Heading to West with a Stop in Wallace, Idaho

This was an amazing stop, and totally unplanned. The heat was on so we wanted to be plugged in for a few days.  The campground was Wallace RV Park, which is on a creek and the big selling point to us was has a brewery attached.  After getting off the interstate we drove through this adorable western mining town and then into the campground.  The campground, while the sites were small the location was amazing.  It had a railtrial (Trail of the Coeur d”Alenes) right outside the door which was amazing for working on my training.  It was underneath the interstate for a couple miles which made it very pleasant to stay out of the hot sun.  The trail is something like 73 miles long. 

The town is full of history. It is located in Shoshone County, Idaho in the Silver Valley mining district of the Idaho panhandle.  It was founded in 1884 and sits on the Coeur d’ Alene River and Interstate 90.   They had more brothels there than in San Fransciso did at one point.  The last one closed in the 80’s, the 1980’s.  It then became a museum and the rooms were rented it out.  There is an old theater there as well, however the summer program had not started while we were there.  One day we went on the Mine Tour (Sierra Silver Mine Tour).  We started at the Silver Mining Store, which is part store and part museum and ice cream parlor.  We hopped on a trolley that took us to our tour, after a steep ride up the side of the mountain we were greeted by a Miner who had us place a hard hat on our heads and off we went into the mine.  Very dark and very damp place.  After our 45-60 minute tour down below we decided that spending 12 hours per day in the dark, damp place would not be our idea of fun.  It was interesting how the miner’s lived and we now know that they did not make a lot of money but they would spend some money at the many brothels.  After our mine tour our driver collected us to take us on a tour of the town of Wallace.  In which we learned about the history of Wallace and how it became and why it became the only town in the US that all the buildings, homes are on the National Historical Registry.  Apparently in the 80’s again the 1980’s the government wanted to build the Interstate right through the town, so the town put every house on the historical registry.  

One evening we went to the brewery  (City Limits Brewery) we sat at the bar and a gentleman asked to sit next to us.  We started to chat up Bruce, he is a native of the town of Wallace, however he lives in San Antonio and goes back for a few months in the summer, can’t blame him for that.  Anyway, he was telling us about growing up there and the making of the railtrail.  He said when he was in the military they told the people when on leave they did not want them to go to San Fransciso or Wallace because of the amounts of brothels.  He also told us how the building of the railtrail was a way to unpollute the area. The area was polluted when they were taking out the railroad so the government told the town you either have to spend a lot of money to get rid of the pollutants or “cap”, capping is what they did and the railtrail was born.  There is a train museum, which we did as well, worth our time for sure.

Speaking of Railtrails, there is one we did the Hiawatha Trail.  It is an unpaved railtrail that is awared the Rails-To-Trails Hall of Fame designation.  It is considered the “crown jewel” of rail trails and after riding the trail I can honestly say we agree.  The adventure begins at Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho state line.  We drove up there and rode our bikes down, very little pedaling needed.  The trail is a 2% downhill grade of 15 miles of amazing views on the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad.  The trail has 10 tunnels, (one is 2 miles long, long dark and damp) and the trail also has 7 trestles.  After we got to the bottom there were some nice folks to take our bikes and us back up to the top, well almost the top, we have to ride the tunnel back to the beginning. It cost us less than $30.00 each for the ride and the return shuttle.  They rent bicyles and helmets (must be worn) and headlights (a necessity as well, remember the 2 mile, dark, damp tunnel), however, we had our bikes, helmets and lights with us.  We were finally able to use our bikes since we left Florida and were grateful for having our own and my Ion headlight and tail light.  After we got back we were wishing there was more.  If this is something you want to do check out the schedule at  ridethehiawatha.com. 

While we were in Wallace our days were spent exploring and the afternoons were spent enjoying the little town, checking out the breweries and just enjoying hanging around the campground.  

During one of the afternoon walks with Eris the Court’s bailiff asked us to bring Eris to the courthouse he had a cookie. He told us to go ahead and bring her in and he meant all the way in up the marble stairs and up to the lobby area where he could give her a treat. He said they are very proud of not having a dog policy. The hospitality in the whole town was amazing, for a second I thought we were in the south.

Bottomline, if heading west and you are like us and don’t have concrete plans be sure to do a stopover in Wallace, Idaho.  If we had time we would be heading back there.  

Next week’s blog we are skipping ahead to the Seattle area as there wasn’t much to be said about where we were in eastern Washington, because we were fleeing the heat.  

So until next week keep exploring, discovering and dreaming, whether you are traveling or staying in place.  

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

PS if you would like to purchase any of my photo’s, email me and I will be happy to sell you some.  I will be reopening my Etsy store in the near future as well, selling cards and magnets of my prints. Look out for that coming soon.

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Email: hlmichaudphotography@gmail.com

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