The mystery of an open road and endless horizon captivates my attention as I drive. An endless expanse of sagebrush and rolling lava fields fills my vision. Out of the corner of my eye I see two sets of large dark ears contrasted against the pale yellow light of the evening sky. Slowing my pace I begin to notice dozens of deer on both sides of the road. A stray elk darts behind the nearest hill, stealing my gaze. Pheasants and sage grouse line the road, sometimes resting on the warm asphalt even as I approach, unmoved by the potential danger. Red tail hawks soar above, seemingly brushing against the rising moon. I am at peace.
Today's evening drive followed Red Rd, north of Rexburg to just south of Kilgore. Access to this road just reopened as the high hills have begun to clear of snow. The side routes connected to this main northern route are still off limits until May 1st as the open range has been set aside for wintering elk, deer, and moose. I stopped first at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes; alit by the setting sun, the migrating dunes were quite active today in the moderate wind. Blowing sand created a mesmerizing sight as the edges of these sleeping giants were blurred and morphed. Continuing north I found the access roads to the North and South Juniper peaks, just north of the dunes, the Civil Defense Caves, and Ice Caves. Dozens of other dirt roads such as the Grassy Ridge Rd and 18 Mile Rd branch off Red Rd and venture east and west. Several volcanic domes rise from the valley floor with a few small streams and ponds scattered among the landscape.
Animals were abundant with emerging populations growing as the evening light waned. At first I only saw a few deer, but as I progressed north, dozens of deer appeared as well as a few scattered elk, including a small herd, groups of pheasant, rabbits, bats, hawks, and much more graced me with their presence, each for a small moment.
SLOW DOWN!! I can't emphasize this enough. The set speed limit on much of Red Rd is 50 mph, but had I maintained this speed I would have absolutely hit deer, pheasant, and rabbit. All of which were in the road as I approached and didn't move until I had slowed to a crawl. Because of the decreased speed of my travel I noticed so many animals tucked away in the thick brush and rugged landscape. My main goal with this drive was to find the wintering elk without disturbing them. Gratefully a few appeared along the open road and stopped long enough for me to enjoy the majestic view!
I am amazed what I find on routes I have taken many times before. I didn't know Red Rd crossed a stream at its northern most entrance, nor did I realize just how many dirt roads branched off of this road. As I returned to Rexburg and looked out over the distant flickering lights of the towns, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy, I am home! I am proud to call Idaho home. This state never ceases to surprise and heal me. Travel safe, be wise, use common sense, and enjoy the beauty that we have so abundantly around us!
Enjoy the pictures!!