Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

Our trip to the Upper Missouri Rivers Beaks National Monument coincided with a heat wave, and the day we arrived in Fort Benton the thermometer read 98 degrees. On the upside we were headed to a river!

The city of Fort Benton marks the western and upriver end of the Monument, and is a quiet historic town that seems to embrace both the Monument and River that call it home. Fort Benton has three museums, including a great interpretive center for the Monument.

The 149-mile stretch of the … Read the rest


We left the Wallowas well rested, clean and with a repaired trailer, and we were excited to drive up Highway 12 in Idaho on our way to the Upper Missouri River Breaks.

The Idaho portion of Highway 12 is 174 miles running along the Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater and the Lochsa River. Aside from being rumored to be spectacularly beautiful, my interest came from the proposal to truck megaloads of oil refinery equipment (300 tons & 29 feet wide) headed to the Alberta tar sands in Canada.

The … Read the rest

Hanford Reach

On a near 100 degree day we pulled into Richland, WA, heading to Hanford Reach National Monument, our first Monument of the trip! Designated in 2000 by President Clinton, Hanford Reach is 195,000 acres along the Columbia River in eastern Washington.

Our first stop was Columbia Kayak Adventures to chat about floating the Monument. They do tours which fill quickly and sound amazing. The next Hanford Reach tour wasn’t until July, so we rented a tandem and they shuttled us to just below the Monument’s boundary. We spent … Read the rest

Rock Creek Mine


In the months prior to leaving, I happened to watch a House Natural Resource’s Comittee Hearing on the Endangered Species Act. Amoung those testifying was a representative from Heckla Mining Company. He testified on the protracted delays the ESA has caused for the company. Two proposed mines were located in prime grizzly bear habitat, and grizzly bears are protected under the ESA.  The company  representative extolled the extensive mitigation measures the company had committed to, but despite best efforts he lamented that ESA litigation was unfairly stifling … Read the rest


Owyhee Canyon

Snookered by rain the previous day we contemplated a return to Cedar Mountain. Rain was again forecast, so we thought better of another attempt.

With nowhere to race off to, we enjoyed our first relaxed morning. In the afternoon, we unhitched from Flicker and drove into Jordan Valley where we saw a great big No Monument sign at the town center. We soon met Hazel Fretwell-Johnson and toured her yard and home, heard many stories, and bought one of her five books, In Times Past. Hazel was … Read the rest