Day Four – Pinedale WY to Hailey ID
Miles: 322
Elapsed Time: 8:21

We began the day at 6:00 and headed to breakfast at the Wrangler Cafe. Back in 2004 we ate breakfast here everyday. It’s really the place to eat if you enjoy a big, no nonsense breakfast enjoyed by the local ranchers. We sat next to a group of the locals and had a nice conversation with them. We were all packed and on our way by a little after 7:00. It was a little chilly in the morning and we had most of our gear on. As is normal it was nice riding in the morning and just putting the miles behind you. We ran up WY352 through Cora before heading over Forty Rod Road to US191where after a few short miles we reached the highest elevation of the day at just under 8,000 feet as climbed through the Gros Ventre Range. Once past Bondurant US191/189 really starts to get fun. It follows the Hoback River past Battle Mountain; an extinct volcano named after an epic battle that took place in 1841 between some trappers and Indians. We stopped at a wide pull off that had access to the river. We went down to the river’s edge but there wasn’t much to see. On we rode toward Hoback Junction where the Hoback River joins the Snake River. We were now following US89/26 as it follows the Snake River. The road is in nice shape and we weren’t bashful about going fast and taking the turns. There is normally many rafts in the area but is was still before 9:00 so there wasn’t much activity. We stopped a little short of Alpine and had a look at the river from far above. US 26 breaks away at Alpine and runs north and west along the Palisades Reservoir. The reservoir is a result of the dam on the Snake near the town of Palisades which is little more than a campground. We made a stop along the reservoir to just soak in the scenery. It was almost 10:00 at this time and the sun out in full resulting in a picture perfect atmosphere. There are many good places to stop for a view along US 26 and the Palisades reservoir, but we had planned to stop 20 miles down the road at Fall Creek Falls. After the dam, we entered Swan Valley, a 30 mile stretch of beautiful Idaho scenery. I had noticed a set of falls when laying out the route that looked pretty worthwhile. We knew the exact GPS coordinates and it was still difficult to find, but well worth it when we finally did find it. The Fall Creek Falls are a beautiful site but the view from a boat on the Snake River is far superior to anything that can be seen from the shore but I think it is still worthy of a stop. There is a foot-path down to a lower level that provides a better view which we took, and one could fairly easily go all the way down to the river but we didn’t want to take that much time. Interestingly the water from the creek which is the source of the falls was lukewarm and not bone chilling cold like the river below. We assumed this meant some geothermic activity but who knows. Back on US 26 we quickly reached the northern end of Swan Valley and were approaching Idaho Falls. We got through the town as quickly as possible, thinking there was no need to stop as our Wrangler Cafe breakfast was still holding on. After Idaho Falls the landscape turns to high plains desert and the road straightens out as far as the eye can see. We considered stopping at Hell’s Half Acre and we knew where the pull-off was, but as we approached it didn’t see worthy of a stop, so we continued stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture of Twin Buttes. We began to notice signs advertising the first nuclear Breeder Reactor. In my preparation I hadn’t noticed this, but as rode we noticed several signs, so we both thought maybe there is something there. We communicated over our radios that maybe it was worth a stop. It had been about an hour and a half without stopping and it was only a little after noon, so we decided we needed to slow it down a little and make a stop. We knew Arco ID had some nuclear roots but I hadn’t done enough research to know the details. So, we turned left on Van Buren Blvd and headed toward the reactor. The Experimental Breeder Reactor, decommissioned in 1964, became the world’s first electricity-generating nuclear power plant on December 20th 1951 when it produced sufficient electricity to illuminate four 200 watt light bulbs. By its decommissioning in 1964 it was able to power the entire facility. By the time another 13 years elapsed the number of nuclear reactors globally was more than 200. The EBR museum on the grounds is really first-rate, and we could have spent more time there learning about nuclear power in its infancy. I would really recommend this site if you have the time. We ended up spending more the 30 minutes there which is a long time for us not to be riding during the day. We continued on and stopped in Arco for gas before continuing on to Craters of the Moon National Park. We arrived to the park around 1:30 and began looking for where we would stop first. My first thought upon entering the park was this was what the moon must look like. It was very desolate, but at the same time it was also quite breathtaking. The lava flowed here is recently as 2,000 years ago. Interestingly this area mostly unknown until around 1921 and then made a park in 1924. Prior to that people mostly stayed away from this area since there was really no reason to be here. Our first stop was at the Inferno Cone. The cone can be accessed by a walking path and sits about 130 feet above the parking lot. Needless to say we just had a look and went on. We also stopped at the Spatter Cones which has a nice walking path but after two stops we were ready to move on. The ride to Hailey was uneventful as we stayed in the high plains or high desert environment. We had originally planned to go all the way to Stanley but the lodging couldn’t be worked out, so we ended up in Hailey but it was only 3:30 in the afternoon. We pulled into our hotel and found the accommodations to be very nice. The Wood River Inn was nice and the indoor pool caught our eye as we checked in. After parking the bikes we took a relaxing dip in the pool. We decided to hit a local sushi spot called Zou. After looking over the menu we decided since it was so early we would just get something light and move on. The sushi was fair but for south central Idaho it was more than we would have expected. Next we went to Sun Valley Brewery for some local craft beer. We had the Roundhouse IPA, and it did not disappoint. We had some food as well, but I can’t really remember what we had but I remember thinking it was pretty good. We decided to walk down Main Street and stopped at Muleshoe Tavern. There we had some more good beers and watched the Reds put away the brew crew as Chapman shut them down in the bottom of the 9th with two strikeouts. They were now 3-2 after having lost Votto. After the game was over we went back to the hotel and to bed.

Day Four Friday July 20th