls, which is created by a low dam built for a hydro electric plant, can be seen from trail. We preferred the trail on the western side of the river because there’s not as much traffic on the street that runs parallel to the trail.


  The trail is wide, paved, and mostly level. The Japanese Friendship Garden has steps and is not totally accessible.


  RVs can be parked on River Parkway near the falls.  Trail  43.49416, -112.04501


Idaho Falls Zoo


  Small mammals and birds are the predominate animals in this compact zoo. Large animals include camels, zebras, and cats. The zoo is nicely maintained with large trees and plenty of shade.


 IMG_6513a IMG_6517

  The zoo is built on a hillside so most of the paths have a up or down slope. Wheelchair users may need assistance. Most of the enclosures have viewing windows or open fencing for easy visual access.

  The parking lot is small. RVs should be parked along the road or in one of the lots in the adjacent city park.  Zoo  43.47214, -112.04111


Friday, August 25, 2017

Museum of Idaho


  The museum opened in 1985 utilizing a vacant 1916 Carnegie Library building. In 2003 a newly constructed building, which connects to the library building, tripled the size of the museum. The addition houses traveling exhibits while the library building focuses on local history with permanent and changing exhibits. The traveling exhibit during our visit was Space: A Journey to our Future. We were a little disappointed in the local history exhibits as they do not explore any subject in depth and gloss over the problems encountered at the Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear research center, west of the city. The best part of the history section is a recreated street of storefronts filled with interestingly arranged artifacts.


  The museum is accessible but the layout is little confusing. The entrance is in the new building. We wanted to see the history exhibits first which involved going through the space exhibit and down a long ramp into the old library building. To get to the second floor of the history exhibits it’s necessary to go back up the ramp, back through the space exhibit, up the elevator, and then down another ramp (which is hard to find) to the second floor of the old library building.

  We parked in the lot behind the small museum lot which might be shared with the Methodist Church. There are no signs indicating ownership. Parking is also available on the street.   Museum  43.49073, -112.0374