Tuesday, October 03, 2017

A Trip to Star Valley

We plan on spending the winter on the Oregon Coast once again, but decided to take a trip to Wyoming to visit our good friends Don and Betty and make a stop in Montana on our way back.  We spent our first night on the road near Medford, OR, in the wildfire smoke-filled valley.  The visibility was down to less than a half mile and the air tasted of smoke and burned the eyes.  We drove east to Klamath Falls, where the air began to clear, and from there into Idaho where the weather changed and the smoke started to dissipate.  We spent a few days relaxing and shopping in Boise, one of our favorite towns, then headed east into Wyoming.  We turned onto Idaho 34 at Soda Springs and began a scenic drive over the mountains into Star Valley.  At around 6200’ elevation, it’s hard to believe it’s a “valley”, at least until you see the 9000’ mountains to the East.  Star Valley

Don and Betty own a lot in the Star Valley Ranch, a huge RV resort outside the small town of Thayne and about 60 miles south of Jackson.  Besides the RV Resort, there is a housing subdivision, an area of small ranches, and two golf courses.  It’s an impressive development; you can read about it here.  And, it’s still growing!Star Valley Map

With Don and Betty as our tour guides, we traveled down the valley taking in the sights.  We drove back into the mountains along beautiful wooded roads where the leaves were just beginning to turn.  This is an area where sheep are grazed in the summer, and we came across this sheepherder's wagon, complete with spare tire and solar panel.Sheepherder Wagon

Mountain RoadBrenda & Betty

Thayne Mountain View

Old Barn

Driving down to Afton one evening for dinner, Brenda suddenly yelled “Moose!”.  Sure, we thought…..but lo and behold, there was a moose running along side of the road!  We turned around to get a closer look and saw that he was a handsome young bull:Moose on the Loose

Moose Closeup

We had dinner that night in Afton, a town that leaves no doubt that you’re in Wyoming’s wild west:Downtown Afton

We always enjoy our time with Don and Betty, but the weather was getting colder and it was time for them to get ready to return to Arizona for the winter, and for us to head for Montana.

We always manage a visit to the Missoula area when possible to see the friends we made while volunteering at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.  So after spending a few days visiting Idaho Falls, we headed up I-15 to Dillon.  On the way, we passed through an area of early snow in the mountains:Wyoming Mountains

In Dillon, we came across this old or made-to-look old saloon with the mountains in the background:Dillon MT Saloon

From Dillon, we drove through over Big Hole Pass, across the valley, and over Lost Trail Pass down into the Bitterroot Valley.  The valley has been hit hard this year by wildfires, and we were fortunate to arrive just after rains had dampened the fires and reduced the smoke.  The mountains have a light dusting of snow, but smoke is still in the air and small areas of wildfire are still visible:Bitterroot View

We spent a week here visiting friends and enjoying the area.  Since then, we’ve headed west over Lolo Pass and traveled down into the Clearwater Basin.  It’s an interesting place, and we’ll be posting an update soon on our travels – so stay tuned!