July 21, 2021
In an earlier draft of my plan for this trip, the morning of Day 8 had us checking out of our Idaho Falls hotel and staying the next night somewhere near Grand Targhee, a ski resort we really liked a lot and had talked about retiring to. That plan changed when I discovered that the resort wasn’t going to be open for the summer by the time we were there, and lodging options nearby were a) not open for summer yet either, b) booked up, or c) ridiculously expensive for what they were (think $300 for a Motel 6 type of place). So I redid the plan to keep the Idaho Falls motel a second night and do a loop out and back to pick up some of the nearby counties. Day of, we redid the plan again, putting Driggs as the last stop before returning to Idaho Falls, because that would give us at least a chance of getting to the one museum on my list of possibilities before it closed for the day.
The first stop on our loop was Rigby, where we visited a park that still had some playground equipment in the style that was everywhere in my youth.
Next up was Dubois, which was an even smaller town than Rigby. They did have a nice water tower.
From Dubois, we headed to St. Anthony. We could have retraced our steps to get there via a direct route, but instead we drove backroads through open land. This took us by some sand dunes, which despite all my research ahead of time, I didn’t even know we had in Idaho.
After a quick stop in St. Anthony, we were on to Rexburg, sliding into the museum 45 minutes before it closed, which meant we only saw the last half of the last showing of their main attraction, a movie about the 1976 Teton Dam failure, but there were plenty of exhibits to supplement the movie so we could fill in the parts of the story we missed. We spotted our Idaho Falls motel in some of the images from the flood, though that city was less affected by the water and debris than places further upstream like Rexburg.
It turned out to be a very good thing that we’d changed the plan and put Rexburg where we did, as that meant when we saw the small sign on the way to Driggs that said “Teton Dam Site”, we knew what that was talking about and turned off to see it. I had expected to see just the river and a marker where the dam was, but it turned out that the remains of the dam were still there, 45 years later, including the spillway that wasn’t yet in operation when the dam failed. There was no marker explaining what happened there. Perhaps there was one at one time, as there was a small paved parking lot that looked like a good place for that sort of thing.
We drove up to Grand Targhee from Driggs even though we knew it was closed, figuring we’d see what we could see. Which turned out to be a closed gate to the parking lot, so we pulled over and parked and walked in. Like Brundage Mountain that we stopped at earlier in the trip, Grand Targhee hadn’t changed much since we were last there.
After grabbing dinner down in Driggs, we headed back to Idaho Falls as the sun set.
Day 8 photos are here.