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The Tough Little Town of Riggins

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Any doubts as to the toughness of little Riggins, nestled between two of North America’s deepest river gorges, can be dispelled by its original name, “Gouge Eye”, which originated from a legendary bar fight between rowdy locals and gold-hunting prospectors.


Unfortunately, Gouge Eye was renamed in honor of its first mailman, John Riggins. Nothing against Mr. Riggins, I’m sure being a mailman in 19th century Idaho was no cake walk, but for a town be named after a bar brawl? That’s awesome.

Just like Cascade, Riggins is a former timber town that has re-branded itself for tourism. It’s well-situated for it, midway between Boise and the college town of Moscow, and straddling the banks of the raging Salmon River. This is a great spot for whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing and hiking (as we experienced in the Rapid River Canyon), and popular with students and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

We stayed in the Best Western Salmon Rapids Lodge, which was both comfortable and rustic, decorated with river rock and timber beckoning back to Riggins’ logging days. The rooms offer views of both the canyon out the front and the Little Salmon River. There was a pool and outdoor hot-tub, a two floor lounge area and, the touch that really won us over, cookies and milk at 8pm.

Location of Riggins on our Idaho Map

Don’t Go Hiking Without A GPS Device

Old Western Lamps
Bull Rider Riggins
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September 30, 2012 at 1:58 am Comment (1)

Go West, Young Men!

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$17+ Save on Car Rentals in Top Cities Nationwide!

Since we’re never on one continent for long, we don’t own a car. But during our 91 days in Idaho, the ability to drive was an absolute requirement. Luckily, my parents generously let us borrow their second car. “If that’s the price of having you in America”, reasoned my mother, “then I suppose it’s worth it”. Yep, mom, that’s the price. Now give me the keys.

Ultimate Road Trip

Over 2000 miles separate Springfield, Ohio from Cascade, Idaho, and we split the 33-hour journey into three days. Google Maps suggested we speed along Interstate 80, through Nebraska’s interminable farmland and southern Wyoming. That sounded boring, so we tweaked the directions a bit. It would be a bit longer, but when you’re already going to be on the road for three days, you might as well enjoy yourself.

The first day was the worst — through west-central Ohio, Indiana, central Illinois and then Iowa. Twelve hours of corn, soy, corn, Peoria, corn and cows. The highlight was probably the soy (sorry, Peoria). We listened to Sufjan Stevens’ album Illinois albumIllinois as we cut through the state which inspired it, and then put on some Korean Pop for the stretch through Iowa. Iowa looked like it needed some K-Pop.

It was around 8pm when we arrived at South Sioux City, just over the Nebraska-Iowa border, and pulled into the Budget Host Inn. When a motel’s parking lot is filled with sketchy people in lawn furniture drinking Busch Lite, it’s usually a sign to stay away. But it’s also a sign of economical pricing. Yes, there were bloody scab-boogers crusted onto the sheets, and the room smelled faintly of butane and pickles, but a bargain is a bargain.

Neverending Street

South Sioux City might have more to recommend itself than nasty motels, but we wouldn’t know. We went to bed immediately and left at dawn on the next morning, for an entertaining day on the road. Highway 20, also known as the Bridges to Butte Scenic Byway, skirts across northern Nebraska within five miles of the South Dakota border. The empty, perfectly-maintained road cuts through beautiful, undulating countryside, and made for fun driving.

As we crossed into Wyoming, the landscape became ever more dramatic. Past Sheridan, we took Highway 14, which ascends into the Bighorn Mountains. The sun was getting low in the sky, and we pulled over in order to look back east over the flat, endless land we’d just traversed. These were the first mountains we had reached, and it felt as though we’d finally arrived in the Great American West.

We spent the night in Greybull, Wyoming: as western as a town gets. A massive guy welcomed us into the Greybull Historic Inn, and recommended dinner at the saloon. The bar was rocking and we probably could have gotten into a game of billiards with the locals, but we were too exhausted to be social. And another big day loomed in front of us. The final segment of our journey would take us through Yellowstone National Park into Idaho…

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August 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm Comments (5)
The Tough Little Town of Riggins Any doubts as to the toughness of little Riggins, nestled between two of North America's deepest river gorges, can be dispelled by its original name, "Gouge Eye", which originated from a legendary bar fight between rowdy locals and gold-hunting prospectors.
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