I have always been one to save a penny wherever I can. When I first started traveling regularly, saving money was like a game to me. I’d ask myself, “how can I spend as little as possible, while still seeing as much as possible?” In the beginning this was great. I’d spend $12 a night on a hostel where I would share a room with countless other humans, but where I saved in dollars I paid for in energy.
Don’t even get me started on the two times I “slept” in the airport to get the cheaper flight.
I quickly discovered a good nights sleep while traveling is worth far more than a cheap hostel (or flight.) I still find other ways to save, and I will search for cheap places to sleep, but I also don’t mind spending a little more on proper accommodations. The newest lesson I have learned is that spending more to stay closer to a desired destination is also worth the extra money.
When I decided I wanted to hike in the Sawtooth Mountains, I checked for accommodations close to the wilderness. Granted, the options were slim as the towns surrounding this area are quite small, but I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money. When I settled on the town of Challis, I didn’t think the hour and 20 minute drive to the Sawtooth area would be a big deal. For the most part it wasn’t, but when trying to beat the heat it made for very early wake up calls.
Staying so far from the wilderness meant we spent more time in Challis than I thought we would.
Challis is likely the smallest town I have ever stayed in, but our Airbnb was modest, adorable, and enjoyable to be inside of. We spent a handful of days lounging as it was too hot to go outside and there wasn’t much to do in the area. I got a little restless at times, so I expended that energy by going for morning runs or evening walks while trying to get a lay of the land.
This didn’t take long, and by the end of our time in Challis I felt like I knew all the roads.
The town is nestled between the mountains, and I only wish there were more accessible trails in the area. There were plenty of private trails, which is great for those who own the properties, but limited access for people like me who want to explore the nearby mountains. Instead I spent some time in the town cemetery where I saw plenty of deer and unique birds.
I also found a small park with a lake for people to fish in.
I did enjoy running in this town. The small country roads are very peaceful, and the farmland fields and animals always bring a warmth to my soul. The heat was brutal at times, but my favorite way to explore a new area is by foot or by bike. I spent the remainder of these lounge days watching movies or playing Monopoly, which admittedly was difficult for me multiple days in a row. I don’t love downtime, but I sometimes do TOO much when I travel.
Downtime allowed me to feel refreshed and ready to come back to real life after this vacation.
All in all Challis was an enjoyable town for a short term stay. Time seemed to move slower here, and life felt simple. The houses weren’t fancy, the cars weren’t expensive, the yards were slightly run down, but it had a carefree charming vibe I find myself longing for in my own life. We make things way too difficult at times, always needing more. When in reality, oftentimes less is more.
I don’t think I’ll stay in Challis again (the grocery store had slim pickings for my needs), but I’m glad I experienced it once. Next time I visit this area I hope to stay in Stanley, or better yet I hope to camp the entire time. I’m thankful for the time to press pause while here though, and to savor the quiet moments.
Q: Do you spend much time resting on vacation, or do you prefer to be doing things most days? I definitely prefer to be doing things most days, but a day here and there to recoup is welcomed.
16 thoughts on “Challis, Idaho”
Grace @ Cultural Life
It looks like a beautiful area! It’s a shame a lot of trails are private though. I read a book by Ken Ilgunas about his campaign to open up more of America for people to enjoy. In Scotland (and several Scandinavian countries) there’s actually a ‘right to roam’ law which means people have the right to walk anywhere and wild-camp, as long as they treat the land respectfully.
When I’m away, I like to have a good balance between active and quieter days. I’m used to exercising most days so I start feeling lethargic if I don’t have a good walk or run!
I love that right to roam law, I can see how some people wouldn’t like it though. If it were my direct backyard it would be weird, but passing close by to get to a mountain should be open for all!
I’m with you on the lethargy, I need to move my body daily. If I have an active morning I could lounge all afternoon and evening no problem.
Grace @ Cultural Life
Ah yes, private gardens and backyards are definitely off-limits in the law. It’s more to protect access to open spaces.
Scotland has some beautiful mountain scenery. 🙂 Have you ever been?
I have indeed. I’ve been twice, the first time was to walk the West Highland Way, and to visit the Isle of Skye. It was nothing short of life changing.
The second time was just more of a quick getaway while I was living in Germany. Five days around Edinburgh, Sterling, and more into the Highlands. Scotland has a very large piece of my heart. ❤️
I sprinkle days off into my bike tours but not nearly enough. I get bored sitting around, even though I’ve never taken a day off in a town as small as Challis.
As for hostels, they can be hit or miss. Richmond Va has a very nice one. Miami Beach has one a block from the ocean (for $25!). Others I’ve stayed in were meh.
Most of the European hostels I stayed in were great, but I now won’t stay in them if there are more than 4 people to a room. Sleep is non existent after that.
I much prefer to be doing things but latterly, as my trips have become more centred around hiking or cycling, I’ve come to value factoring a low-key afternoon or two into a trip. For the past couple of trips, I’ve left half a day/a full day free between returning from holiday and going back to work, as it allows me to feel more rested and catch up on the boring (but necessary) household chores like laundry. (On one occasion, I caught an overnight train back from Cornwall to London and went straight into work, as I wanted to maximise my time exploring. Never again!)
I used to do the whole “straight back to work” thing a lot when I was younger. Never again. Two days are a MUST for me at the end of a vacation. Absolute must.
Definitely like a balance, if I have heavy day then I like a day of aimlessly wandering, then back to a scheduled day, heavy , aimless and so on. Love the photos 👏👏🙌
Aimless wandering is my favorite. Still active, but not intense! I assure you though, next vacation we take will be much less heavy. 😂
For a brief minute I read this as Chehalis and I thought wow cool, Idaho has a Chehalis too…
Looks like a super beautiful place.
Rest time during travel, by the way, becomes more imperative the older I get. Funny how that works…
HA, Challis – Chehalis…same difference!
I have found that sometimes the oddest little places allow me the pleasure of discovery.
Me too! Staying open for this kind of adventure is certainly worthwhile.
I swear we’re twins… I usually try to do too much on vacations too. There are sights to see! Places to walk! Foods to eat! Culture to experience! ……and then I often come back feeling like I need to rest and recuperate from the vacation before diving back into real life. 🙈 I’m learning to incorporate both, so I love this post and your reminder that it’s okay — and even good! — to truly do nothing but relax some days on a vacation.
PS Your photos are gorgeous!!! The scenery looks so different from what I imagined Idaho to be. Granted, I didn’t have much of anything in mind… Mainly fields and prairies, I guess? But it looks striking and beautiful!
I don’t know what I expected with Idaho, but I agree this was not it. It was much dryer than I anticipated too.
I have learned I need at LEAST two days at the end of a vacation to recoup before going back to work. Non negotiable!