Buffalo Campground – Island Park, Idaho

June 2015

After spending a few days in the chaos that is Yellowstone, we wanted to find a place to chill out for a couple of days. After checking out a couple of potential spots, we chose Buffalo Campground. This Forest Service campground is located on the Buffalo River and has 117 sites in seven loops, so it is pretty big.

We ended up with a dry camping site in Loop D, and we were the only people there the first of our two nights. Only one loop has electric hookups and it was packed. Since my house has solar (both a rooftop panel and a portable solar panel), we were able to go where the masses weren’t, and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet (fortunately no camping generators going near us) to go along with our (slight) river view.

Upper Mesa Falls

The reason we chose to stay in this area is because of the Mesa Falls Scenic Highway that Kathy had come across. This is a 28 mile road that takes you by two of the last undisturbed waterfalls in the West (or so says the website) – the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls.

The Upper Mesa Falls has a visitors center and a great walkway that lets you view the water tumbling over the cliff. It also is where Kathy started, and ended, a 35 mile bicycle ride. The scenic highway is a little used road, so it was a perfect setting for her to ride.

There was no cell service at the falls, so I had to drive north on the road until I could get a usable signal so I could get some work done. I found a signal, pulled off onto a Forest Service road, and smiled as Kathy passed me twice on her out-and-back route. Then I drove down to the falls to meet her and do a bit of exploring.

Passing by the Forest Service road I was working from

Passing by the Forest Service road I was working from

Upper Mesa Falls visitors center was built in 1915 by the Snake River Electric Light and Power company. The plan was to build a hydroelectric damn at the falls, but this never materialized (thankfully!). It was used as a hotel, cafe, dance hall, etc. until it was acquired by the Forest Service in 1986. In cooperation with the State of Idaho, the visitors center was rehabbed and a boardwalk was put in.

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