Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Henrys Lake and Day of Rest

As promised yesterday, today we were going to take a day of rest to get ready for the northern trek into Yellowstone National Park on Thursday.  We were going to get some heavy laundry items washed at a laundry mat...but that plan fell through too.  However, we did drive around Henrys Lake and got a few pictures.

For those followers who are not family, when we were in Sacramento from late April through late June, we stayed at my sister Sandy's house, and her husband Arny, our brother-in-law, grew up in Idaho, and by chance, his family camped at Henrys Lake when he was young.  He told us a story over the phone the other day of when he was around 6 years old....he went down to play by the lake's edge...and well, about 12 hours later they found him when he walked into a State Ranger's Office.  He had walked around the lake.  He was told that if you are lost, keep the water to the same side of you and just keep walking and you will be back where you started.  Well, works well for small lakes, but Henrys is 4 miles long and 2 miles wide.

So this blog and the pictures which follow are for him.  I am sure the lake has been developed way more than he would like to have seen it....but there are parts which are as natural as before.

First thing we did was drive out of the state park and took a left (north) on highway 20.  We took a left on highway 87 and went along the north shores of the lake, although the highway is not real close to the lake, providing land for the cattle and for the wildlife.  Along this portion we took the following pictures.
So these pictures are from the north looking to the south-west.  The higher mountain (above) is Sawtell Peak.  There is a FAA radar station and a shortwave repeater on the top of the mountain, among other things.  The shortwave is pointed into Yellowstone to provide coverage in the remote areas of the park.  Note that the mountains to the right wrap around the lake to the west.
 Below is one the information plaques that talk about the history of the area.
 Next turned south along Henrys Lake Road, and got the three pictures below.
These three pictures are side-by-side, and look to the south.
 The large mountain in the picture above and below is still Sawtell Mountain.

The road turns and now heads directly south.  You can see some the houses built within the last decade or so alongside the road.  What was ranches, has become homes in some places around the lake.
 But the cows still seem to rule...as this one did as he scampered off the road and back to the safety of the other cows, even though they are on the "right side" of the fence and it is on the "wrong side."

The Bill Frome County Park at Henrys lake is along here...and it is where the paved road ends and the bumpy non-paved road begins.  There are 40 camping places, and camping is FREE, but no hookups at all.  Kind of a nice, group, fishing boondocking spot.

Now the bumpy road goes along for another couple of miles and we took a left on Red Rock Road, which at this point is still a bumpy, non-paved road.  It is also a bit away from the lake.
So this view above is facing east.  Again note that the mountains encircle the lake.  We are now over 1/2 around the lake.  Sawtell Mountain is right in front of us.
The road turns to the left and we now face to the North, and you can see the lake and mountains to the north of the lake.
Well, the lake is there, just below the mountains...but at this distance, it is hard to see.  Highway 20 goes in between the dip between the long mountain, and shorter range to the right of it.  Highway 87 runs right along that long mountain range.  Again, you can see that the mountains encircle the lake.
About a mile down the bumpy road it turns into a paved road, and then you come to Red Rock RV park.  Of course, it is faster to come to the park from Highway 20 along Red Rock Road...which means we are nearly finished with our circle.  We get back to highway 20, after driving through some very pretty trees first.  We drove to the south first, turned around after 15 miles or so, and eventually pulled back into the state park road.
This view is to the west, and you can see the rest of the mountains that encircle the lake.

The reason the lake is encircled by mountains is that the lake lies within the Henry's Fork Caldera, an ancient super volcano which at one time, might have been part of a super volcano that made up Yellowstone too.  So once there was an ancient eruption of this super volcano, and then a collapse of the volcano.  Crater Lake was formed this way, as were other areas which we have already visited this year.  The Henry's Fork Caldera is nested inside of the Island Park Caldera and the calderas share a rim on the western side.  The Island Park Caldera is much bigger, and extends into Yellowstone.

Speaking of Island Park...the town of Island Park that is.  Island Park has a population of around 250 people.  It was incorporated by the owners of many lodges and resorts along highway 20, and extends for 33 miles, and at times is only 500 feet wide.  It "claims" to have the longest "Main Street" in the world.  Why?  Because Idaho liquor laws prohibited the sale of liquor outside of city limits.  When we pull out of the park, we are in "Island Park".  

Tomorrow, more of Yellowstone....we sure hope to see a bear or two...but Marcia said that she had enough close encounters with buffalo for a lifetime!

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