Life off Interstate 84 - Idaho

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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. 

You are here: Mtn Home Outdoor Rock Hounding and Gold Panning Rock Hounding and the Motherload

Rock Hounding and the Motherload

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Story about finding the Mother Load on the Boise River

As summer is starting to wind down, we decided to try our luck at some rock hounding above Atlanta, Idaho before the snow starts flying. It turned out to be one of the most scenic and relaxing trip we've ever taken. While the rock hounding wasn't stellar, we found some cool rocks and the motherload of all motherloads. It's not what you think, but read on anyway.

ATV'ing from Outside of Rocky Bar, Idaho
We got a late start out of Mountain Home and headed up to Rocky Bar. From there we headed up James Creek Road about 1 mile to a great little spot to park the truck. It was about 2:00PM by the time we unloaded the ATV and headed up towards James Creek Summit. With temperatures in the low 80's, crystal clear skies and no wind, the ride was wonderful.

From Rock Hounding and Scenic Motherload

Finding Waterfalls and The Creeks
Steel Creek parallels this road for a few miles and there was still water flowing but these creeks were mostly choked in thick brush and are hard to access. Four miles from Rocky Bar the road crosses Elk Creek. The Elk Creek waterfall, located just off the road was flowing strongly and this scenic wonder almost made the whole trip worthwhile in itself. From the Elk Creek waterfalls, the road climbs steeply towards James Creek Summit.

Smoky Quartz to the Middle Fork of the Boise River
Last week I hiked and rock hounded a good portion of the road from Rocky Bar and up towards James Creek Summit. Some locations held promise for finding good rocks but for the most part, this area is located in the infamous Idaho “leaverite shield”. Once we past James Creek Summit we set our sights on some serious rock rounding.

From Rock Hounding and Scenic Motherload

We spent a good amount of time searching in and around the small creeks from the Summit down to the Middle Fork of the Boise. We found some fabulous smoky quartz in most of the locations we stopped. Additional searching, hiking and getting dirty will be required on the next trip up to this area. While we brought home some specimens that required additional examination, there wasn't anything in our rock bag that hasn't already make it into our growing backyard rock quarry.

From Rock Hounding and Scenic Motherload

Finding the “Scenic Motherload” in the Middle Fork
We decided to explore a small logging trail off of James Creek Road. This ATV trail/very rough dirt road headed into an area with many signs telling us it was a “Federal Mining Claim” area. The trail deadended at the Middle Fork of the Boise River. It took us about 3 seconds to decide we found “the motherload”. But this motherload was something more valuable to us than was a platinum “5 star picnic lunch spot”.

Our picnic spot sported a close up view of the blue-green Middle Fork, a white sand beach and glorious view of the rugged mountain surrounding the area. Not only that, but there was a small pool of calm water that was perfect for swimming and cooling off. And the water temperature was just about perfect.

From Rock Hounding and Scenic Motherload

After a nice dip in the Middle Fork of the Boise River, we dined on home cooked roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, stale bagels and cold filtered water while sitting with our feet in the stream. The food wasn't world class, our drinks weren't served in fine crystal goblets and we were not in the bug-free sterile environment of a 5 Star restaurant. But...I challenge anyone, anywhere to offer us a more enjoyable and better tasting meal than we experienced right there on the Middle Fork of the Boise River.

From Rock Hounding and Scenic Motherload

Rocky Mountain Wildflower Dessert
As we headed back towards Rocky Bar, the shadows started lengthening and the air actually had a cool crispness to it. It was like we were seeing the all this scenery for the “first time again”. The roadside, hillsides and the stream valley all the way up to James Creek Summit were filled with wildflowers. It was a perfect way to top off great day in the Boise National Forest.

Comments Are Highly Encouraged
Some people lurk in the depths and some people speak up. My readers would certainly like to hear what you think about the James Creek Road area and the Middle Fork of the Boise River for rock hounding or recreation.

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