Hi, my name is Matt, and today I’m going to share more of the Best of the West with you.
Today we’re going to visit Bear Lake, a beautiful turquoise lake in the mountains on the border of Utah and Idaho. Along the way, we’ll visit some small towns and uncover some very interesting stories.
Today we’re visiting the border of Utah and Idaho, which is located between Salt Lake City and the famous national parks in Wyoming. These are all places you could visit on the way to these parks if you’re interested. We’ll start in Tremonton and hit small towns in the mountains on our way to Bear Lake. Then we’ll hit some Oregon Trail sites on our way back across the mountains to Lava Hot Springs. We’ll complete the loop by circling back to a national park site near Tremonton.
Buckle up because in this video we’re going to learn about a World War 2 hero, see some fun animals, ride in the mountains, ride the rails, ride along the Oregon Trail, walk in Napoleon’s footsteps, see the Caribbean of the Rockies, see the most predictable geyser in the world,
Our first stop is the small town of Tremonton, Utah. I’m a believer that just about everywhere has interesting places and stories.Tremonton is no exception.
This little farming town has embraced the arts as many small towns across America have.
This city hires artists to paint murals on the buildings downtown. These murals tell the city’s surprisingly interesting history.
The city has put together a map with all the murals and you can do a walking tour of the town to try to find all of them.
The actual site where the rails met is located nearby and we’ll see it later.
This mural commemorates the nearby manufacturing plant that makes rockets for nasa.
The highlight here is the gorgeous display of the Candy Bomber.
During World War 2, the US dropped food to East Germans who were starving under communist Russian rule in a mission known as the Berlin Airlift.
One of the Berlin Airlift pilots was a man named Gail Halvorsen, from little old Garland, Utah, Tremonton’s neighboring town.
On one of these missions, Gail gave some gum to a few kids and noticed they thought it was the best thing ever. So he promised to bring them back something better next time. He told them to look out for the plane wiggling its wings, from which they’d get a surprise.
He gathered all the candy bar rations he could, tied little parachutes to them, and dropped them to the kids, who noticed the plane with the wiggling wings. Of course, the kids loved it. His superiors did not approve until the stunt hit the news and he became famous.
He became known as both Uncle Wiggly Wings and Candy Bomber, and his inspiring story has been the subject of numerous documentaries and TV specials.
The Candy Bomber went on to live a life of service. Remarkably, Gail Halvorsen is still alive at the age of 101! He has a website full of life advice that I would recommend checking out at wigglywings.weebly.com.
The city of Tremonton commissioned this huge mural of the Candy Bomber a few years ago and invited him to the unveiling ceremony.
This is a great treasure to commemorate a great man who created a great story.
Before you leave Tremonton, do NOT miss out on eating at the Pie Dump. Yep, it’s called the Pie Dump and it’s awesome. It’s famous for its pie, of course, but maybe more so for its donuts.
Brigham City, Utah
Up next is Brigham City, Utah. Downtown Brigham City has two buildings staring across at each other. The tabernacle was built in the 1800s by Mormon pioneers. The temple was built about 10 years ago. Together, they make Brigham’s main street worth a drive and a quick stroll.
Last year we stopped in Brigham for the yearly sheep run. Over 2,000 sheep run down the middle of the road, supposedly so the sheep ranchers can retain their sheep running rights. The sheep go all the way to Tremonton.
Nearby is the very fun Uinta Alpaca Farm. Our kids loved these cute little guys. They are often skittish, but Gemma was the star of the show because she enjoys hanging out with the kids. But be careful bringing your kids here because they’ll all want their own gemma stuffed animal.
Our next stop is Mantua, a beautiful little town tucked away in the mountains. If you’re driving through in the spring, you must stop at the Poppy Patch.
This fun little spot is often used for family and wedding pictures.
Or climb to the top of the hill to overlook the reservoir.
Next up is Brigham City’s bigger brother, Logan. Logan is a bustling little college town that also has a tabernacle and a temple.
The Utah State University campus has to be one of the most gorgeous in the country.
If you come through Logan you must stop at Gosner’s cheese, As well as the Pepperidge Farms factory to buy some Pepperidge farm cookies and goldfish crackers in bulk!
Just about every October here we enjoy the Pumpkin Walk, a fun little event in which the community bands together to make scenes out of pumpkins. This one has famous YouTubers, but for some obvious reason, we didn’t make the cut.
Maybe we need to make our own We’re in the Rockies scene next year.
Logan Canyon, Utah
Beautiful Logan Canyon takes us on a scenic journey through the mountains.
This canyon is very similar to Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but in my opinion, is more scenic.
It takes about an hour to drive the length of the canyon, which has many hikes and cool stops along the way.
Tony Grove is a quaint little lake in the mountains, just perfect for a short walk or picnic.
And the Hobbit Caves are a fun, lesser-known stop with running water where you can scramble around the rocks with the kiddos.
At the end of Logan Canyon is the strikingly turquoise Bear Lake.
Bear Lake is literally on the border of Utah and Idaho and it’s known as the Caribbean of the Rockies.
Bear Lake is a summer resort destination, and you can easily spend a week doing fun family things like riding bikes, playing in the lake, golfing, camping, and 4-wheeling.
The Bear Lake Valley was once an area where mountain men and native americans held rendezvous.
Of course, the highlight of Bear Lake is boating or playing in the lake, but there’s a lot more to do here as well.
Nearby is the Pickleville Playhouse, which bills itself as Utah’s most unique family theater. It puts on dinner and a really good show.
Raspberry Days is held each August, with a cheeky little parade that just about anyone can enter.
And during Raspberry Days you can attend the Laketown Rodeo, which is about as small-town as it gets. My nephew even caught a chicken during the rodeo.
Even the grown-ups get to have fun.
The mountains nearby have many 4-wheeling trails.
Back in the early 1900s, there was one grizzly bear left in the great state of Utah. His name was Old Ephraim, and he was legendarily huge, standing over 10 feet.
He roamed this area terrorizing the locals and their livestock. Finally, one local named Frank Clark killed Old Ephraim in these mountains and lived to tell a tale that has been repeated often.
Old Ephraim was buried where he was killed. You can ride an ATV to a monument that was built on the spot for this famous Griz. His massive skull is on display at Utah State University.
About 30 years after Old Ephraim was killed, a horrifying event happened in these mountains. In 1953, an airplane was carrying soldiers home from the Korean War. It was headed from Seattle to South Carolina in the middle of winter when it crashed into these mountains.
37 Korean War vets died instantly, and the plane virtually disintegrated. Pieces of metal were strewn all over the hollow.
Today, people still find pieces of wreckage around the Hollow, where they often put them by the memorial commemorating the event.
Now let’s cross into the Idaho side of Bear Lake. Here we find the gorgeous Bloomington Lake. This virtually unheard-of lake is really pretty and is a fun place for people to rope swing into the lake.
I haven’t covered Idaho much on our channel yet, but it might be the best-kept secret in the country. It flies under the radar because it doesn’t have any national parks, and people often just think of potatoes when they think about Idaho. That’s fine by them because it means fewer crowds. It’s actually the most mountainous state in the country and has really gorgeous scenery. Lakes like this are everywhere in Idaho, which is one of my very favorite states.
Our next stop is Montpelier Idaho, where we will step back into the Old West with two very interesting historical stops.
The first is the Oregon Trail Center. Yes, the Oregon Trail came right through here. This small town has a really nice educational center, where we get to go on our own Oregon Trail journey.
The first thing we see is the wall of art along the trail.
Then the trail guide gets us ready for our overland journey with some medicine from the apothecary. Then we load up the wagon and join another group for protection.
The medicine we brought, however, was useless in combating the biggest killer on the trail: disease.
You may have died of dysentery in the old video game, but cholera was the bigger killer.
Within a period of 24 hours, you could go from healthy to hurling your way to the grave. One doctor said Indians treated cholera by digging two holes, 20 inches apart. That way the sick individual could “vomit in one hole and purge in the other,” until he died.
The Oregon Trail was not for the faint of heart, but we will see another location up the road that provided a pleasant memory for those hearty pioneers.
Also located in Montpelier is a bank that the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy robbed. This is the actual building, which has been turned into a Butch Cassidy museum which claims to have the very floor Butch walked on.
And every August they celebrate Butch Cassidy days with a reenactment of the robbery.
And remember Old Ephraim? Montpelier has a massive statue honoring this legendary Grizzly. Here’s our softball team posing with Old Ephraim after we played a softball tournament in Montpelier. Our team has been together for over 20 years, and we still
Next up is Preston, Idaho, where the famous movie Napoleon Dynamite was filmed!
Napoleon Dynamite put this tiny town on the map. No joke, in the years after the movie was released, people came from all over the world to Preston to see famous filming locations from the movie.
We loved the movie as well so my fun mother-in-law surprised us with a secret trip to Napoleon’s Town one day.
We loved the movie as well, so we had to check out the town. We did it all: we ate tator tots, saw where the cow was shot, saw Napoleon’s home, Pedro’s home, the bowling alley, where he played tetherball, and the high school.
It’s been almost 20 years, and I kid you not, people still treat these sites as roadside attractions today.
Soda Springs, Idaho
Our next stop is Soda Springs, Idaho, an Oregon Trail site with a quirky attraction.
We’re traveling on the Pioneer Historic Byway, which has Oregon Trail sites as well as some historic Old West buildings, like this store in Henry, Idaho. I’m always amazed that people lived, and continue to live, in such seemingly remote places.
Soda Springs gets its name from its natural carbonated springs. This is Hooper Spring. This is actually a stop on the National Park Service’s Oregon National Historic Trail.
One of these days I’m going to drive this trail and do a video on it.
Emigrants along the trail loved stopping here due to its cold, naturally carbonated water. They added flavorings to the water to make their own Soda Pop.
You can still taste the water today, but be warned – it’s pretty gross. Next time I’ll bring my own flavoring.
Today it’s a cute little city park on the edge of town where you can taste the water, let the kids play on the playground, and see water roaring out of a pipeline.
Soda Springs also has the quirky Soda Springs geyser! Old Faithful’s got nothing on this predictable geyser, which erupts every hour on the hour! That’s because it’s hooked to a timer. But it is an actual natural geyser, strangely enough.
Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Up next is Lava Hot Springs. This is actually the name of a cool little town tucked way in the mountains. It has developed hot springs here that are quite famous around this area. We’ve spent a few weekends visiting Lava, which is pronounced Laava, not Lahva, by the locals.
I don’t have much film of this, but this is a really great stop, and it’s super accessible, located right off the I-15 freeway.
Downata Hot Springs
And nearby is another resort area called Downata Hot Springs that offers camping and water fun.
Golden Spike National Historic Site
Now we’ll circle back to Tremonton, where we began our tour. Our final stop is the Golden Spike National Monument.
If you’re a “parkie,” and like to check off national park sites, you can hit this on your way from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone or Teton.
This is a national historic site commemorating the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. This linked California with the rest of the country and sped up the settling of the West in a big way.
In fact, this is a large reason why Yellowstone was set aside as a national park just 3 years later. With the coming of the railroad, people finally had an easy way to travel out West, without all that puking and dying of cholera, like on the Oregon Trail. Locals in Montana saw an opportunity and quickly lobbied for Yellowstone to be protected so they could entice tourists.
Rails were laid from both directions and met up in this remote spot of land where they used a golden spike as the final nail, which is why it’s called the Golden Spike National Historic Site Today.
I attended the 150th anniversary of the event a few years ago, and it was a major celebration.
So on our journey today we’ve seen planes, trains, and automobiles. I hope you enjoyed your ride; if you want more western journeys, please click that subscribe button.
Until next time, go West young traveler!