Island Park, ID

July 20, Wednesday

There’s a heaviness to the air as I pack up and prepare to depart Beaver Dick County Park, near Rexburg, ID. Insects hum from the protection of the scrubby woods, there’s not a lick of breeze to be found. It’s going to be a hot day.

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Luckily my destination is at a higher elevation. At Rexburg I get back on US20 headed north and drive through several towns and farming communities. The boundary of Targhee National Forest is easy to spot from a distance – a plateau of darker green carpeted with conifers.

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There’s a lot of road work under way between Ashton and Island Park. I get stopped once where a stretch of the road is down to one lane. The fellow in front of me gets out of his car to grab something from his back seat. The lady behind me gets out to talk to the fellow directing traffic – probably to ask how long it’ll take. Farther back, a young man ducks off into the woods, probably to relieve himself. Being an RVer is incredibly handy in this sort of situation. If I need to use the bathroom, I have it with me. If I’m hungry, my pantry is just a few feet away.

About 15 minutes pass, then the stream of cars start coming from the direction, it’s almost our turn. The rest of the drive is uneventful.

Island Park isn’t a town so much as a loose collection of subdivisions and businesses catering to tourists. It spans many miles along 20 but isn’t a built up area. Technically, my boondocking spot is in Island Park. Finding the boondocking area isn’t hard, during the busy summer season you can see RVs right from 20, but it’s hard to give directions. I’ll do my best, but the easiest way is to go to the Campendium or Free Campsites website and look at a map – this is a popular area and it’s well documented.

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Red Rock Road is south of Henry’s Lake on the west side of 20. It’s a paved road, but immediately after turning onto it you turn right (north) onto Bootjack Drive (a wide dirt road) and cross the cattle grate. The spur roads to the boondocking start right after that.

Parts of the area are forested and parts are open meadow, so whether you have solar or prefer shade and a generator, there are options. Depending on the time of year that you come, privacy may be a rare commodity. This spot is about 20 minutes from West Yellowstone and July is the busiest month of the year for the park. There is plenty of space, as long as you’re willing to crowd together. In places, it looks like a campground. Big rigs will have no trouble accessing the spots at the start of the spur roads and there are several large groups with ATVs when I arrive.

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Wanting to be away from the crowds, I drive farther in, where the dirt road is very rutted from being driven over while wet. This is probably the bumpiest road I’ve driven on to find camping, although the road condition must change constantly depending on the weather. If there’s significant rain in the forecast, you’d be better off staying up front.

I find a clearing in the woods big enough that my solar won’t be useless and pull on in. The grass is very tall out here but in the popular sites it looks like it gets cut occasionally, I don’t know if the forest service does this or if campers do it themselves.

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July 26, Tuesday

After several days hanging out around camp, I take a drive down Red Rock Road out to the lake. There is supposedly boondocking along the shore. There is definitely boondocking along the road before you get to the lake. This camper had several bovine visitors when I drove past.

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All the trees around my site make it hard to tell, but this really is a pretty area. Forests of pine, sagebrush meadows with wildflowers, and mountains. Today the sky is overcast, lending a moody air to the landscape.

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You may wonder why I so often take day trips when it’s cloudy, it’s certainly not by chance. There are two reasons. For starters, overcast days tend to be cooler. If I can avoid getting sweaty, I don’t need to shower as often. It’s a cost and time-saving method for a boondocker. The second reasons is on cloudy days I’m not drawing much power in from my solar equipment, so I can’t be on my computer working all day.

Bertha rumbles up to the edge of the lake at the location where the boondocking is suppose to be. There’s nobody camping here, and I’m not sure this is a “legit” location. I do find one firepit, but it’s been mostly dismantled and doesn’t look like it’s been used for a while. My guess is people occasionally come out here to overnight, but if you tried for an extended stay you’d be kicked out.

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There are other camping options, for those who want to be closer to the lake. On the east end is Henry’s Lake State Park, on the west is Bill Frome Memorial County RV Park. I haven’t been to either so you’ll have to look online for details.

Henry’s Lake is good sized. Wind coming out of the north blows waves up on the rocky shore below, there’s a bit of a cliff here.

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Once again I test Bertha’s off-roading capabilities, following the dirt road beyond the quasi-camping area along the lake shore. I soon encounter a group of free-ranging cattle that are reluctant to move and let me past. Beyond them is another camp site, this one with an intact fire ring, but there’s no way I’d take Cas this far down the road, it’s just too rough.

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Just beyond the campsite, the road climbs sharply up a hill that Bertha can’t pass. I just can’t get enough traction on the loose dirt to power up it, maybe if I had all-terrain tires. When I stop, the truck starts sliding backwards at an angle which is a bit alarming. I’m able to straighten up and back up to the campsite to turn around.

Steeper than it looks

Steeper than it looks

Up next: Hiking in Yellowstone, and a visitor to camp.

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* * *

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

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  1. vickie carter on August 3, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Thanks again for all the pics Becky!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • Becky on August 4, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      You’re welcome Vickie.

  2. Nancy on July 31, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Hi Becky. We’ve been following your post for awhile. Love your books,photos and blog posts. Idaho was not on our radar but it might be now. We read that you haven’t been in Oregon yet. Don’t miss it! We have been here 3 months now. Up the coast to the Columbia River and down south to Bend and Crater Lake. This state has it all and is incredible beautiful. You will love it! Safe travels.

    • Becky on August 1, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Oh, Oregon and Washington are definitely on my list, I just want to wait until I have a whole season to devote to them which hasn’t happened yet. 🙂

      I’m glad you’re finding IO enjoyable Nancy, thanks for reading.

  3. Nancy on July 30, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I love Idaho, especially the Frank Church Wilderness and Sawtooth Mountain Area. You’ve come a long way. I remember when you were getting ready. I hope to be back on the road and reading all my old favorite blogs in September, again–I’m off to Colorado for a couple of months. Glad you got your truck out of that situation. I’ve heard it’s a good idea to carry cat litter in case you run into a muddy or slippery situation. I have the four wheel drive but I still keep a few rugs in the bed. I think I am going to get a big box of cat litter regardless of the weight.

    Love your pictures.

    • Becky on August 1, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Hello Nancy, good to hear from you again!

      I hope your plans go well, I haven’t spent much time in Colorado but all the pictures I see from there are pretty. Will the fall colors be starting in September? I bet that’ll be something special.

      Yeah, I’ve heard about the cat litter trick but never tried it, if you’ve got the space and weight it certainly can’t hurt.

      Take care!

  4. Steve P on July 30, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Hi Becky, I really love you photos and posts. Thanks for the information about the mail forwarding, helped a ton. I’m in Indiana right now getting ready to head out west. Have a good trip and stay safe.

    • Becky on August 1, 2016 at 10:27 am

      You’re welcome Steve, have a great time!

  5. Becky sayre on July 30, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Hey Becky! It was so very nice to meet you in person! I hope you enjoyed your stay at Island Park. The wild flowers were so beautiful! As you know we went to RedFish when we left Island park. It was beautiful! But we only stayed a day because the smoke from near by fires really messed with our sinuses. Currently we are free camped in a NF campground just outside LaGrand, Oregon. Monday we’re headed to Klamath Falls. Have you been there? Hope we can find some good dispersed camping there. Any way, so good to meet you! Hope we see you at quartsite this winter. Safe travels my friend!

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Wow you’re really making some miles Becky! I’m enjoying Island Park and am sorry to hear about the smoke near RedFish, wildfires are no fun. I haven’t been to Oregon yet so no. I most likely will be in Q this winter. Take care!

  6. Martha on July 30, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Nice post and beautiful photos as usual. I especially love the cloudy day with, the road and the fence into the distance. Beautiful composition and photo.

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Yeah I liked that one too Martha, thanks for reading.

  7. Jodee Gravel on July 30, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Rexburg is where we’ll be next August to be in the shadow of the full solar eclipse! Love the pic of the road along the fence line – it looks like you could go forever 🙂
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..A Day On the BattlefieldMy Profile

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:36 am

      It’ll probably be warm but if you have hookups that’ll be fine Jodee, I hope you two enjoy it!

      That road goes over the hill end ends at the lake, you’d get pretty wet if you just kept going, hehe.

  8. Dawn on July 30, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I”d be a bit nervous sliding backwards down the road! Great photos!

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:34 am

      It was a little unnerving Dawn! Glad you enjoyed this.

  9. Clayton Redding on July 30, 2016 at 7:36 am


    A good post with great pictures. Pictures really enhance a post.
    Like Randy mentioned above, the print on my iPad is small and somewhat difficult to read. Before the change, I could zoom in to enlarge the print and picture sizes, and now I can’t. I’m wondering if there might be an option in the software that would allow one to zoom in.
    Another great post, as always.


    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Glad you enjoyed this Clayton.

      Randy’s problem was not with the website itself but with one particular e-mail that got sent out that had an issue due to the size of the pictures in it. It sounds like your problem is something different. As you’re the only one who has reported this particular issue I’m not sure that it’s something on my end but I’ll poke around and see what I can find.

  10. Yvonne on July 30, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Love the photos! Are you enjoying the new phone? I still have an ‘old’ i4 and am thinking about finally getting a new one. (Sigh. Gone are days a phone would last 30 years!). I would love to hear your pros and cons about the new phone (camera, size etc).
    Happy travels!

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:23 am

      Heya Yvonne. Yep I’m still enjoying the new phone, in a recent post I compared the picture quality of the SE to the old 4S,

      As far as size goes, it’s a bit longer than the 4S, same width, a little thinner.

      Take care!

  11. Larry W. Jenkins on July 30, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Hi Becky, we are in Burley, ID overnight on our way to Oregon. This is my first time to ID amd it is beautiful. We drove up from Bear Lake on the UT/ID border. If you get the chance to see Bear Lake, do so. The water is a lght blue like the Carinbean. Stay safe on the road.

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Have a good trip Larry, enjoy Oregon! I haven’t been there yet.

      I’ll keep Bear Lake in mind for a future visit.

  12. Karen on July 30, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Good Morning, Becky!

    Two questions: Could you please tell me the date of the post when you actually, first time, “hit the road”? Been looking for it without success. And, is there a way to PM you?

    Love your current post and photos as always. You continue to be a huge inspiration to me and many others, I’m sure!

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:15 am

      I started living in my Casita at the end of April, 2012. I hit the road as a traveling full-timer on September 14, 2012.

      Blogs don’t have a PM feature, but you’re more than welcome to e-mail me or contact me through IO’s Facebook page, you can find that info on the about and contact page (I don’t like listing it in comments because robots find it and then I get a lot of spam):

      Glad you’re enjoying IO and I’m happy to hear that my writing has inspired you. Take care!

  13. MB from VA on July 30, 2016 at 5:23 am

    You are in one of my favorite areas in the country (I’ve seen 48 states). I was so familiar with the area where WY, ID and MT come together that I actually gave friends of mine from VA a tour. Not 3 hours after landing (They flew….I drove) and beginning our drive, my friend asked what land prices were like around there! 😉 Long story short….they bought some and put a cabin on it…..and have invited me to go out with them on several occasions. The cabin is in Island Park. And now they are the experts! Enjoy! MB from VA

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:04 am

      What a nice story MB, thanks for sharing. This certainly is a beautiful area and I’ve really enjoyed my time camping here.

  14. Randy Springer on July 30, 2016 at 4:16 am

    Hi Becky, a few days ago I told you that I received this blog as an email and that on that particular day, the print was very small and difficult to read. I just want to let you know that it was a one time thing and that it is all back to normal.

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Thanks Randy, a couple people had issues with that particular e-mail and it had to do with the size of the pictures.

  15. Judith Blinkenberg on July 29, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Love your first paragraph, great description. I’d have to park away from tall grasses due to my fear of snakes. Nice pictures. We made it home from Texas. We drove through 9 states and all had road work. Will not do that again without our trailer. Enjoy your stay and be safe.

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 9:52 am

      I’ve only seen one snake so far this year, and it was at my Sawtooth camp along the river (non-venomous). I’m surprised with as much time as I’ve spent outdoors that I haven’t seen more.

      Glad you made it home safe and I hope you enjoyed the trip, even if there was a lot of road work. Take care.

    • marijka on July 30, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      I love snakes (helps growing up with a little brother lol), but tall grass always warns me of ticks. Freaking hate ticks! Of course, I’m in the southeast. Do y’all have ticks in Idaho?

      • Becky on August 1, 2016 at 10:26 am

        I haven’t had a tick on me yet this year, I don’t think they’re as common out west.

  16. John T on July 29, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Hi Becky, found you through Bob Wells’ site.
    My folks used to own a condo at Island Park. There is an unimaginable amount of snow there in the wintertime. Very pretty country.

    Your almost exactly one year early! Next year about this time there will be a complete solar eclipse right through jellystone and on into Idaho. I’ll be there come heck or high water!

    John T

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Welcome to IO John and I hope you enjoy your time here. 🙂

      Yes I’ve heard about that solar eclipse, that’ll be a neat experience for sure! I’ll probably be elsewhere next summer, I came this year for a family reunion.

      As for winter in Idaho, no thanks, not for me,haha.

  17. GARY L WOOD on July 29, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    That’s a nice area Becky. Jagger and I stayed there iin 2014 at the Red Rock RV Park right down the road. I saw all the campers when driving in and out Rock Rock and wondered about it. That was my first trip and didn’t go off road with my 31′ Fifth Wheel – still a little nervous about it. I will be coming through there from Montana in September this year. I still haven’t decided where to stay, but that looks inviting.

    If you get a chance it’s about a 30 minute drive (I think) to Mesa Falls, probably the nicest side trip I did there.

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Yeah Gary, the road to get out to that end of the lake is right next to the RV park, it sure is a beautiful spot. Doesn’t look like I’ll have time to make it to Mesa Falls this trip, but I’ll keep it in mind for next time.

  18. Jay on July 29, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    HI Becky,
    see that you are on the move ! with some more good pictures and good info.

    I just made a order to Amazon through your site,it was a small order but every little bit helps, I hope that I did it right so you will get credit.

    Have a good weekend and have fun. Jay

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Thanks for using my affiliate link Jay, I can’t look up individual people’s orders (privacy rights and all that) but I’m sure it worked fine. 🙂

  19. Sue Ann Jaffarian on July 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    I’m camping vicariously through you!

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Glad you’re enjoying my posts Sue Ann!

  20. John on July 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks this looks like another great site.

    Another advantage of exploring on cloudy days is the clouds can enhance pictures.
    John recently posted..Leaving on a Jet PlaneMy Profile

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 9:42 am

      In my experience overcast days make for poor lighting, I had to work with these pictures quite a bit in my editor. My favorite days for photography are about half clouds, half sun. 🙂

    • Stan on August 1, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Another great looking fishing spot.

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