Northwestern Travelogue

Day 11

September 19, 2005

30 degrees and a sunny forecast coming on. We broke camp and headed southeast through Wyoming and Idaho. What a big flat area of farm lands. The road was long and straight with nothing but hay and other crops and fields as far as the eye could see. It reminded Ken of Kansas.

After a couple of hours we started to see some mountains in the distance. This added some interest to the trip and gave us something to shoot for. Not that the fields didn't have their own beauty but a change was needed.


We arrived at the Landing Zone campground in Arco, Idaho, the first atomic powered city in the world. It started getting its electricity from atomic energy in 1955 but they no longer are powered that way.


The Landing Zone campground is very nice with big shade trees which felt good in the bright sun even though it was only 75 degrees out. The people that run the place are retired from Army Aviation. They have everything set up like a military base. Everything is in military speak such as your camp spot is your landing pad, the speed limit is in VNE (velocity never exceeds), the latrine is the restrooms, time is in 2400 hour format and the decon site is the sewer dump. When the guy helps you park the trailer he uses hand signals like you'd see at an airport. The campground, restrooms and area are very clean and well maintained.

Landing Zone Campground

Landing Zone Campground

We took the afternoon to drive to the Craters of the Moon. It's about nineteen miles south of Arco. It's an area where lava had flowed about 2,000 years ago leaving a black moonscape across the area. We stopped by the visitor’s center and read about the history of the area. Then we took a drive around the park to see the different features. Some of it looked like black melted plastic, some like sharp jagged black rocks and other areas had a very smooth black sand look. It's a very interesting area and well worth a stop if you are in the southern Idaho area.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

It was getting later in the day so we headed back to camp to get cleaned up for dinner. On the way back through Arco we noticed a submarine coning tower. Now that's something you wouldn't expect to see in this area! It turns out that at the nuclear site just north of here is where they train submarine personnel how to run and maintain the nuclear systems on the submarines. When submarine number 666 was decommissioned the coning tower was sent here. They also have a torpedo displayed in the park.

Coning Tower

We had dinner at Pickle's Place and gnawed on the chewiest steak I've ever had. It had good flavor but all you could do was chew the flavor out of it and then spit out the gristle. We would have thought in this area that the beef would be good but maybe it got too close to the nuclear site.

We ended the day doing laundry and planning our next day's trip. We were going to stay here two nights but we've seen all the sights in the area and are ready to head on. We're thinking some place near a stream would be nice. So we'll start looking around Boise, Idaho which is about 170 miles away.