Our first “Girl Squad” adventure was to Smith Creek Falls. I discovered this nearby landmark through a HUGE artwork order I’ve been completing for work. This art selection, for a Boise project, is requiring almost 500-local photography pieces. Since I’ve spend days upon days looking at beautiful scenic photos, I started making a list of all of the picturesque places I’d like to visit. I have 4-entire notebook pages scribbled with adventure destinations, so stay connected on my blog to learn about cool places to check out (as well as some tips for adventuring that I’ve picked up along the way)! J I texted my friends wondering if they wanted to start doing a “Sunday Squad,” where every Sunday we pack our car with smiling faces and get out of Boise to see the beautiful natural world around us. There’s a lot to explore within a 2-hour radius outside of Boise.
The directions that were provided online were rather vague, in fact hardly existent, and we ended up having to use coordinates in order to get there. After about an hour we made it to the first unmarked lookout point. We got out of our car to stretch our legs and hopped along layers of hexagonal basalt in order to make our way to a cliff that overhung a river valley below. These bluffs were incredibly windy, so we refrained from getting too close to the edge. Getting back in the car, we headed down the road to a narrow dam bridge. This was the Arrowrock Reservoir Dam, and was barely a one-lane road. Of course this happened to be one of the only intervals in which another car was coming the opposite direction. My mom has this theory that you never pass another car unless you’re on a one-way road, or there is some sort of traffic obstruction (such as a bicyclist or a mother pushing a double-wide stroller). At the end of the bridge, the coordinates were acting fussy as service was spotty. We took a left because there appeared to be an old farmstead that could be seen from the turbulent cliffs above.
Virtually the entire drive we were within the Boise National Forest. The road was long and wound around with the curvature of the waterway. We were practically alone with the sounds of the stream, the clear open skies, and the pure air of the middle of nowhere. The only sign of the outside world for most of the trip, was a military airplane that was practicing fire-drills by dumping tanks of water on a targeted mountainside. There were numerous little Creekside campsites that seemed relatively private from the other campers, though by only being 20ft off the main road, they probably get blasted with dust in the dry summertime. We parked and got out of our cars every five minutes because around each corner, there would be a new spectacular viewpoint. We laughed at each other as we panicked in disbelief about the views we were witnessing. There were forgotten barns to explore, steep rock-faces to navigate, and creeks to climb over. We were typical tourists for the day, trespassing private properties to find hidden treasures, with no-cellphone-service, snapping Polaroid photos, and taking 8-hours to circumnavigate a 1.5-hour drive. If only our cameras could capture what our eyes could see.
Hunger hit us about half-way through the trip. We planned poorly and didn’t bring any food with us into the wilderness. Luckily, when we passed Prairie Idaho (population 8 – including a grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, grandson, uncle, cat, and dog), there was a cute little country-style cedar-planked General Store. We decided it was too charming to bypass and not stop in for lunch. All of us ordered the same menu-item, “The Cowboy Burger,” which included a Prairie-ranched beef patty, a thick slice of grilled ham, a fried egg, peppered bacon, pickles and the rest of the veggie-works. This towering burger was one of the biggest I’ve ever seen as it was still falling apart while both hands tried to hold it together. Not even embellishing, we all agreed these were the best burgers we’d ever had and they even included home-baked buns and hand-cut Idaho potato fries.
After lunch, we finally arrived at what we came for—Smith Creek Falls. The restaurant owners warned us of rattle-snakes and gave us “secret directions,” since the falls weren’t visible from the road. Back on track in the direction we were heading before brunching at the General Store, we took a left at the only stop-sign in the town of Prairie, drove for a few miles until we hit a “Y” in the road, sped down a crumbling cliffside drive, and passed over a cattle grate. On the far side of the cattle grate, we followed a barbed wire fence toward the tune of a roaring river. From here we tromped through fragrant fields of sagebrush and finally stood peering over the mouth of the waterfall. The online directions stated that we would have to trudge through an irrigation canal, but we went early enough in the year that this was not an obstacle.
We played along the crags of the cataract for some time, but there was no way to hike down to the bottom pool to swim. Heading back to the car, we kept driving until we saw several vehicles parked at a different waterfall-viewing area. The family (with NINE daughters) told us that they came from Boise via a different direction than we had come. Their direction was definitely shorter, but we were glad we took the longer loop because we had seen many incredible sights that would have been missed if we hadn’t gone that way. There were a total of three waterfalls along our journey, whereas the shorter route would have only taken us by two. We also would have missed twisting along the tributary, the giant juicy burgers, and some inconceivable cliff-hanger views. Gotta love happy accidents and getting “lost!”
We parked for the last time atop a lofty open field that seemingly fell off the sides of the Earth into the snake of the river below. The sun was on its path down from the sky and we noted this place as a great spot to return with a crew of campers later in the summer. Exploring this highland for the last photos of the trip, we found a cave-like overhang in the rocks in which we found a Geocache/Summit treasure! There was a capsule with some funky trinkets and small notebook inside of it, along with historic notes scribed by previous adventurers that had stumbled upon this secret stash. We left our mark on the pages of the notepad and journeyed back home feeling like we had an ultimately successful first (of many) Sunday Squad adventures.
Coordinates: 43.52083, -115.68013
Enjoy your adventures,