Dunanda Falls October 2015


ephemeral excursionist
Jan 17, 2012
Moving to Idaho marked some big changes for our family. A rather big one was Spencer graduating from high school. He wasn’t very fond of where we moved to and has been going about doing the adult thing living away from home. As mom this makes me sad and happy, sad only because it makes it hard for the two of us to spend time adventuring. He is my backpacker, Sarah flat out refuses to go after our Havasupai trip a few years ago. I think the last backpack trip Spencer and I did together was Ashdown Gorge in June of 2013. I have tried to plan a trip up here, and about had both of them convinced to backpack to Aldous Lake this past summer, but that fell through. Mostly because of Sarah’s resistance.

For the summer of 2015 Spencer got a job working in Mammoth Hot Springs in concessions. We drove up a few times to see him. His contract in Mammoth lasted until mid Oct. Some friends I met invited me on a backpack trip to Dunanda Falls. It turned out that Spencer could join us.

My friend Laurel planned the trip for Oct 23-25th. You start this hike from the Belcher Ranger Station approximately 25 miles from Ashton, ID. Two hikers in our group headed out early morning Friday and one joined up with us at camp on Saturday morning, the rest of us met at Dave’s Jubilee in Ashton at noon on Friday. At least that was the plan, Clay was delayed in traffic coming back from Montana where he picked up his son Dawson. But that worked out in Spencer’s favor as we had rented his sleeping bag and pack from BYU-I Recreation Center and needed to pack in the grocery store parking lot. We made it to the ranger station about 3:00PM and started the hike later than we really intended. The goal was to be on the trail by 1:00PM I think we started at 3:20PM.


Some of the packs waiting to be hoisted on our backs.


Spencer and I as we start the hike.


The hike is approximately 10 miles on a fairly flat trail through some gorgeous meadows. The hardest part was carefully balancing yourself and pack as you crossed a pond on a log. I was certain I was going to fall in and soak everything in my pack! What made it hard is that you started out with your poles fully extended making them more than long enough to touch the bottom of the pond but as you moved across the log the fully extended pulls sunk down to your knees and the log became skinnier. Your instinct is to stand up straight and just walk across but balancing the extra weight of the pack on your back leaves you relying on the poles. Second hardest part was the last little stretch to the campsite. I think this was so, simply because we did this part in the dark and we couldn’t see how much farther we need to travel. This last part was also uphill after the majority of the hike was fairly level. Hiking uphill in the dark at the end made the hike in seem a lot longer than it really was.


Balancing act!


It was a bit challenging setting up camp in the dark. I definitely didn’t pick the best spot; it wasn’t bad but after the sun came up I found other places I would rather have pitched my tent. I left it, because I was more interested in our purpose for coming here. Soaking in the hot springs!


Next morning as we prepped breakfast.


First time I have hung my food to keep out of a bears reach. Not convinced this works.

For a short easy hike, the payoff is pretty incredible.


Dunanda Falls




We stayed until Sunday being lazy and soaking as much as we could. It was a bit chilly in October but I managed not to freeze my toes off. I really enjoyed spending the time with Spencer before he headed off to work for the winter in Zion.


Parting shot Sunday morning. If you look closely you can see the Tetons in the background.


Tater Head

Hoo are you looking at?
Jan 29, 2014
Looks like a great trip. I doesn't get much better than spending time with friends and family in the great outdoors. I made it to Union Falls last summer, Dundanda is on my to do list this year.


Dec 23, 2013
@blueeyes - Looks like a great trip and I enjoyed your report. I love the shot of everybody in Bechler Meadows. Did you guys stay at the closest campsite to the falls and what did you think of the site itself?


ephemeral excursionist
Jan 17, 2012
@blueeyes - Looks like a great trip and I enjoyed your report. I love the shot of everybody in Bechler Meadows. Did you guys stay at the closest campsite to the falls and what did you think of the site itself?

I actually have a very cool sequence of shots of the group returning through the meadows. I need to put them all together in a short video and post it.

Yes that is the campground we stayed at and I am glad because it was rather cold when we went and the distance from the hot spring to the camp was just such that by the time I made back up the hill and to my tent I had not cooled off too much. I am notoriously cold at night while camping.

My favorite aspect of that campground was the shitter. :giggle: What an amazing view!!!


ephemeral excursionist
Jan 17, 2012
One of my favorite places; without question the most exotic place I've been in the time zone. The micro-climatic environment of the canyon walls was incredible on this trip ten years ago. Thanks for sharing. Try to make the Ferris Fork some time.

I love your pics! I would love to see this spot in the spring or early summer. And I will check out Ferris Fork. Spencer will be back in Yellowstone working this summer so maybe we will hike to Ferris this time.
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