Monday, June 25, 2012

Stair Master to the Sky ~ May 31, 2012

After breakfast we asked the park host for a suggestion on a good place to explore that's only a short drive, especially after yesterday's 200 mile jaunt. He told us to just turn right out of the park driveway and head for the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. It's about 25 miles north on a gravel road. Though we're camped in Idaho, somewhere along the way we cross into the Centennial Valley and Lakeview, Montana.  The drive is spectacular and we see only a couple of other cars on the road the entire journey ~ our kind of place!

Off to a promising start

Yellow Bellied Marmot  ~ Roadside Patrol

 Short pause for lunch

Just before we get to the Refuge we came upon what appears to be ghost town, like a movie set right out of an old Western. We find out it's the home base for the Center for Earth Concerns, headed by lifelong naturalists and philanthropists Melody and John Taft. The organization works around the world, dedicated to enhancing and expanding education for the protection of wildlife. You can find out more about their vision and work at

The historical buildings, which date back to the early settlers, are being restored and recreated. Also in development is a museum to showcase the history of the Centennial Valley. The facility hosts environmental researchers, artists, students and volunteers to study and fulfill common goals. "The heart of the Center is held by the people who continually dream a vision into being - the founders, directors, staff and volunteers who welcome and care for all who are fortunate enough to visit this oasis for the soul".

Our next stop is the small Visitor's Center at the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge where we find more information on the area and local wildlife. We ask about the fire lookout tower on the property and find it's been retired for some time. We're delighted when the host hands us the keys and lets us to climb up and take a look. You want to talk Stairmaster ~ this was much more fun than the one at the gym and the view from the top was amazing!

Late afternoon we head back to camp to relax and fix some dinner. Starting to feel the thigh and calf muscles from our climb! Tomorrow we start the journey home and will hatch our game plan as we go.