Not going back.

Wonderful Place Not going back

That is right, we are not going back to a wonderful place. It was just too hard, so hard we are not going back. Once and done is good enough. This is not the first time we have declared that we were not going back to some particular place, but it might be the first time that we have decided not going back to a wonderful place.

I am very thankful that this doesn’t happen very often. Overall I can come up with only a handful of places that I put on my do not return list. This is the only one that I can think of that was a wonderful place that we are not going back to because it was too hard to go there.

Now get me right, this place was so nice that if I didn’t have to drive there in a motorhome I would go back. Not only that, it was so nice that it might be a place to settle down. But in our motor home not going back.

This picture was taken north of Orofino before we got to the steep sections of the road. It looks great.
This picture was taken north of Orofino before we got to the steepest sections of the road. It looks great.

Orofino

In our last story, we ended the story with our tale of being stuck on the road with a rock slide in front of us and the campground on the far side of the rock slide. That next morning we drove to Orofino Idaho and found a place to stay for two nights. It was the weekend, and we were lucky to get a spot with electricity. We usually pick shade or electricity we got lucky and had both. This was important because it was getting hot.

Overall Orofino was fine. It is a small town on the west side of the Idaho panhandle. I judge the size of towns by how many grocery stores they have. In Orofino, I found two. For the last hundred miles, the grocery store count was zero. The gas station count was one. Here is a link to our last two posts about crossing Idaho on the path that Lewis and Clark took. Across the Bitterroot Mountains and The Lochsa River

With our kayaks we got to explore a lot more shore line than we could have seen while walking around the lake.
You can see the previous higher water level on this tree that fell probably last winter. The top half still looks alive but the bottom half was submerged for long enough to turn brown.

With our kayaks, we got to explore a lot more shoreline than we could have seen while walking around the lake. This is a big lake and we explored less than one percent of the shoreline.

Flooding

Historically the towns downstream of Orofino had a flooding problem. The main channel of the Clearwater River would join the north fork of the Clearwater River just downstream of Orofino. Nearly every year the combined flow of the Clearwater River would flood the towns. So with the primary objective being flood control Dworshak Dam was constructed north of Orofino and created a huge reservoir.

I love the wave pattern in the water in this picture. Actually the I love the entire picture.
I love the wave pattern in the water in this picture. Actually, I love the entire picture.

When the water started backing up when the dam was finished, it flooded the tiny town of Dent. Now Dent is a small neighborhood at the end of Dent Bridge road and for us, it has a really nice campground called Dent Acres.

Dent wasn’t much as far as towns go. Mr. Dent was named the postmaster in 1896. He named the town after himself. I’m not sure there was ever a post office building. The location was removed from the postal records in 1954. They closed the post office ten years before they decided they needed to create a dam and flood the area.

It seems that all the trees are huge.
It seems that all the trees are huge. The size of these trees is one of the reasons we are not going back. The road is not wide enough for both me and a logging truck carrying up to 55 tons of these monsters.

Not going back

As part of the construction of the dam, the government decided to build a bridge so that access to the north side of the Dworshak reservoir would be possible. Because of the terrain, a suspension bridge was part of the project. Without this bridge, the drive from Orofino to Dent, which was twenty miles would have been way more than 100 miles. In fact, without the bridge, they would have had to make a hundred-mile new road in addition to the pre-existing roads.

Satellite view of the Dent Bridge Road. The end of the bridge is in the upper left. Every curve marks the location of a steep spot. In fact, in this picture, the entire road is steep. This road is the reason we are not going back.
Satellite view of Dent Bridge Road. The end of the bridge is in the upper left. Every curve marks the location of a steep spot. In fact, in this picture, the entire road is steep.

Without the bridge

Without the bridge, we wouldn’t have been able to get there. What I didn’t know was that even with the bridge it was going to be so hard to get there.

A quick glance at the satellite picture will also tell you how the road was laid out in the steep sections. It wasn’t straight at all. Most of Dent Bridge Road uses the same path as the old Dent Road. When building the dam the engineers were looking for the lowest-cost option. Building a huge suspension bridge was the lowest-cost option.

Right of way

When driving in the mountains one of the “rules” is that downhill traffic should yield to uphill traffic. I don’t see that happening very often because most roads are big enough for traffic going in both directions to pass safely. In these constricted areas especially on turns, larger vehicles (me) nearly always need to use the center of the road to keep all their wheels on the road. This is especially true on right turns. So this middle-of-the-road “need” becomes an issue for the right-of-way decisions. We also don’t have the option of backing up because of our tow car. So that problem creates other decisions pertaining to how to safely operate. In the Navy, we would have called this restricted maneuvering.

There is also the consideration of vehicle age. If you are facing a logging truck that is old, dirty, and looks like it has been hit before, you can conclude the driver doesn’t care about the above right-of-way rules.

A new bridge, on an old road

Really the reason we are not going back is that the road (Dent Bridge Road) is not friendly. It is too narrow for two RVs to travel and cross paths except in a few places. It is also very steep. Grades on this road are 9% and sometimes exceed 10%. The curves on the road ensure that in a large RV you will not be able to stay on your side of the road. To stay safe on this road you need to take it slow. For us, it took more than an hour to travel twenty miles. Most of the time I was climbing or descending in first gear.

Crossing the Dent Bridge. This has to be the loneliest bridge in the entire country.
Crossing the Dent Bridge. This has to be the loneliest bridge in the entire country.

Understanding road grades

A typically steep road will have a grade rating of 5-6%. This means that for each one hundred feet of travel you will climb or descend five or six feet. Six feet per hundred is a moderately steep road. Ten feet per hundred, especially on a switchback, is a very steep road. We have been on some steeper roads, but not in the RV.

Sometimes road signs are understated. Not this one. It is the number one reason we are not going back.
Sometimes road signs are understated. Not this one. It is the number one reason we are not going back.

Logging Trucks

Logging trucks in this area drive this road very fast, much faster than we do. I am very glad we only crossed paths with one truck on our way in and didn’t see any on the way out.

This lake is so pretty (or perhaps it is pretty at this time of year).
This lake is so beautiful (or perhaps it is only beautiful at this time of year).

Suspension Bridge

I mentioned that the government built a bridge to cross the lake. It is more than fifteen hundred feet long and saved more than one hundred road miles. The one thing that Dent Bridge lacks is lots of traffic. Mostly it is used by the previously mentioned logging trucks, a few locals, and tourists (like me) heading toward Dent Acres Campground.

On one of our evening paddles we tried to get to the bridge. This picture was taken at our closest point.
On one of our evening paddles, we tried to get to the bridge. This picture was taken at our closest point. We were not close.

Great Campground

Too bad we won’t go back because Dent Acres was a wonderful campground. It is on a south-facing slope and overlooks the water. The reason people go here is to play in the water. From the campground, you can explore the lake and play in the water. Fishing and waterskiing are typical when staying there. For us, even though the mid-afternoons were hot, we would typically go for an after-dinner paddle in our kayaks. To the west of the campground, there was a forest service road that was perfect for a mountain bike.

Tami out enjoying the lake. You might think that with such a great bridge that it would have been easy to get here.  The entire reason that we are not going back is because it is hard to get here.
You might think that with such a great bridge that it would have been easy to get here. The entire reason that we are not going back is that it is hard to get here.

The lake is so large and the places to stay on the lake are so few that some solitude is nearly guaranteed. If you have the right type of boat you could explore the Clearwater Arm of the lake. Starting at the dam you would be going more than fifty miles before you get to the river. You would also be going fifty miles without any nearby roads.

Maybe we should just stay in town

If we get near here again, maybe we should just stay in town. Because we were up at Dent Acres we didn’t explore the attractions of the dam or fish hatchery. Instead, we just chilled in our semi-private paradise knowing that we were not going back to this location.

If you go to Dent Acres, and it really was nice, I hope you are driving a truck with a lightweight trailer. Maybe two trucks would be in order, one for the trailer and the second one for the boat.

Some more links about and with our Hurricane Prima Kayaks

Kayak Adventures

Hurricane Kayaks

Lake Crescent

Not going back

The Bitterroot Valley

Links

Dent Acres Recreation Area

Dent Bridge

Dworshak Dam

Orofino Idaho

12 thoughts on “Wonderful Place Not going back”

  1. Nice read Scott. Sound like you encounter occasional difficulties that are almost beyond your helicopter flying abilities.

    1. It was not the worst place we have gone. It rather was the best place we have gone with the worst way to get there.

      Had we encountered a logging truck on that decline we would have had to stop and remove the car, (towed behind the RV) in order to get on our own side of the road.

      Scott

  2. We were in Orofino 3 weeks ago driving to the dam & on the other side of the outflow inspecting.

    Had dropped the rig @ another camp up river thinking it might be nice.

    Since we lived in logging county it was obvious that not far past the end of pavement was not going to be good.

    Decided to skip it & stay where we were.

    Sounds like you had a good time once settled in.

    Note log trucks seldom work weekends. Unlikely carrying 55 tons which is a bit over their 40-ton’ limit’.

    Mot

    1. I took the weight limit of the bridge and transferred it to the logging trucks. Not that they are concerned about things like that.

      Scott

  3. I laughed at your “never “ going back. I have learned to never say”never “.

    Forty-one years ago, I married my husband who promptly moved me from my secure prairie (Norman,OK) to the No Mans Land of the Oklahoma panhandle. We lived there for 3 years. Moving to NE Oklahoma when our son was 12 days old (that’s another story after having a c-section).

    I said I would “never “ live on the prairie again! I ate those words 12 years ago, when we decided to move to Oklahoma City!

    Our original plan was to move to Colorado when Terry retired. So 4 years ago, we bought our summer home near Cripple Creek. We are going back to the prairie home briefly on Thursday.

    We will be leaving the prairie on Saturday for a week-long visit to our son’s in the Louisiana swamp. Another place I said “never “ about.

  4. We were leaving Sequoia National Park pulling our 33’ 5th wheel.

    There were two routes to get to our next destination. The shortest route – by about 75 miles – posted a sign: trailers longer than 30 feet not recommended. “What’s 3 feet,” thought I. Quite naively. You can guess the rest.

    Very slow tight curves that required both lanes, and took much more time than the alternate route. Live and learn.

  5. This is exactly how we feel about this summer’s travels in Alaska.

    We have loved it here…but getting here is arduous, and our age, combined with so many other areas still to explore, is making us say “this is our ONLY trip to Alaska.”

  6. This was stressful just to read. We have been on roads like this and on bridges like that and it is NO FUN. I can completely understand your decision to take it all in, appreciate it, and then leave with no plans to return.

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