Tag Archives: #hellscanyon

Dare You to Keep Your Eyes Open!


When company comes callin’ up here in Council, Idaho we like to take them places that’ll scare the pants off of ’em.  If not truly scary, then at least give them a view they won’t find anywhere in Pennsylvania … the home of our latest visitors (Cousin Tom & his girlfriend Kelly).  We picked a 130+ mile round-trip drive through Idaho mining & Forest Service history. Sweetie was the Assistant Fire Management Officer (AFMO) for the Council Ranger District on the Payette National Forest for six years (before he met me 🙂  ); he knows cool stuff about the roads, mountains, people, and history of the area … he is a great tour guide.

It's a small town fer shur

It’s a small town fer shur

For starters we drove through the towns of Bear  and Cuprum (latin for copper) … snugged into the forest; small places remaining from the mining heyday in the 1890’s. Once boasting thousands … now, uh, less than 10? … few homes and fewer people.  We didn’t see many smiling faces as we drove past … more like what the H are you looking at kinda faces.

Horse Mountain Fire Lookout ... Payette National Forest

Horse Mountain Fire Lookout … Payette National Forest

Anyway, past these little spots we slowly wound our way up to the Horse Mountain Fire Lookout Tower from which you can see the Seven Devils mountain range and below (about a mile) you can see the thread of the Snake River in the bottom of Hell’s Canyon.Nothing this high in PA Horse Mountain Lookout Viewpoint over Snake River in Hells Canyon

Some folks think the road to the lookout is ‘scary’ … well, strap on your seat belt and grab your camera … the slow going, gravel road named  Kleinschmidt ‘s Grade will send chills down your spine, at places you’ll want to close your eyes, and if you are brave enough to look you’ll get a mountain goat’s eye view of the world.  The road was built as a way to move ore to the river; a way Mr. Kleinschmidt hoped would be faster than hauling the ore by wagon and mule team. It is a spectacular drive even if the road didn’t help Mr. Kleinschmidt’s financial ventures.

Kleinschmidt's Grade Photo Op

Kleinschmidt’s Grade Photo Op

Finally at the bottom of the grade and half-way home, we headed south toward the Oxbow and on to Cambridge. We pulled off in one of the well maintained and shady boat launch sites to give the Mala dog a swim and unfold our legs before starting back to the ranch.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and ties into several day trips I’ve shared with y’all before … in my Idaho Winter Wandering — No Snow and A Saturday Explore where we ended up in Cambridge and picked over the pawn shop and the art gallery. I love road trips; old trips, new trips … I saw 3 more trailheads on our journey that intrigued me and that I put on my I want to do that sometime list. Trip Stats? 1 dog, 1 4×4, 4 people, 6 hours, 130 miles …. unlimited smiles.

The trip doesn't look treacherous, does it?

The trip doesn’t look treacherous, does it? Can you tell the steep parts?

Elevation ... not much change was there? LOL

Same route, elevation only … Nah, not much of a drop at all!






A Saturday Explore …


Some days are just meant for driving and day trippin’ . Saturday it was a dirt (well muddy) back road in Adams County, Idaho. With a quick turn off of Highway 95 onto Goodrich road we, after some sliding and bumps over old snow (slush) and mud holes , ended up in ‘Goodrich’, or what is now the Goodrich area.

Goodrich Creek & Forest Boundary sign

Goodrich Creek & Forest Boundary sign

The road, built from the middle fork of the Weiser river  in 1890, opened up high desert and hidden valleys for ranching and orchards. It also offered a back way into Cambridge through Mesa (Mesa is a story for another day).

Goodrich School House closed in 1956

Goodrich School House … closed 1956

At one time the people in Goodrich had a post office and a school; the school closed in 1956 and the post office the next year.  There are working ranches and homes so far back in from the pavement that a trip to town would definitely be a planned adventure.

There is a lot of big lonesome in Adams County … there are only about 3800 people in the whole 1,370 square miles.   Hummm … that’s only about 2.something people per square mile … insert a big smile here, it’s peaceful!

After crossing the county line we stopped to check out Mondo Hotsprings.  We didn’t take a swim (we were swimsuitless) but chatted up the owners for a while.  The pool, new, and handicap/wheel chair accessible is very clean and well maintained … The hot-springs is in the center of a small RV park and boasts a bistro and an 8 person hostel if you aren’t dragging your own home behind you.

We finally pulled into Cambridge, the small town which is the gateway to Hell’s Canyon from the Idaho side.  We stopped to poke around the pawn shop for a bit and then discovered  an art gallery next door.  I’ve driven down Cambridge main street a hundred times at least, and never knew it existed.

I’m giving a shout out to the artist, Kaye York,  her work captures the heart and soul of this country and showcases Kaye York Western Artmany places that I’ve come to love in Southwestern Idaho. I didn’t have a lot of time to peruse the full gallery ,but did checkout her on-line gallery when we got home … I think our living room wall need a new painting …

Here’s to another successful Saturday Explore …