Thursday, August 2, 2012

Red Banks Campground and Minnetonka Caves

Tony's Lake:  Recreation.Gov
We had been dying to get out camping this summer, but as a typical over scheduled family, we hardly had an open weekend.  We finally found time two weekends ago.  We carefully selected Tony's Grove Campground from our Utah Camping book.  It had a scenic rating of 9!  
We got on-line to reserve our site and they were all filled for the rest of the summer.  I guess we ought to plan earlier.  Luckily, for the unprepared, there were several "no reservation" camp spots at Tony's Grove.  "If we leave early on Thursday," we optimistically thought, "we will be able to find a camp site before the weekend rush."  Ha, and Ha Ha!  When we arrived the campground host laughed at our optimism.  He'd already turned over 50 campers away that day. 

Plan B. We continued to drive northeast toward Bear Lake. Referring to our book, we stopped at Sunrise Campground.  Same story.  Again, back to the book.  We noticed the the Beaver Mountain RV Park had electric hook ups so I called.  We made a reservation and luckily, or strangely, there was a site available.

Beaver Mountain is a ski resort in the winter.  As we drove into the parking lot of the resort we noticed many campers parked in the lot. "What are they all parking here for?" we asked.  We drove though the parking lot and realized that this was the campground. Every other parking space was the camp site and the RVs had backed into the slots with only a narrow clump of trees separating one side of the lot from the other.  I am not camping in a parking lot.  I don't care if there are flush toilets and showers.  A parking lot is not camping!  Reservation cancelled.

Plan C.  There were several smaller campgrounds along the Logan Canyon Road.  We finally stopped at Red Banks Campground.

This is the beautiful site we picked out.  The campground had only about 12 sites and they were very private and quiet.   Look at that majestic willow tree shading the camp.  There was a fishing stream running right next to the campground.  There is nothing better than going to sleep with the sound of a running stream nearby.  The only downsides were the highway noise which quieted down in the evening and the drinking water.  There was a big pump and at first the water ran clear. But after a second the water turned to mixture of water and rust.  I guess that would be good if you were iron deficient. Luckily we'd brought drinking water. 

If you are in the Bear Lake area, take a short drive north to Minnetonka Caves in Idaho.  This tour is not for the faint of heart.  If you don't mind the bats, you may mind the 444 stairs going down.  Not bad until you have to come up.  It was a great tour, however, and my son and I enjoyed it immensely.   
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We also took a hike up the Limber Pine Trail.  At the end sits a Limber Pine that is over 2000 years old.  

View of Bear Lake From Limber Pine Trail

Even though we didn't camp at Tony's Grove, we went back to fish at the lake.  Fishing was great. Catching was terrible.  So I took some wildflower photos.


I'm not sure what all these wildflowers are. My sister would know.  She remembers all their names. I know Lupine, Indian Paintbrush, Goldenrod, Thistle, and Wild Daisy. If you know perhaps you could comment and tell me what they are.  

Red Banks Campground I give a 4 out of 5 stars.  Minnetonka Cave and the wildflowers I give 5 out of 5 stars.  

Lest I forget, if you are ever in Bear Lake, you must try a wild raspberry shake. 5 stars for sure.  And the Hawaiian Salted Caramel  shake isn't bad either.  I might have to try some other flavors the next time I'm in Bear Lake just to make sure the five star rating is correct.

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