The mountain biking in Fruita, Colorado is a little slice of heaven baked by the sun and carved from the desert. Singletrack trails crisscross the desert around the now-famous 18 road and even more trails skip along the spiny backs of nearby ridges that protrude from the mountains. Unless there’s a storm clouding the sky, sunsets light up the horizon nightly and stars blaze from one side of your vision to the other.
|| We left Salt Lake City and its light-polluted sky and found something better in Stanley, Idaho. Just outside of Stanley there’s a particular campsite on a particular hill; it’s hard to reach but worth the effort. You can see a full 360 degrees of clear sky from this campsite. A faint glimmer of light shines into the sky from town; it’s hardly enough to distract from the stars that fill the sky.
Nights like this remind me of Maine. ||
|| Twenty-percent rain was what the forecast read. Really, this translated into about twenty, full minutes of rain–at two AM. I’ll take that.
We took Friday off from work with the hope of bagging a ride or two on the trails around Stanley before it rained. Luckily, we beat the rain. And after the clouds rolled in and rolled out at night, we were left with this incredible sunrise.
An incredible view awaited us at this campsite off the Nip Tuck road. Hunters rolled up and down the dirt road all morning, checking for deer and signs of a chance to earn an early tag. We left during the day, rode Fischer Creek, hit the hot springs near town, and then made dinner as a blast of frigid air rolled through camp. Clear nights bring cold temperatures, but that might be the only problem with being able to see the stars so clearly.
Without a blanket of clouds to warm the land, your toes turn cold in a hurry. ||
|| Light spills up and onto the branches of a tree at a campsite in Stanley, Idaho. This particular campsite is located at a hard-to-reach location on top of a hill. The hill overlooks the town of Stanley at night, and provides an incredible view of the Sawtooth mountains in the morning.
At night it’s easy to see the stars and pick out constellations. Salt Lake suffers from a massive amount of light pollution, and traveling to a place like Stanley drives that point home in spades. During the fall it can be downright frigid at night. Take a zero degree sleeping bag, a warm hat, and a down jacket. You’ll need all three.
High fire danger had skunked our campfire dreams all summer, until the ban was lifted the previous week. We built a toasty fire, heated some soup, and swapped stories until it was too late to think about anything other than bed. Although it might be different for some, I sleep like a rock when I’m camping. Back home there’s just too many distractions, but in a tent it’s just you and your heavy eyes. ||
|| I spotted this single, lonely tree standing tall just outside of our campsite in Stanley, Idaho. This site was just off the Nip Tuck road near town. Spring, summer, or fall, this part of Idaho has incredible mountain biking and rafting. Hot springs dot the landscape and serve as welcome relief after some of the longer rides in town.
Trails are rarely crowded, and when you do run into another group it’s only for a brief moment and a casual exchange. Stanley is worth visiting just for the breakfast in town at the Bakery and the stars you can see at night. ||