Life off Interstate 84 - Idaho

The BondyWeb in Mountain Home

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(19 April 2014)  My name is Tim Bondy and the owner of this website.  As of Jan 1st, 2014 we moved to a different domain.  Please head over to the Bondy Blogs Website at  Different address, different system but same type of great articles, photos, stories and information. 

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Idaho Outdoor News

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New Idaho Topo Maps for Outdoor People

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Idaho Topo Maps for Rock Hounds, Hunters, Hikers and ATV Folks – They Are Free

Idaho Topo Map Header

The United States Geological Survey is in the process of creating new topographical maps for Idaho...and the most of the US. These new generation maps now include satellite imagery along with the usual elevation contours. This might or might not be a great thing for outdoor enthusiasts such as hikers, rock hounds, ATV'er and hunters.

My Review of the New Topo Maps
I'm a little disappointed with the new generation maps for the following reasons:
  • They have eliminated some (a lot) place names from the maps
  • Old mine sites are not included and this might be a concern for rock hounds.
  • Elevation contours numbers are not marked as frequently as the old maps and peaks do not have their elevation indicated.
  • Currently available for only southern Idaho.

What I like about the new generation Topo Maps
  • The visual display is easier to read. They are digital and much cleaner than the old maps.
  • The satellite data overlay helps visually fill in data such as unmarked roads and trails.
  • They are free to download but so are the old topo maps.
  • Currently available for for most of the Owyhee Mountains and Desert.

How to Download Topo Maps
1. Go to the USGS Map Locator website at:
2. Zoom in to the general location you would like to explore and get maps.

New Topo Map Locations in Idaho

3. Click the orange button and take note where the "red hashed" areas are.
4. Zoom in even closer to find the exact location you want maps.
5. Click the "MARK POINTS" radial button on the right side of the page.
6. Click on the map to drop a marker. Click the marker and download the map to your computer.
7. Open the map in your favorite PDF program.

Visual Comparison of Maps

Old Topo Map of Little Half Moon Pass in the Owyhee Mountains
Old style Idaho Topo Map

New Topo Map of Little Half Moon Pass with Satellite Imagery
New Style Topo maps for Idaho

New Topo Map of Little Half Moon Pass without Satellite Imagery

From what I can gather, these new topo maps will be updated about every 3 years. It sounds like they will also be including more place names as the technology matures.

What Are Your Thoughts
So...what do you think of these new maps? I'd like to hear what your experience is. Would you rather use the old version or the new version. Leave a comment and/or pass this article on to others who may not know about the USGS Store and the free maps they provide.

Tim Bondy

The Bondyweb.Com author

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 December 2010 19:14

WARNING: E. coli Contaminated Water at the Cove Recreation Area at CJ Strike

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The Bureau of Land Management has issues a warning to campers, fishers and boaters the drinking water supply at the Cove Recreation Site is contaminated with E. coli. No water will be available at this popular spot on the CJ Strike Reservoir until the source of the problem can be found and fixed.

CJ Strike Reservoir Site Water Contaminated

The Cove Recreation Site is located off Highway 78 about 15 miles from Grand View, Idaho.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this Idaho outdoor article.

Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 August 2010 09:03

Crystals of Silver City Idaho Area Rock Hounding Trip

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Silver City Mountains of Idaho

On Friday, August 13th 2010 we headed back to the Silver City, Idaho area for some more quartz crystal hunting. Our last rock hounding trip to this area was on June 27th and it was so productive we decided to head back there armed with a little more information. We now call this area "War Eagle Flats" and it's located about 0.5 mile, as the crow flies, south of War Eagle Mountain.

The Trip to War Eagle Flats
We unloaded the Arctic Cat at the end of the pavement of the Silver City Road and headed up toward New York Summit. This road is quite smooth but getting dusty as condition are drying out. Once you drop over the summit you'll need to turn left at 43.027405, -116.722945 on a dirt road that gets progressively rougher and steeper as you approach War Eagle Flats.

The views along this road are great as you travel though the pine forest with sweeping views across the Snake River Plains in many spots. So take a camera and record some "Kodak Moments" along the way. After all, rock hounding isn't just about the rocks but should also be enjoying the great outdoors too. You'll pass by the old Fairview Miners Cemetery where you can see a few headstones from this 1870's landmark. The views from here are more than "fair"...more like "spectacular".

Fairview Miners Cemetery near Silver City Idaho

The last ¼ miles of the road before getting up on the flats gets very rough, rocky and rutted but the views really open up to the north at this point also. Once up on War Eagle Flats you'll see dirt roads criss-crossing the area and the many mine tailings. Again some on private land, some on claimed land but also some on open land.

What We Found
We found lots of quartz crystals. Most of them in the 1-2 inch range and mostly broken up. But there were there were the few gems we found that made the trip a memorable rock hounding adventure. But just because most of the rocks we found weren't large or perfect doesn't mean they aren't "show" quality stuff. Some of the rocks are chocked full of small crystals and cool stuff like chalcedony.

Rock hounding finds from War Eagle Flats in Idaho

War Eagle Flats
Coordinates: 43.001008, -116.703991
Elevation: ~ 7,700 feet
Description: War Eagle Flats is a large open area on the south flank of War Eagle Mountain in the Silver City area. There are many old mine tailings in this area and "some" sit on public land so rock hounding is legal. Many of these tailings are on private or legally claimed lands so you have to do your homework before heading up there.
- A bag to place your rocks in.
- A digging tool but this isn't really necessary as most cool rocks are sitting on the surface. No reason to dig into this semi-sensitive alpine soil.
- Google Earth.
- The GeoCommunicator website
- A GPS Unit to keep you on public land.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this rock hounding adventure.

Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author

Last Updated on Monday, 23 August 2010 06:19

Dismal Swamp Idaho Rock Hounding Trip Report – Aug 2010

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Views along the road to Dismal Swamp

Quartz crystals and some excellent smoky quartz specimens were what we were after on this Boise National Forest rock hounding trip. Dismal Swamp is located roughly 20 road miles north of Featherville, Idaho off Trinity Ridge Road. The road to "Dismal" is scenic and can be done in a regular truck but it does get rocky and rough in certain sections. We decided to do the trip in our Arctic Cat 500 ATV and headed out from the Featherville River Hotel at about 9:30am. It took us about 1.5 hours to get into the Dismal Swamp area as we stopped a few times to enjoy the mountain views plus we try to keep our speed to less than 20mph.

From experience, we know this area can be crowded at times and very buggy so we tend to stay away from the true "Swamp" area. We also don't like slogging through the stream and ripping up the ground just to harvest a few smoky quartz crystals. We also know that some excellent specimens can be found laying on the dirt roads so we did some road walking and did find one small but beautiful crystal.

Our destination was a little used dirt road southwest and below Dismal Swamp called National Forest Service Road 290 where we have found a number crystals on previous trips. Once we got down to this road we did some road walking along it in hopes of finding the "low hanging fruit". But we didn't find any crystals on the road this time. We eventually made our way to a little known area where small crystals can be found in the loose soil or occasionally laying on the surface. We call this place "Crystal Rock".

Dismal Swamp Rock Hounding Secret Weapon

Crystal Rock Hounding
Crystal Rock is really just an area with some low rock outcroppings just above the road. Today we brought a new secret weapon called a "colander". The colander sort of takes the place of heavy soil sifters but can be bought at any store that sells ordinary kitchen utensil. Total cost for this secret weapon was $2.16, is light weight but is less effective than the wood framed, wire mesh soil sifter. After working the area over with the colander for a while we started searching the rock faces. We found a few nice vugs and broke out the hammer and chisel. But chiseling into rocks is tough work and requires a delicate touch at times. Delicate and hammer are not two words that fit together in my hands. But we got a few half broken crystals out of the vugs we mined.

Coordinates of Crystal Rocks: 43.717865, -115.379500
What we found: a number of small crystals ranging from clear to smoky blue to cloudy gray.

Rock City Crystal Area Hounding
We moved on down the road to search a new area I found on Google Earth. This area looks promising as there is large quantity of pure white quartz laying all around. Searching the big boulders in the area one can find large vugs in the base rock containing translucent and smoky quartz with embedded crystals. There are signs that other rock hounds have found this place but it will take work extracting the crystals. With hammer and chisel, we dug into a promising looking vug where we chipped and forcefully removed some partial crystals.

Dismal Swamp Quartz Crystal Vug

This was quite a fun and memorable trip for us. We got experience in locating vugs, digging into them and learned how not to chisel and hammer on this area's quartz crystals. The important thing would be to learn how not to break the crystals or act like a bull in a china shop. Eventually I'll learn the proper technique.

Coordinates of Rock City Crystal Area: 43.716715, -115.378842

What does the Dismal Swamp Area Look Like
I took two "on the ATV" videos while riding out of this area. The 1st half of the video is a ride on the main road going through Dismal Swamp. The second half is from the area we did all of our rock hounding and quartz crystal finding. Note: For some reason, the two videos portions got out of order when I uploaded it. Also in the narration I said we were north of Dismal Swamp? I should have said southwest of Dismal. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what "The Swamp" looks like and you'll give it a try. We were very lucky on this Tuesday August 10th, 2010 afternoon to have the whole area to ourselves. We could plainly see no one else had driven down the road from the time we got into the area (11:00am) to the time we left around 4:00pm.

Dismal Swamp Area Video from 10 August 2010

Other information you might like to know:
  • The road into Dismal Swamp is NFS Road 290 or Deadman Creek.
  • Coordinates to turn west off Trinity Ridge Road: 43.723444, -115.361610
  • Tools and stuff we used: Rock hammers, chisel, mini-sledge hammer, rock bag, water, GPS unit, digital camera, water and some water.
  • Dismal Swamp is notorious for horse flies and mosquitoes. You've been warned.
  • I've heard it is illegal to dig in certain sections of Dismal Swamp due to environmental concerns. Research the rules if you plan on rock hounding in the stream or swamp itself.
  • There appears to be mining claims in this area. Do your homework before embarrassing yourself or getting into a spat with the law or claimants.
  • Have fun and explore the area. You never know what you will find just off the beaten path but be kind to the land. Not too sure hammering on rocks is exactly being kind but don't think it's all that damaging.
  • Walk the roads in the area. You'll find some amazing crystals if you're lucky.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this Dismal Swamp Rocking Trip.

Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author

Last Updated on Monday, 16 August 2010 07:25

4 Fishing Holes on The Boise River

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On Wednesday August 11th, 2010 I went fishing on the South Fork of the Boise River upstream or east of Featherville, Idaho. This is my trip report with video, coordinates of where I fished and some pictures.

It was a cloud day, unusual for this time of the year and rain was in the forecast for this ATV fishing trip up "The South Fork". Starting at the Featherville River Motel I headed slowly upstream along the gravel road that follows this river for miles and miles. It wasn't long before I started seeing good places to fish. The 1st few places I stopped, I found the scramble down to the river was steeper and a little more precarious than I wanted.

Video of the 4 Fishing Holes

South Fork of Boise River Fishing Hole #1
1st fishing hole on Boise River 

Coordinates: 43.610968, -115.230128
Fish Caught: None
Walk to river: About 100 yards
Description: This area of the South Fork of the Boise looked to be a great place to fish. There were a few pools visible from the road and access was down a well worn path to the river. I fished the 2 small pools and a couple other places in this area. While the water looked productive, I didn't see or catch any fish. The water was quite warm as I waded in up to my waist in a couple places. As with all the places along this stretch of the river, the scenery was quite beautiful. By the sight of fire rings, trash and well worn path, I'm sure this area also get some heavy fishing pressure but I'm sure someone with better fishing skill would have better luck than I did.

Fishing Hole #2
2nd fishing hole on Boise River near Featherville

Coordinates: 43.609811, -115.225826
Fish Caught: None but a few lure followers so I know there are fish in this stream.
Walk to river: 20 feet
Description:  Fishing hole 2 is located not too far upstream from fishing hole #1 and is located just off the South Fork Road. This long narrow eddy looked like a natural place for some rainbow trout to hang out. The water was very clear giving me a good opportunity to watch my lure spin and track through the pool. I got a few hits and saw fish (and they saw me) following my lure. Pretty place to fish but the trout were smarter than me.

Fishing Hole #3
fishing hole 3 on Boise River

Coordinates: 43.610859, -115.152973
Fish Caught: 2 small rainbow trout...minnows really
Walk to river: About 40 yards from the semi-primitive campsite
Description:  Fishing hole 3 is located a considerable distance from the first two fishing holes. The South Fork Road was getting busier and I wanted to get away from the traffic and dust clouds so passed up a number of promising looking places for a little more solitude. Then I came upon a nice looking campsite located a respectable distance from the road and a nice looking pool below some heavy rapids. I pulled into the campsite and walked down the bank onto a rough stone beach. I changed out my yellow Panther Martin lure with an old favorite orange Panther Martin. It didn't take long before I got a few hits. In 20 minutes I fished this pool, I caught two very small rainbow trout and then it was over but at least I caught some fish! But time to move on.

Fishing Hole #4
Fisnging Hole 4 on South Fork of the Boise River

Coordinates: 43.600743, -115.048092
Fish Caught: None
Walk to river: 20 feet down a short boulder bank.
Description:  I continued upstream on the South Fork of the Boise River and past the Baumgartner Campground. This campground is huge and I figured the fishing around this popular place would be bad so I continued east along the river. There is a semi-large portion of the river that is private property where the road moves away from the river. Eventually, the road connects up with the river as you head into Camas County and the scenery becomes more wild. Fishing hole #4 is located right next to the South Fork Road. The water here is crystal clear and it's more of a deep calmer area than a pool. I fished this area for about 15 minutes but had equipment problems and associated line tangles. I saw a few fish following my lure right up to the bank but never caught a fish. The line on my reel was tangling badly and I discovered I had only about 75 feet of string left. Guess all the fishing last year depleted the 150 yards I put on? In any case, I had had enough fishing...and lack of catching for the day.

The rocks in this area are quite cool, geologically speaking. Some of the big boulder have huge quartz intrusions cross-crossing their entire girth. I suspect there is a rock hounding opportunity in this area but I will leave that adventure for another day.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this fishing trip report.

Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author

Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 06:29

Danskin Mountain Rock Hounding Trip

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Our July 11th, 2010 Rock Hounding Trip Review
We were looking for a "close to home" rock hounding adventure for this weekend and we decided on a trip into the Danskin Mountains just north of Mountain Home, Idaho. The Danskins are not known for their abundant gem quality rocks and I doubt many collectors  even bother heading into this area. While researching our trip, we found references that said the Danskin Mountain are a sterile portion of the Idaho Batholith. We didn't let this little piece of research scare us away and neither should it scare you away from any part of Idaho in pursuit of cool and fascinating rocks, gems and minerals.

Tim Bondy in the Danskin Mountains of Idaho
Tim with Prairie, Idaho in the distant background

The Danskin route we took once we parked the truck and rolled out our Arctic Cat ATV was National Forest Service Road (NFR) 167 to NFR 192 and then up NFR 325. From the map work and research I did, I know there was some old mining claims from the 1980's starting at the intersection of NFR 192 and NFR 325 road and then all along the lower portions of NFR 325. And sure enough, the rocks along NFR 192 started changing from your basic lava rocks to quartz and feldspar rockiness and this is always a good sign when rock hounding.

What We Found
At the top of a ridge where NFR Road 325 starts heading south, we found some awesome views of the "Prairie prairie" above the South Fork of the Boise River canyon and surrounding mountains. A magnificent view can be had from the high point of 5,256 feet along this mountain. We named this long but prominent ridge line "Devils Hole Mountain" taken from the creek name in this area.  My story, my right to give the mountain any name I choose...Right?

Danskin Mountains feldspar and quartz rocks
Just some cool looking rocks we found on Devils Hole Mountain

As far as rock hounding finds? We found a lot of cool looking rocks along NF Road 325. Most of the rocks are a conglomerate of feldspar, quartz (some small crystals), mica and opal. We brought home some very cool looking rocks but nothing a serious collector would get excited about. I suspect a person with lots of energy, a hammer and chisel and patience would uncover some small gem quality specimens.

Getting There and Tools to Find Devils Hole Mountain Rock Hounding Spot
Coordinates: 43.461654, -115.702329
Tools to find this spot: Google Maps will work but Google Earth is a much better program and it's free.
Road Conditions: Forest Service Road 167 to the intersection of Road 192 is an easy and semi smooth gravel road. Once you start heading north on NF Road 192 you'll want to either walk, ATV or beat up your 4-wheel drive truck at a speed of 10 mph or less. When you start up NF Road 325, you'll not want to be in any vehicle as it's rough, steep in spots but an ATV or motorcycle works just great.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this outdoor article.

Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author

Last Updated on Monday, 12 July 2010 20:21

Silver City Mountains ATV Ride Rock Hounding

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Turntable Mountain Silver City Idaho area
Click to see a bigger photo of Turntable Mountain

June 27th, 2010 was our day to head up to the mountains near Silver City, Idaho. We never had plans to visit this active ghost town but we got to see it from the southeast flank of War Eagle Mountain. We were out for some sightseeing, rock hounding and exploring a new portion of Idaho. And we accomplish these goals.

Normally we try to stay on the "roads and trails less traveled" but after most of the snow melts in the Silver City Mountains, the road less traveled is hard to find. SUV's, ATV's, motorcycles and hikers crawl out of the woodwork and descend on this area. That's not to say we had traffic jams or couldn't find solitude because we did but the people of Idaho certainly enjoy getting out into the wilds. Our route took us from "the end of the paved portion of the Silver City Road" to just below Turntable Mountain not far from Hayden Peak.

Rock Hounding Along Our Route
For the most part there wasn't any interesting rocks to be seen until we turned southeast off the Silver City road and headed up Slaughterhouse Gulch. As we slowly made our way up this dirt road, the geology, scenery and rocks all got better. While the vast majority of this road is on pubic land, there is a lot of land with mining claims located on them. So it's more of a "look, but don't collect" area.

Quartz Crystals from the Sikver City Idaho area
Click to see a bigger picture of these cool rocks

Once you get out far enough though, the mining claims peter out and there are places where you can find some quite amazing rocks. Basically you have to get to the southeast of War Eagle Mountain before doing any serious collecting. There are a lot of quartz crystals and amazing looking rocks to be collected. And the best part, these specimens are located right on the surface so little to no digging is required to pocket this "low hanging fruit" as I call it. If you head up into this area I suggest you do some research on where you can and more importantly where you cannot rock hound. I can point you to some good areas if you use my Contact Us form for this website.

Slaughterhouse Road and the other connecting roads we took were in relatively good shape and mostly dry. We encountered about 6 or 7 trucks/SUV's on this dirt road but I certainly wouldn't take my truck in this rough but passable area. Heck, most of the time we keep our speed down to 10 MPH or less and we were on our Arctic Cat ATV.

Scenic Silver City Mountains
These mountains are quite magnificent. Starting in the desert with its sagebrush and canyon scenery along the Owyhee Front gradually leads you into the higher elevations where pines tree become the dominate vegetation. And all this change in less than 20 road miles. There are places where you get a grand view of the entire Snake River Valley and this vista stretches northward into the Boise National Forest. Then there is a place where we were looking southeast towards what I think were the Jarbidge Mountains and into Nevada. When you hear the old statement, on a clear day you can see forever...well on this near cloudless but semi-hazy day, the visibility was likely in the 75-100 mile range.

This was one of the most pleasant ATV trips we have ever had. With temperatures in the Treasure Valley approaching 90 it was a comfortable low to mid-70's for most of the day in the higher elevations. The gravel portion of the Silver City Road was is very good condition and suitable for almost any vehicle. Just be careful out there on the crowded weekend. Motorcycles, and ATV's are sharing the road with you but some people drive like there isn't anyone else on the road. And if you are an ATV'er or motorcyclist, drive responsibly or the life you lose may be your own. Let's just say some people are dumb asses and a select few are "double dumb asses".
Live long and prosper

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this outdoor article.

Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 18:51

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