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  • Patrick Stoll

Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh (Sort Of)

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

Every spring, snowmelt inundates much of the area bordered by Highway 20 on the north and the Bennett Mountain foothills on the south to create the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh. Named after the beautiful purple-colored camas lily, the area becomes a mecca for birders and photographers from May through mid-June. An internet search will reveal a wide range of stunning photographs made in the area.

I have visited the Marsh on many occasions, usually turning off Highway 20 at the well-marked gravel road at Hill City, Idaho. On Monday, June 3, 2019, I decided to revisit the area. This time, I wanted to see it from a different perspective; to focus my attention more on the upland areas above the Marsh rather than the Marsh itself.

Leaving Boise, I turned off Interstate 84 at Mountain Home and began the drive toward Hill City on Highway 20 (the traditional route to the Sun Valley area when driving from Boise). About 15 miles before Hill City, I turned off on Cat Creek Road. Thunder storms were in the forecast for the afternoon and clouds were building up in the north. I drove around the backroads, an eye out for good locations.

At one point I found a meadow area full of all types of wildflowers. According to my map, a creek that flowed through the area was Camas Creek. As I started scouting around the meadow, a trio of dogs came running toward me. One looked like a Great Pyrenees and the others appeared to be mixed breeds. I assumed that a herd of sheep must be nearby - not surprising since Hill City was once a major stop on the Oregon Short Line Railroad (it's been claimed that, in the early 20th century, more sheep were shipped out from Hill City than anywhere else in the world). Sheepherders and their wagons are a common sight in the area. Accompanied by the dogs, I hiked back to my car and continued exploring the area.

At one point, I did end up at the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh but decided I liked the meadow area I had discovered earlier a bit better. I decided to return to the upland areas I had passed through previously. Along the way, I did pass the shepard with his dogs and a herd of sheep.

As the evening hours approached, I decided to go back to the Camas Creek meadow to make some evening photographs.

Whenever I paused to make a photograph, it became very clear that the area had a very healthy mosquito population. Instead of camping near the meadow, I decided to drive back to an area distant from the wetlands. In the morning, I returned to the meadow area to make some sunrise images.

When I finished with the photos, I decided to do a little more exploring before my return to Boise. I chose to drive south on Bennett Mountain Road. I passed though a beautiful forested area. Along the way, I noticed a number of blue bird houses mounted on fence posts. When the road started to drop back down into the sagebrush steppe, I decided to turn back and return to a road side pull-off I had noticed earlier to eat my breakfast. Within a mile, I saw an interesting sign I had missed during my first pass.

As soon as I stopped at the pull-off where I had planned to eat breakfast, I received a visit from one of the local residents.

Unless otherwise noted, all images on this page are Copyright © Patrick Stoll and may not be downloaded and/or used in any manner without the written permission of Patrick Stoll.



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