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Riggins, Idaho…

Posted by on July 18, 2014

JULY 18, 2014


Our campsite near Riggins, Idaho. July 2014. The river wasn’t more than about 25 feet from our door!

RIGGINS, IDAHO. We’ve just arrived and we’ll be here for about a week. The town is nestled deep in a canyon at the confluence of the Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers in west central Idaho. The population is a tad over 400. This is truly small town Americana. I love it. I can’t wait to meet some of the locals and find out “what’s goin’ on” with them. I’m getting pretty bold…I just walk up to folks and start chatting. I find that most love talking about themselves, what they do and where they live. I’m learning a lot.


The Office and Country Store at Canyon Pines Resort. 

CANYON PINES RV RESORT: Riggins is a hub for outdoor adventures in North Central Idaho. Rafting, kayaking, fishing and hunting are “big” and campgrounds abound, offering splendid scenery and abundant wildlife. You can even pan for gold in the river gravel up here. This is “Idaho’s Whitewater Capital” and the resort has several thousand feet of Salmon River “waterfront.” The elevation is 2,300 feet. Six thousand feet above the resort are the Seven Devils, the Idaho wall of Hells Canyon. The owners live on-site and are very knowledgeable about the area. They have working relationships with local businesses, outfitters and guides, and stand ready to provide information and introductions. One of my priorities in the morning is going to be finding out if I can catch trout and steelhead in the river right in front of our site. We’re parked right on the river! We can have a campfire by the river right by our coach. I knew we’d have a use for that fire pit I bought a ways back in our travels.


The Salmon River, as seen from our campsite at Canyon Pines Resort.

The resort office is located in a little on-site country store. It carries groceries, convenience items, fishing tackle, propane and local crafts. There’s a book exchange and a real homey atmosphere. The campground is small…only about 50 sites, so we’re being made to feel as if we’re personal guests. It’s nice. I think the owners will make our stay memorable.

WHITE WATER RAFTING: On the third day of our stay, we decided to do a little exploring. We took the Jeep along a road by the river and saw dozens of rafts bouncing along the river through churning white water and class IV and V rapids. As much fun as rafting appears, we’re going to wait ’til we get to Lewiston next week and take a jet boat trip on the Snake River.  It’ll take us through some frothing, fast rapids as well, but in a little less threatening way. I’m told the jet boat trips are plenty exciting but not as demanding as the raft trips.  Good deal. Next on the day’s agenda was…


The sign reads: “Road to Pittsburgh Landing. 17 miles. Expect many tight switchbacks and grades of up to 16%. Gear down on steep grades. Keep well to the right on narrow road and blind curves.” Sounds a little ominous…but screw it, let’s go!

THE ROAD TO PITTSBURGH LANDING: Pittsburgh Landing is a little cove on the Snake River, deep in the Hells Canyon Recreation Area. Shade is provided by a stand of poplar trees and there are a few picnic tables under the trees. It’s protected from the churning whitewater, has a white sandy beach and is a spot where weary rafters “come ashore” to take a swim and rest before renewing their journey down the rapids. It’s a destination. We wanted to see it. But…there’s a catch: The road to the spot is challenging. A sign warns would-be travelers of road perils, as you can see in my photo. I wanted to go there. We’ve got a Jeep, right? That’s why we got it. Let’s go! I’m glad we made the drive. It was a little un-nerving at times but well worth it. The rugged back country surrounding the river is really awe-inspiring. We didn’t come here to read about it, we came to see it…to experience it.


The Road to Pittsburgh Landing. Look at those switchbacks! The grade going down was lots steeper than it appears in my photo. At the end of that winding road is the Snake River. A whitewater rafter’s paradise.


The twins simply would not leave their mom alone.

A DEER NURSING HER BABIES: The last part of today’s outing provided a really unexpected treat…a chance to see Nature in action. Here’s the deal: After our drive to the Landing, it was almost time to head back to camp. However, as we approached a little road veering off Route 95, it beckoned. I’m not sure why…it just did. I made the turn and away we went…once again driving down a road leading somewhere…that’s all I knew of it. Little did I know what we’d encounter just a couple of miles from the main road. As we came around a bend we saw a grassy meadow and a couple of really young deer “playing.” Twins. They were so young they were literally unstable on their long spindly legs. Where’s mom? Before long, she came through some brush and emerged in the meadow. When the babies saw her the fun started. Mom was about 50 yards distant and those two little deer sprinted…almost cantered…to her! They were hungry! Before Mom even got a chance to vote, those little ones were nursing so hard I thought they’d topple their mom right down on the grass! I could almost “hear” her thinking: “OK, I’ll let you nurse for a while, but don’t press your luck!” It was hilarious and fascinating. When mom would try to move along, those little guys would hang on and literally get pulled along the grass. It was really a sight to see, but we almost felt as if we were invading their privacy.

All in all, a great day of exploring!


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