Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2013 Western trip – Big Springs & Mesa Falls

After going into Yellowstone on Friday and being unable to find parking places, we decided to wait until after Labor Day and do other things in the meantime.  On this day we drove south of the campground and made our first stop at Big Springs and Johnny Sack’s cabin.

Big Springs is a combination of several springs putting out 120 million gallons of clean 52* water every day and it is the source of Henry’s Fork (North Fork of the Snake River) – the springs will nearly furnish the needs of Phoenix, AZ.  Because of its temperature and high flow rate, it never freezes and has pretty plants growing in it - looks like a Florida river.

The springs feed a nice pool that begins the river.

Downstream the river feeds Henry’s Lake about a mile from our campground.

In 1935, German emigrant Johnny Sack moved into the cabin he built at Big Springs and as a master craftsman, he also built everything from the furniture to the light fixtures.

Click on the link for an interesting read and photos of the cabin and the springs - here’s a couple of shots I lifted from the web.

Thanks to one of the springs location, he had a water wheel that pumped running water into the house (below and lower right in above shot).

Due to the river never freezing, Johnny had an air boat that he could use to go down river to civilization even in the dead of winter.  With the beautiful cabin and magnificent location, I’d move in there today. The cabin is now owned by the USFS and is managed in conjunction with Fremont County Parks and Recreation and the Island Park Historical Society and during much of the summer a knowledgeable local representative is on site to answer questions.

From there we went a little further south and down river to have a look at the two Mesa Falls that are also on Henry’s Fork.  The first shot is above the 110’ upper falls and the second is beside it.

Bev and the gorge below the upper falls.

This is the 85’ high lower falls.

After this trip I now know where most of the 4-wheelers are sold in the US – they are more than abundant here and trails seem to be everywhere.  There must be a half dozen vehicles at our campground and many driven by older folks – this one belongs to our camping neighbor.

I assume the same folks have snowmobiles for the winter.  On the way home, we spotted this heard of Pronghorn in a field beside the main road.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/2/2013 event date


  1. Johnny Sack was quite a carpenter. That cabin is amazing and so is the fact that the spring never freezes. Beautiful country.

  2. Wow that cabin and it's surroundings are beautiful!

  3. When I was first reading your post, I saw Phoenix, AZ and didn't carefully read it.. I thought you were in my hood!!! lol :)

    Gorgeous pictures.. the falls are just amazing!!

  4. Before we decided to head for Hawthorne NV, these falls were on our list to see. I love waterfalls. Something about that rushing water just gives me a thrill. Hope you had better luck in the park after the long week-end.

  5. Once again some beautiful landscape....The cabin would be a wonderful getaway in the summer ( i know you would live there ;-)) The water falls stunning. Love it.


  6. Larry, Nice alternative side trip with some very nice photos! Another place for Laurie and I to check out on a future trip... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  7. We visited Mesa Falls last summer, but we didn't make it to Big Springs. Hopefully we can get there in the future. The cabin is really something.

  8. Absolutely beautiful! Love seeing the wild animals and waterfalls - keep 'em coming!

  9. We are looking forward to Big Springs. Thanks for the information

  10. Hi There, Needless to say (as you probably know), we did visit both of the Mesa Falls when we stayed at West Yellowstone. We did not go to Big Springs.. That looks like a place we need to put on our long list... ha

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Airboat during the winter, genius! Very cool story, you find some neat places on your travels.

  12. 4 wheelers? I'm in the jeeping capital of the world in Ouray County, Colorado. All the old mining roads are now used for 4x4 recreation. I'm sure WY and Montana offer similar back country opportunities.
    Did the crowds ease up after Labor Day? We thought Sept. might be a could time to visit Yellowstone.

  13. It was less crowded but I suspect many had the same idea as me. If the weather holds, I think this week and next might be the best.

  14. Really great photos Larry! I haven't been to Henry's Lake since I was 14 years old... it's so beautiful there.

  15. You'll have to arm wrestle me to see who gets to move into that cabin! Love that place. And sadly yes, the Wet is full of those all terrain vehicles that damage our beautiful land. Many more people complain about them than buy them.

  16. i love to stay in the cabin, looks so warm and cozy.

  17. Our favorite vacation is in a cabin in no mans land! LOL these photos make me so jealous I so envy the time you have to enjoy.. wow these make me want to retire! just beautiful thanks for sharing and so glad your having the time of your life you deserve it my friend!


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