Explore with us our drive from Jackson Hole, WY to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Heading southwest out of Jackson Hole, we followed the Snake River through Bridger Teton National Forest. The road is lined with eagle and osprey nests, as both species need to be near water.The larger, steeper alpine mountains begin to fade to sage brush mountains and ranches. We stopped at Lander Cut Off (a cut off for the overland emigrants on the Oregon & California Trails) for this view…Traveling farther south, we were accompanied by beaver homes and dams along Salt Creek. We crossed yet another state line in to Idaho. By this time, it was about 12:30. So, we began to look for a place we could stop for lunch. With Aunt Glady in tow, there are usually two considerations for lunch: 1) a place where we can park her easily, 2) a place with a picnic table. I have gotten in to the habit of packing our lunch. You just don’t know where you will be when you are hungry. This allows us to not have to plan too much, we can eat wherever we are. On this trip, we were entering Montpelier, Idaho, and we saw a sign for the National Oregon/California Trail Center. This was too good to pass up. Could I talk Chris in to stopping? They would have a big parking lot, and probably a picnic table. And who is to blame if we needed to stretch our legs for a few minutes inside the center? They would have good bathrooms (also a consideration). Well, my husband knows me well enough to see the writing on the wall, and he loves me well enough to be okay with it. So we had a nice lunch and then headed in to the center.And were we met with a pleasant surprise! Turns out this center features an Oregon Trail experience unlike any other museum we have been to. Our wagon master picked us up and began the tour by setting us up with supplies…He then hitched up our oxen, and we got to experience how traveling in a wagon feels. They have a wagon set on a hydraulic platform that actually simulates being on the trail, and they play excerpts from actual travelers’ diaries during your simulation…How cool is that??!! Best Oregon Trail (OT) experience ever!!!
Once we arrived at Cover Creek in our simulated wagon ride, we experienced camp life. Clover Creek is the actual ground where the center is located, and they built the tour on the hard ground where actual wheels and campers packed it down. We changed tour guides at this point, and a lovely lady told us camp stories and finished out our OT experience. The center also had an art exhibit, a quilt exhibit and a museum of local history.
After leaving Montpelier, we then drove around Bear Lake, which is apparently where the Caribbean meets Idaho… Well, the water is not that warm – but it is that clear! We have already started a list of “Return to” places for the future, and this made the list. Bear Lake is a resort with really cute eateries, a bike path and several campgrounds. The area is a mix of somewhat rundown, old homestead buildings and new wealthy vacation homes. There is not a lot of development, so it feels like a well kept secret.
Part of Bear Lake runs in to Utah, so we crossed another state border. As soon as we crossed, we could start to see red in the soil…We continued on traveling through ranches with hills in the background and small towns with large Mormon churches. Our path took us back in to Wyoming for a bit before merging on to Interstate 80 for the first time since the middle of Nebraska and then crossing back in to Utah.
The scenery begins to show you Utah’s true ornaments. We also entered back in to summer at 88 degrees, which we have not seen since the Badlands in South Dakota.