The only reservation we made was for a campsite at Flathead Lake in Montana. Made it with Sue’s daughter Jolie and her husband Derek. Oh yeah, and their two dogs!
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We’ve stayed at Flathead Lake in the past and love it. It’s huge and has great camping right on the water. Unfortunately, our favorite campground would be closed down for remodeling so we obtained reservations via the internet at https://www.recreation.gov. We made the reservations for Monday, Sept. 4 for three nights (last day of Labor Day weekend). Figured all the campers would be gone and we were right.
But before we arrived at Flathead Lake, we decided to explore a bit and looked at the map and found Hells Canyon which is located on the border of Oregon and Idaho. Never been there, so off we went. It’s a good two day drive from Gold Lake in California (where we were) to Hells Canyon (where we went) but worth it. The Snake River runs through Hells Canyon and three dams create three lakes with the most northern lake being Hells Canyon Reservoir. A scenic road runs along the lake on the Idaho side all the way to the dam, where white water rafting starts on the other side of the dam. The area is the Hells Canyon Natural Recreation Area located on Oregon Road 7.
Great camping, with one of the main campgrounds located on the Oregon side just before crossing over the bridge onto the Idaho side. Go north on the paved Idaho road and there’s a very nice campground operated by the power company just before the Kleinschmidt Grade (used by 4wd, side-by-sides, and motorcycles to explore the backcountry). Campground is paved with a lot of grass areas as well as a boat launch. Each campsite has electrical and water hookups for just $16 a night! Great bargain. The “lake” is about the same width of the river and allows water sports and fishing. Driving along the road, I spotted some big fish in the water and stopped and rigged up my spinning outfit. Cast out and hooked a fish! Reeled it in and it was a small bass. Wanted to hook one of the visible big fish but had no luck. Looking close I finally realized the big fish were carp! And they don’t bite on lures! Damn.
We stayed there a couple nights before heading over the hill into Idaho, still moving north towards Montana and Flathead Lake. Late August and the temperatures were high, in the 90s. Road ended up paralleling the Salmon River which looked cool and inviting. Finally pulled over for lunch and a walk for our dog Maggie and we ended up cooling off in the river! Nice.
The more north we traveled, it started getting smoky. Seems Idaho was experiencing forest fires as well as California! Lolo Pass was the worst but we enjoyed the scenery anyway. We spent the night about 40-miles from Flathead Lake and the next morning drove on into our campsite located on the West side of the lake.
More rustic than our favorite, but campsites right on the water! Montana was also experiencing wildfires and the smoke was very heavy here, as well. Jolie and Derek pulled in and we set up our camps next to each other. Damn smoke was so bad we couldn’t see across the lake! We took them to dinner at a restaurant we discovered on our last visit there and had another good meal. Back at camp we settled down for a three-night stay. Had fun at the lake with their dogs, both “water dogs,” and Maggie wanting to be one but wouldn’t wander out very far in the water. Caught a couple trout which is always nice.
Jolie and Derek were planning on heading to Glacier National Park after Flathead but the wildfires and smoke had the National Park closed so they headed back to Seattle while we hit the road heading east.
We’ll talk about that in the next blog!