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Month Sixty Three was almost entirely spent on the road, and it was fabulous!
On the first day of the month, we left to do our (mostly) Idaho Road Trip, with an overnight stop in Steamboat Springs in Colorado, and three nights visiting my brother in law in Salt Lake City.
We then spent two weeks traveling through southern Idaho, and absolutely falling for this beautiful state.
I will go into the highlights in more detail below but I loved all the hot springs, mountain towns, lake hikes, waterfalls, craft beer and more in Idaho. This state is highly underrated and I can’t wait to return to see even more in the future.
After two weeks in Idaho, we popped into Montana for a night to visit three excellent ghost towns – Bannack, Virginia City and Nevada City, then into Wyoming to spend three days in Grand Teton National Park, which was a definite highlight of our whole road trip.
From Wyoming we headed back into Colorado, where we dropped by Steamboat Springs for a hike and lunch, then to Hot Sulphur Springs for a hot springs soak.
After driving the scenic County Road 55 for fall colors and doing a hike near Winter Park, we got back to Denver for the last couple of days of the month.
Now onto the stats.
Countries Visited: USA
- Colorado: Steamboat Springs, Hot Sulphur Springs, Winter Park, Empire, Denver, Aurora
- Utah: Midway, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Garden City
- Idaho: Maple Grove, Chesterfield, Lava Hot Springs, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Boise, Stanley, Ketchum, Sun Valley, Salmon
- Montana: Bannack, Nevada City, Virginia City
- Wyoming: Jackson, Teton Village, Riverton
National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Grand Teton National Park, Thousand Falls State Park, Sawtooth Wilderness.
Islands Visited: Ritter Island in Idaho.
Best Meals: Liege waffle with cookie butter, fresh cream and strawberries in Lava Hot Springs, smoked chicken with coconut shrimp, spinach and sweet potato at Toby’s friend Mike’s place in Boise, Vegetarian Banh Mi from Lemon Tree Co. in Boise, Chicken fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and broccolini from Sidewinders American Grill in Jackson, Jerk chicken and sides from Marcia and Joe’s Kitchen in Steamboat Springs, Detroit style pizza from original Hard Rock Cafe in Empire.
Worst Meals: Pulled chicken sandwich from Moe’s BBQ in Jackson.
Best Craft Beer: Vanilla Nut Cream Ale and Blackberry Sour from Kiitos Brewing in Salt Lake City, Strawberry Crush sour at 10 Barrel Brewing Co in Boise, Huckleberry Cream Ale by Laughing Dog Brewing in Ponderay, Guava Kettle Sour from Storm Peak Brewing Company in Steamboat Springs.
- Bell Canyon trail to Lower Falls near Salt Lake City, UT 8km/5 miles
- Lake Blanche trail with Lake Florence and Lake Lillian near Salt Lake City, UT 12.5km/7.8 miles
- Green belt trail in Boise, ID 8km/5 miles
- Camel’s Back Park loop trail in Boise, ID 4.8km/3 miles
- Edith Lake, Toxaway Lake and Farley Lake loop in Sawtooth Wilderness, ID 34km/21miles
- Alice Lake and Twin Lakes trail in Sawtooth Wilderness, ID 23km/14.5 miles
- Goat Lake trail near Stanley, ID 14.5km/9 miles
- Goldbug Hot Springs trail near Salmon, ID 7km/4.4 miles
- Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake trail in Grand Teton National Park, WY 9.7km/6 miles
- Garnet Canyon trail in Grand Teton National Park, WY 15.3km/9.5 miles
- Cascade Canyon trail and Jenny Lakeshore in Grand Teton National Park, WY 19.3km/12 miles
- Fish Creek Falls trail in Steamboat Springs, CO 7.7km/4.8 miles
- Second Creek to Broome Hut and Twin Cones near Winter Park, CO 8km/5 miles
- Clear Creek trail section in Wheat Ridge, CO 8km/5 miles
- Toll Gate Creek trail in Aurora, CO 8.9km/5.5 miles
Watching: American Horror Story: 1984 (one of the best yet)
Reading: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (1000% recommend this book!)
Posts Published on The World on my Necklace This Month:
Ultimate Offbeat Summer in Sydney Bucketlist
I completely reworked, updated and added to this post about the best off the beaten path bucket list things to in Sydney in summer. Including one secret spot that I haven’t shared until now.
10 Best Off the Beaten Path South America Highlights
I updated and added more information to this post about my favorite off the beaten path highlights from the four months I spent in South America.
Hot Spring Hopping in Colorado and Idaho
I love hot springs, particularly natural ones, and we went to so many amazing hot springs this month in Colorado and Idaho.
My absolute favorites were Kirkham Hot Springs in Idaho with a hot waterfall and different pools by the river, Mystic Hot Springs which is set in a gorgeous river valley in Idaho, Goldbug Hot Springs with waterfall pools that you have to hike up to, and rustic Hot Sulphur Springs in Colorado with 23 pools of different temperatures.
Kayaking to Pillar Falls in Idaho
Kayaking is not something I have done a lot of in the past, but our half day kayaking from Centennial Park in Twin Falls up to Pillar Falls was a massive highlight for me, and I was surprised at how easy it was as I don’t usually have much upper arm strength.
We were staying with Toby’s cousin Keefe and his girlfriend April, and they treated us to this amazing experience. Kayaking on the Snake River at the bottom of a steep canyon was fantastic, but when April and I reached Pillar Falls – it got 100 times better (the boys didn’t make it to the falls).
We climbed all ovre the falls and swam in the pools, I could have stayed there all day! Next time I want to kayak all the way to Shoshone Falls further up river.
Waterfall Chasing in Idaho
There are so many incredible waterfalls around the town of Twin Falls in southern Idaho. Along with Pillar Falls, we also visited the magnificent Shoshone Falls, the waterfalls and super clear natural springs of Ritter Island in Thousand Falls State Park, the town’s namesake Twin Falls, and Perrine Coulee Waterfall in Centennial Park, which you can walk behind.
If you are a waterfall lover – don’t miss visiting Twin Falls and the surrounding area.
Some More Great Wildlife Spots This Month
Along with the pikas, squirrels and marmots I have been seeing a lot of during my Rocky Mountain hikes, I was also so lucky to see multiple moose – in Utah and Wyoming, as well as two bears and three bear cubs over a couple of different sightings in Grand Teton.
But my favorite wildlife spot of the month was when I got up close to a curious fox which was a beautiful mix of silver and red, and just sat beside the trail watching me for a couple of minutes. Magical!
Exploring Some Amazing Ghost Towns
Another focus of our road trip was to visit as many ghost towns as we could, and I ended up going to four – Chesterfield in Idaho, and Bannack, Virginia City and Nevada City in Montana.
All four were really interesting, and I enjoyed finding out about their histories, looking through the old buildings, and taking lots of photos. The ghost towns of the west really are incredible!
Backpacking Between Lakes in Idaho
Although we didn’t get to complete the full Alice-Toxaway loop because Toby got sick, I still really enjoyed hiking the loop to Edith Lake, Toxaway Lake and Farley Lake over three leisurely days.
The lakes in the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho are beautiful, and I swam in all three of them – they were definitely warmer than the lakes in the Colorado mountains although still VERY refreshing.
I particularly loved Edith Lake and our camping spot there. We had the lake to ourselves for hours, while the other lakes were more crowded.
Incredible Alice Lake
As we didn’t make it over to Alice Lake on our backpacking trip, I decided to hike there, and to Twin Lakes, on a long day hike. It was nearly 15 miles, which is one of the longest day hikes I have ever done, and I absolutely killed it.
I loved the hike, I felt great, the lakes were so pretty, and I saw a beautiful silver/red fox right by the trail on the way back from Twin Lakes. The beauty of Idaho just continually blew me away when we were in the mountains.
A Rustic Cabin Stay in Lovely Ketchum
We were really lucky to stay in a friend’s parent’s cabin in Ketchum, and it was so rustic and exactly the kind of cabin I love. After our backpacking trip it was so nice to cook meals and watch videos at the cabin, wander around town, and just relax.
Loving Progressive Boise
Boise was a great surprise, and it reminded me a lot of Denver – just smaller. Street art, breweries, lots of green spaces and walking trails, great restaurants – this is Boise and we loved it.
Hiking Around Grand Teton National Park
Although I had technically been to Grand Teton National Park before, we had only really driven through because the weather was bad, so this time we spent three full days there and it was wonderful – despite the crowds and the smoke.
I did three great hikes to beautiful lakes, canyons, and viewpoints, and saw three moose, and five bears during my time in the park.
Fall Colors in Northern Colorado
Fall in Colorado is my favorite time of year, so I was happy to catch the beginning of the season when we traveled through Steamboat Springs, Hot Sulphur Springs and Winter Park in Northern Colorado.
We drove County Road 55, a dirt road between Hot Sulphur Springs and Tabernash, that had spectacular fall colors, and the cottonwood trees around Hot Sulphur Springs were at peak color when we were there.
A Boozy Family Brunch in Denver
I felt terrible the next day, but the very boozy brunch/all day drinking session we had with Toby’s cousins and brother and sister-in-law was so much fun, and something we try to do at least once a year. Because of COVID we haven’t seen the family as much this year as we usually would so it was great to catch up.
Overnight in an Abandoned Ghost Town
We hadn’t planned to spend the night in Chesterfield Ghost Town, but we didn’t find anywhere to stay overnight on the way and we got there late so despite it being super creepy, we slept outside a log building off the road right in the town.
I’m putting this as a lowlight because I am a scaredy cat, and I barely slept because I freaked out at every noise I heard. Luckily it didn’t look so scary in the morning, and I really enjoyed walking around and exploring this abandoned old farming town.
Not Finishing our Backpacking Trip in Idaho
Although it was still a great backpacking trip, I was bummed that we weren’t able to do the full loop we had planned when Toby started overheating and throwing up. I had been most looking forward to getting to Alice Lake, but Toby didn’t think he could make it over the pass to get there and I didn’t want to do it by myself, so we had to cut our losses and go back the way we came.
I admit that I was a bit of an asshole about it because I was disappointed, and not as concerned about my husband’s health as I should have been. We don’t know what was causing him to be sick but thankfully he hasn’t had any further issues since.
Smoky Skies on our Road Trip
We just couldn’t fully escape the smoke from the fires lighting up the west on our road trip – pretty much the theme of this whole summer. Sometimes we would get away from the smoke for a couple of days, only to run into it again soon after.
It was particularly bad for the last two days we were in Grand Tetons and during our time in Northern Colorado – you could taste it and it obscured our view when we were hiking.
Phone Died for Good
I got the screen of death on my phone while we were at Hot Sulphur Springs, so I ordered a new one, which I didn’t get for another week.
I did need a new phone, but it was inconvenient to not have a phone for a week, and setting up the new one was time consuming when I was already in a time crunch to catch up on work and finish our taxes.
Massive Crowds in Jackson
Wow, was Jackson crowded! Unfortunately our time there fell over a weekend so it was probably worse than it would have been otherwise. I felt uncomfortable with the crush of people around town, especially as so many people weren’t wearing masks, and it was always a 30 minute plus wait whenever we went to a restaurant or brewery.
I think that, like us, a lot of people are choosing to do road trips this year, and the National Parks are a hot destination for roadtrippers.
Disappointing Homestead Crater Hot Springs
I loved the sound of this unique hot springs, which are set within a natural crater. Unfortunately, rather than just leaving this incredible hot spring as it is, they have built it up, put a big, bright spotlight in there, and then make everyone wear life vests – which really took away from the experience for me. I wish we hadn’t bothered.
A lot of these costs are my half with Toby paying the other half. I also don’t include international flights in my recaps.
Not bad at all considering I was traveling nearly the whole month and I had to buy a new phone as well. Like usual, I spent nearly half of this on food, groceries and beer, but we did eat out a lot as we were on the road.
My paid accommodation this month consisted of 8 nights in motels on our road trip.
My free accommodation for the rest of the month was 13 nights staying with friends and family in Colorado, Utah and Idaho, six nights free camping on our road trip, two nights backpacking in the Sawtooth Wilderness, and two nights in a friend’s parent’s cabin in Ketchum.
Food and Drink $897
This is a lot, but as I was traveling the whole month it isn’t too surprising. Next month will probably be pretty similar. Sigh.
- Jumper $12
- Gas $152
- Parking $6
- Strawberry Hot Springs $20
- Homestead Crater Hot Springs $15.50
- Maple Grove Hot Springs $15
- Lava Hot Springs $8
- Lava Ho Springs tube rental $5
- Old Idaho Penitentiary $6
- Sawtooth Botanical Garden $5
- Bannack Ghost Town $6
- Nevada City Museum $10.50
- Jenny Lake boat trip $10
- Hot Sulphur Springs $20
- Toiletries $5.50
- Hulu $6
- Kindle Unlimited $11
- Phone plan $40
- Gemstone Bracelet $15
- Book $9
- Bear spray $25
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone $203
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van Costs $27
- Oil change $27
What’s in Store for Next Month
The first half of the month will be spent in Denver, catching up on work, visiting friends and family, and getting ready to go to New Zealand.
Then we will be attending a family party – an Outlaw party (more on that next month) in Buena Vista where we have rented a massive house for a couple of nights.
From there we will be hitting the road for another road trip, this time down through Southern Colorado to hopefully catch the end of the fall colors, then into Arizona and down to Phoenix.
We are planning to re-visit the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and Sedona, before stopping in Prescott and Montezuma Castle for the first time, then getting into Phoenix to visit friends and family there.
We will have around a week in Phoenix visiting with everyone and hopefully fitting in some hiking, eating out and other sightseeing as well.
The last two days of the month I will be staying in beautiful Manhattan Beach in the South Bay of LA for two nights, before my flight back to New Zealand – I am so excited to be going home for a while!
To read additional Monthly Round ups, you can find them here