idaho

Challis National Forest | Travel (117/556)

Challis National Forest | Travel (117/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Challis National Forest is where I hit most of the snow during my Idaho national forest loop. Would love to get back for a warmer fall day, with fewer snow flurries!

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Franck Church River of No Return Wilderness - quite the name! Filled with rugged mountains, canyons and whitewater rivers.
  2. Little Bayhorse Trail - a quick one mile hike around Little Bayhorse Lake.
  3. Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway - over 140 miles through diverse Idaho landscape, including mountain peaks, lava flows and ghost towns.
  4. Upper Vanity Lakes - a moderate 2.1 mile trail, out and back, to four small lakes in the Frank Church Wilderness.
  5. West Fork Lakes Trail - a 1.4 mile hike to West Fork Lakes.

What are your favorite places in Challis National Forest?

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556)

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography It was early September and snow began to fall as I drove into Sun Valley, Idaho. With a long detour through three national forests ahead, popping into a Ranger Station for weather information was my first stop in Sawtooth National Forest.

The Park Ranger kindly confirmed I would see snow during most of my drive, but would be at a low enough elevation to not worry about messy roads.

Perfect news! The sky and clouds were dramatic and changing quickly during my entire time in Sawtooth National Forest. Beyond excited to head back for more exploring.

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Eagle Loop - a short, easy 2.5 mile loop trail.
  2. Galena Overlook - after driving through some serious switchbacks, stop and take in this stunning view.
  3. Redfish Lake - named after the once abundant sockeye salmon run, this lake is ideal for enjoying the beach, surrounding views and water activities.
  4. Sawtooth Scenic Byway - a must drive on my list! 116 miles total, with canyon, mountain, river and lava deposit goodness along the way.
  5. Sawtooth Wilderness Area - with 50 jagged peaks over 10,000 feet tall, there's plenty of exploring to be had here.

What are some of your favorite areas of Sawtooth National Forest?

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556)

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography My first visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve was quite a few years back, in my early twenties. Seems like a lifetime ago!

This unique, stunning park is well worth a visit. I truly hope to make it back during winter, maybe with a little snow on the ground adding even more contrast to the landscape.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Cave Area - grab a permit and explore one (or all) of the five caves.
  2. Inferno Cone - a STEEP half mile trail (each way) to the top of the Inferno Cone. My favorite in the park!
  3. North Crater Flow Trail - less than half a mile, this trail takes you onto the North Crater Flow area.
  4. North Crater Trail - a 3.5 mile trail (one way), taking you over North Crater, into the crater mouth and onto Big Craters and Spatter Cones.
  5. Tree Molds Trail - a two mile trail with unique views of tree imprints in the now hard lava rock.

Tell me all about your favorite spots in the park, in the comments below!

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556)

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Finding myself above the tree line, enjoying near and distant waterfalls, unexpected rainbows and bears scurrying across the road all made Caribou-Targhee National Forest a memorable stop on my around the country road trip. An absolutely fantastic place.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Grand Targhee Ski Area - all the expected snow activities during winter, with festivals, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding during warmer months. Plus amazing views of Grand Teton.
  2. Lower Mesa Falls - a more distant view of the waterfall, from above the tree line.
  3. Minnetonka Cave - nine rooms over the course of a half mile. The cave is open during summer months.
  4. Teton Scenic Byway - 69 mile scenic drive, with the Teton Mountain Range in clear view.
  5. Upper Mesa Falls - enjoy an easy boardwalk trail located at the top of the waterfall.

Tell me all about your favorites in Caribou-Targhee National Forest!

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556)

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Visiting Yellowstone National Park is always a treat. My time exploring was low-key and familiar since this was visit number five. Highlights included bison everywhere (as usual), steamy and colorful geysers and beautiful rivers.

As in any national park unit, national forest, wilderness area and the like, be sure to read signs and follow regulations. For your safety as well as protection of wildlife and the surrounding ecosystem.

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Lamar Valley - always a great place to see wildlife. Bison, bears and bighorn sheep are always my favorites in this area.
  2. Madison River - while driving toward the West Entrance of the park, the meandering Madison River is always a beautiful and peaceful stop.
  3. Midway Geyser Basin - contains two of Yellowstone's largest hydrothermal features, including the Grand Prismatic Spring.
  4. Upper Terrace Drive - a beautiful drive around thermal features, near Mammoth Hot Springs.
  5. West Thumb Geyser Basin - the largest geyser basin located on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. I walk the boardwalks here during every visit!

What are some of your favorite hikes and places to explore in Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography