Showing posts from June, 2011

Redrock Falls, Glacier National Park

Date: June 30, 2011
Distance: ~2 mi (3.2 km)one way

After returning from my failed attempt in the rain to reach Grinnell Glacier I was looking for somewhere to go that looked a little drier in Glacier National Park.  I decided to begin hiking up the trail from the trailed by the Many Glacier campground knowing that I probably wouldn't be able to get all the way to Swiftcurrent Pass because of the amount of snow still in the mountains.

Shortly after setting out on this trail I passed Fishercap Lake and continued on to Redrock Lake, which looked a bit nicer than Fishercap.  At the upstream end of Redrock was Redrock Falls, a series of short but raging waterfalls.  I continued hiking up past the falls for a little while, and the trees were fewer in number here than in the lower part of the trail, but before I reached Bullhead Lake or Windmaker Lake more rained began to move in.  I didn't want to get completely soaked again so I turned around.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. Al…

Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park

Date: June 30, 2011
Distance: ~5 mi (8 km) one way to the glacier

The Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana is a popular hike to one of the park's most famous glaciers.  The trail begins at the trailhead at the northwest corner of Swiftcurrent Lake or at Swiftcurrent Lake Lodge.  It continues a short distance and follows the shores of Lake Josephine as it begins to gain elevation.

You can take a boat across Swiftcurrent Lake, hike to Lake Josephine, and then take a boat across this lake as well.  Doing so provides easier access to Grinnell Lake, but this trail doesn't lead to the glacier.  A cutoff trail leads from the last boat launch to the Grinnell Glacier Trail, but it is fairly steep, although only for a short distance.

The day of my hike started off with a little rain, but as I gained elevation in the valley the rain was at times very strong and windy.  About a mile and a half below the glacier, the trail was unexpectedly closed because of a little s…

St. Mary Lake Area, Glacier National Park

Date: June 29, 2011
Distance: ~2.5 mi (4 km) one way

On my first day in Glacier National Park I arrived at and moved into the Rising Sun Campground, a small tent only campground about midway along Saint Mary Lake.  I then drove the Going to the Sun Road as far as I could, which was only to the Jackson Glacier Overlook.

From there I headed back down to the lake and stopped at the only place I could find somewhere to park, which happened to be at Sunrift Gorge.  This small narrow gorge was my favorite small feature in the park.  The gorge is only a few short steps off of the road and is definitely worth the stop.  After viewing the gorge I went downhill under the bridge and close to the lakeshore to see Baring Falls for less than a half mile hike.

I decided to keep going along the lakeshore trail where there were several good views of the lakes and many wildflowers.  The trail had a few ups and downs but was generally flat, hence being along a lake.  The trail then arrived at St. Mary …

Yellowstone National Park

Location: northwest Wyoming
Dates: June 27-28, 2011

This post is a brief description of the areas that I visited during my visit to Yellowstone during June 2011, being my second trip to the park (first was in 2008).  I entered the park from the southern entrance coming from Jackson and Grand Teton and exited to the north at Mammoth Hot Springs.  I spent one night in the park at the Grant Village campground, which is the park's largest.

West Thumb Geyser Basin
Located along the shores of Yellowstone Lake, the West Thumb Geyser Basin is a series of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal features along a short boardwalk directly on the shore of the lake.

Midway Geyser Basin
After setting up camp I headed to the Midway Geyser Basin, which is to the north of the Old Faithful area.  This basin is home to the enormous Grand Prismatic Spring and a few other hot springs.  On my way back I stopped at the Kepler Cascades to the southeast of Old Faithful.

Mud Volcano
The next morning I start…

Grand Teton National Park

Location: Jackson, Wyoming
Date: June 27, 2011

The Teton Mountains are perhaps the most photographed and famous mountains in North America.  My visit for a few hours in June 2011 served two small purposes: to see the mountains for my first time since 2008 and to plan an extensive hiking trip for later in the summer because there was still a lot of snow in late June.  However, that later trip never happened as I had hoped for.

On this trip I entered from the south on Teton Park Road and stopped at a few pullouts where the balsamroot were in full bloom on the sagebrush flats.  I then drove up Signal Mountain, which is a small mountain that rises about 1000 feet out of the valley floor.  The view from the mountain was decent, but was not as great as I had hoped for.  Much of the view was to the east and south, with only a small section of the Tetons visible to the west rather than the all-encompassing view I had hoped for.

After Signal Mountain my last stop was at Jackson Lake Dam wher…

City of Rocks National Reserve

Location: Almo, Idaho
Date: June 23, 2011

The City of Rocks National Reserve in southern Idaho is one of the best rock climbing destinations anywhere.  There are over 700 routes up the granite spires here, most of which range from 100-300 feet high, but can be as much as 600 feet.

There are well maintained dirt/gravel roads and campgrounds in the reserve, which is a unit of the National Park System, but managed by Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.  There are few trails in the reserve, but access to most climbing destinations is not difficult.

The reserve is near the Minidoka Ranger District of Sawtooth National Forest and Castle Rocks State Park in addition to being surrounded by BLM land.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.

Minidoka Ranger District, Sawtooth National Forest

Location: southern Idaho and northern Utah
Dates: June 20-23, 2011

The Minidoka Ranger District is the lesser known and visited section of Sawtooth National Forest in southern Idaho and northern Utah, far from the forest's namesake Sawtooth Mountains.  In this district there are several trails on the maps, but many are poorly maintained and seldom used, making them difficult to follow.

The are several roads throughout the forest here, all are dirt/gravel, and most require four wheel drive or high clearance.  During early summer the area can be quite green with pleasant temperatures, but it dries out quickly towards mid summer.  This is a great area for riding mountain bikes and other off road vehicles, where doing so is permitted.

The mountains here are not spectacular, but may reach over 10,000 feet, and you can drive to the summit of Mount Harrison, the site of a plane crash in 1945 and a little known ski hill.  The Independence Lakes and Lake Cleveland are popular (relatively …

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Date: June 17, 2011
Location: west of Arco, Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a landscape in south central Idaho managed jointly by the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.  The area is the most recent section of the Snake River Plain to experience volcanic activity that began about 15,000 years ago and ended 2,000 years ago.  This received its name when Harold Stearns likened it to "the surface of the moon as seen through as telescope."  President Calvin Coolidge established the area as a national monument in 1924.

The possibility of future volcanic events in the area remain likely, and the area is an excellent place to see a variety of volcanic features including cinder cones, spatter cones, lava tubes, fissures, and rifts.  The monument is most easily accessed from highway 93/26/20 west of Arco where there is a visitor center, campground, scenic drive, trails, and caves (lava tubes).

During my visit there was construction on the p…

Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh

Location: Hill City, Idaho
Date: June 8, 2011

The Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh is located near the community of Hill City in Camas County, Idaho.  Here on the flat valley floor Camas Creek has a large shallow floodplain that forms a marsh averaging twelve inches deep during late spring and early summer.   This marsh attracts many migrating waterfowl but is perhaps most famous for the intense concentration of Camas lilies that bloom en masse in late May or early June.

Signs from U.S. Route 20 direct you to the marsh, where accessible dirt roads traverse the marsh and provide great viewpoints.  During my visit the lilies were near peak bloom, which was late compared to most years.  However, there wasn't a great variety of birds, but there were plenty of yellow-headed blackbirds.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.

Fairfield Ranger District, Sawtooth National Forest

The Fairfield Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest is north of the Camas Prairie and Snake River Plain, west of Sun Valley, and south of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho.  This section of the Sawtooth has only dirt roads and mountains that are generally less jagged and spectacular than the Sawtooth range.  The Soldier Mountains define this district, and Smoky Dome (10,093 feet) is the highest point in the range.

The South Fork of the Boise River runs east to west through the center of the district, where most of the visitors are found.  Trout fishing is common in the river, while the federally threatened bull trout is locally abundant on the district.  Some of the trails on this district are are very steep, rocky, and poorly maintained, while others make for much better hiking.

 The Boardman Creek trail is a good trail that takes you from the South Fork of the Boise River to the base of Smoky Dome, however there are several stream crossings that requ…