A Perfect Day in Cottonwood, Idaho
By Dog Bark Park Inn B&B Innkeeper Frances Conklin
Here, the perfect day begins in the afternoon. Like most rural western towns, getting to Cottonwood in north central Idaho takes a bit of planning due to distance from gateway cities. You’ll feel the miles traveled melt away at first glimpse of your night’s lodging. “It’s a dog!” the children will squeal. “Look, the dog’s ears just moved. Yes, this certainly will be fun,” smile the adults.
The place is Dog Bark Park Inn B&B, home to the two World’s Biggest Beagles. The largest beagle is the inn. Spending a night in this doghouse is indeed a GOOD thing!
After checking in & visiting with owners & chainsaw artists Dennis & Frances, plan to relax in the dog before venturing out for dinner. A short walk towards town brings you to a family restaurant where bite-size steak is a regional specialty. Enjoy homemade soup of the day, healthful salads, chicken or beef dinners. End your meal with fresh baked pie or yogurt ice cream. Instead, if absolutely authentic Idaho steak grilled to perfection sounds appealing, motor fifteen miles to the popular Ernie’s Steak House in Grangeville where people come from miles around for relaxed but upscale western dining.
After dinner, venture down memory lane by taking in a drive-in movie at Grangeville’s Sunset Autovue. (May-Sept, Fri-Sun only). PG & PG-13 double features are standard offerings. Only a half-dozen or so outdoor movie theatres remain in Idaho and this one has been owned by the same family for several generations. Or, you can enjoy an indoor movie in Grangeville at the downtown Blue Fox Theatre, a historical landmark.
Or, return to the Beagle inn for an evening snuggled inside enjoying the books, games & puzzles from the dog’s library. Before turning in for the night, be sure to step out on the deck to place your wish upon a star from the twinkling sky garden.
Next morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the dog; homemade yeast pastries & our family recipe for Prairie’s Best Fruited Granola are specialties. Then take a 3-mile drive through town into the country to visit the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude. The view of the expansive grain fields stretching for miles across the prairie is a must see. Founded by the Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude over 75 years ago, the Historical Museum chronicles the settlement of the area and portrays the lives of three fascinating individuals; a Chinese ranch woman, a modern-day mountain man & a glamorous world-renowned musical entertainer. Self-guided walking tours of the Monastery grounds & chapel are also options.
Return to town for a take-out meal from one of Cottonwood’s restaurants or grocery stores and head out for a picnic on the Salmon River at the secluded Pine Bar Recreation Area. The 40-minute scenic drive begins on the Camas prairie at 3600’ elevation and winds its way down into a spectacular narrow canyon that opens at its terminus with the majestic Salmon River at 1200’ elevation. Views are reminiscent of cowboy movies with long steep grassy ranges, looming rock formations, soaring birds and big deep water – a land of stark beauty at every glance. Pine Bar is a good area for fishing (in-season w/proper licenses), wading at the sandy beach, hiking, wildlife viewing, cloud watching and daydreaming.