Seed Potato Capital of the World

ToadDate 0273.06.28.17-ID

This is our last day at the Jolley Camper Campground in Ashton, ID; tomorrow we move to Irwin, ID in preparation for joining Dave and Anita Eichhorn at the Driggs Balloon Rally.

Ashton is the World’s Largest Seed Potato Producer. As you might expect there are potato fields everywhere. Ashton has very cold snowy winters which kills bacteria and fungus in the soil. Fungus and molds are the death of potato crops. The Ashton seed potatoes are prized because the cold winter ensures that the seed potatoes are free of fungus, mold, and other bacteria.

In the early 1900s the railroad came to Ashton and few years later was extended to West Yellowstone. In the winter, the train tracks were plowed only as far as Ashton – Ashton was the end of the line during the winters. The long snowy winters would make West Yellowstone, and communities between it and Ashton isolated. But where there is a need, someone will find a solution and maybe make a few bucks along the way. Enterprising individuals in Ashton would take the winter cargo, supplies, passengers, and mail up to West Yellowstone via dog sleds on the now snow-covered railroad right-of-way.

Today the American Dog Derby, a dog sled race from Ashton to West Yellowstone, is held in February to recognize this bit of history. It is the oldest All-American dog sled race. In addition to the dog sled race, there is a celebrity race, a snowshoe race, and weight pull competition to see how much a dog can pull.

Nearby are the Saint Anthony Sand Dunes. The dunes are used for recreation with people drudging up the dunes and sliding down on cardboard or driving ATVs. You can rent equipment from area suppliers or just bring your own cardboard.

From Ashton, you can travel a loop that takes you along the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and by the Mesa Falls. We took the trail up to see the falls. There were a number of people fly fishing in the river. It was a great time.

Ashton is small: one grocery store, several hotels and campgrounds, a few restaurants, a couple of gas stations, huge storage silos along the railroad tracks, and a view of the Grand Teton Mountain Range that takes your breath away.

We have enjoyed our stay in Ashton. It’s about 60 miles from the West Yellowstone entrance to the national park and 100 miles from Jackson, WY which is the southern entrance to Grand Teton national park.

We utilized Ashton as a base to make several day trips to both parks because it is close enough to be practical and far enough away to have camping vacancies at reasonable rates. It’s a beautiful quiet town within 20 miles of a Super Walmart, and all the shopping, entertainment and dining opportunities associated with a larger city.


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