Celebrate a Year of Chris and Jordan by Watching Their Idaho Travel Show

Today marks the anniversary of Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake joining PetaPixel! Celebrate with us by watching their first (and so far, only) travel show as they drive, eat, and photograph their way across Idaho.

Being lucky enough to live in Idaho, I am spoiled by the fact that I have majestic mountains, pristine rivers, and exceptional outdoor recreation right outside my front door. Over the years, I have convinced countless friends to visit Idaho and see why it is one of the most beautiful and exciting places in the United States.

After learning that my PetaPixel co-workers, Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake had never been to Idaho, I reached out and made them an offer that they couldn’t refuse. A road trip from north to south, photographing epic landscapes, eating delicious foods, attending a world-famous sheep festival, and maybe even a bit of fly fishing. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Chris and Jordan’s first video on the PetaPixel YouTube channel, let’s re-visit their most well-liked video to date.

Two men and a golden retriever sitting on a dock by a lake with distant mountains under cloudy skies. one man holds a stick, and the dog looks attentively at the camera.
Sandpoint, Idaho. Photo by Michael Bonocore

The adventure began shortly after Chris and Jordan crossed the border in Eastport, Idaho from their home in Calgary. While Chris is well known for his camera and lens reviews on the PetaPixel YouTube channel, he was looking to reignite his passion for landscape and portrait photography, and I assured him that there was no better place to do so than in Idaho.

A scenic landscape showcasing rolling hills dotted with trees, bathed in the golden light of sunset, with expansive forested mountains under a clear sky in the background.
White Bird, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

Chris immediately understood this when we entered Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. The lush landscapes were beginning to show signs of autumn as the leaves’ colors turned from green into a vibrant shade of red and yellow.

A vibrant landscape featuring a lush green field in the foreground with a solitary tree, leading to a densely forested hill with sporadic patches of yellow foliage under a cloudy sky.
Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls
Vibrant autumn scene with tall golden yellow trees lining a calm river reflecting sunlight, with stones visible in the shallow water. clear blue sky peeks through the foliage.
Photo by Chris Niccolls

Needing to stretch their legs after the long drive, Chris and Jordan opted to hike to Myrtle Falls, an impressive 100-foot waterfall tucked into a rocky gorge among the trees. Chris couldn’t help but stop constantly to take photo after photo of the stunning scenery, making the short .9 mile hike last well over an hour.

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

After Chris had his fill of capturing slow shutter speed photos of the creeks and waterfalls in Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, they returned to their home on the pristine shores of Lake Pend Oreille. The lake, Idaho’s deepest and biggest, provided the perfect backdrop for a relaxing afternoon spent on kayaks, while the dock was the ideal location for photographing the dark, star-filled sky after the sun went down.

Two people sitting back-to-back on a wooden dock at night, gazing at a starry sky with streaks of clouds over a tranquil lake and distant mountains.
Sandpoint, Idaho. Photo by Michael Bonocore

The next morning, after breakfast in the small town of Sandpoint, Chris and Jordan departed for a leisurely drive on the International Selkirk Loop. The 280-mile route follows the Selkirk Mountains through Idaho, Washington and British Columbia. The Idaho segment yields stunning views of the crystal clear waters of the Kootenai and Pend Oreille Rivers as well as the shore of Lake Pend Oreille.

A serene view of a mountain lake at sunset, with sunlight piercing through clouds and reflecting on the water amidst dense forests on rolling hills.
Photo by Chris Niccolls

Wanting a birds eye view of the lake at sunset, we drove up the mountain towards Schweitzer, the largest ski resort in Idaho and Washington. The road was lined with colorful trees, leading to an S-curve in the road that yielded one of the best views in Idaho.

A winding road with vibrant yellow and green trees under a sunset sky.
Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls
A panoramic view of a lake surrounded by autumn-colored forests and mountains at sunset, with pink clouds strewn across the sky.
Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

After a long day of exploring the photogenic scenery of northern Idaho, we drove south to the town of Athol, where a fine dining experience like no other awaited us. Candle in the Woods, led by owner and chef David Adlard, has won numerous awards since its inception in 2019, and after our three-hour meal, it was easy to see why. Adlard only has one seating a night, as all reservations are sat together at a long, rectangular table. A unique feature that Adlard prides himself on is that there is no menu. Each night, he and his in-house team dream up recipes based on the ingredients that they have on hand, most of which is sourced from local farms in Idaho.

A distinguished older man with a beard, dressed in a black chef jacket, holding a bottle of wine and a wine glass, standing in front of a wooden door in a rustic dining setting.
Chef David Adlard, Candle in the Woods, Athol, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

As each of the 15 courses were brought out to the table, Chris was overwhelmed by the presentation of the plates, and he couldn’t help himself to photograph them all. With each course, Chef Adlard describes the dish, while also finding ways to include hilarious stories about his life. The dining experience was one-of-a-kind, and the food was some of the best Chris and Jordan had ever tasted.

A circular tray of bite-sized appetizers in small white dishes, shrouded in dramatic culinary smoke, creating an enticing and elegant presentation.
Candle in the Woods. Photo by Chris Niccolls
A gourmet plate with two succulent steak medallions and asparagus, elegantly presented on a long dish against a background of wine bottles. the setting is warmly lit, creating an inviting dining ambiance.
Candle in the Woods. Photo by Chris Niccolls
A person pours a thick, golden syrup from a small, textured ceramic jug over a scoop of vanilla ice cream served on a bed of crumbled dessert, with wine bottles blurred in the background.
Candle in the Woods. Photo by Chris Niccolls

The following morning, Chris and Jordan traded in their clean dinner attire for boots and jeans as they rented Polaris RZRs to explore the stunning mountains and lakes around McCall. With hundreds of miles to explore, the duo set off in search of remote lakes and grand views, but were quickly welcomed to Idaho by hundreds of sheep who overran the trail. The run-in was an introduction to the importance of sheep herding in Idaho, which would be further explored at the end of their road trip.

A panoramic view of a serene lake surrounded by lush forests with autumn-colored foliage under a clear blue sky, with mountains in the background.
Brundage Mountain, Idaho. Photo by Michael Bonocore

After a full day exploring the unspoiled wilderness around Brundage Mountain, the pair had barely scratched the surface of the countless ATV trails that McCall had to offer. However, the pair was excited as they met with Mary Jane Oatman and JR Spencer from the Nez Perce tribe to hear about the history and the culture of their people in the resource rich lands that Idaho provides.

Chris and Jordan met Spencer at the Heart of the Monster, a culturally significant location near the town of Kamiah. Spencer is a Nez Perce storyteller, and he was eager to tell Chris the story of the creation of the Nez Perce people. As the story goes:

A monster was eating all of the animals. Coyote fooled the monster into swallowing him. Using a set of stone knives that he had brought with him, Coyote cut apart the monster from the inside to release all of the animals that were trapped in the monster. Upon emerging from the remains of the monster, Coyote cut it up and threw the pieces all over the land, creating the Indian people who inhabit the land. Fox asked Coyote about the land around the monster, it had no people, what was he to do? As Coyote washed the blood of the monster off his hands, the drops became the Nez Perce.

An indigenous person stands outdoors in traditional regalia including a beaded headband, braided hair, a fringed vest, and a brightly colored, beaded long skirt, with the backdrop of a grassy field and small hill under a cloudy sky.
JR Spencer at Heart of the Monster, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls
A native american man in traditional attire, including a feathered headdress, stands proudly outdoors with a rocky hill in the background during sunset.
JR Spencer at Heart of the Monster, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

Inspired by the Nez Perce creation story, Chris and Jordan met Mary Jane Oatman on the shores of the Clearwater River to learn how salmon has been at the center of the Nez Perce culture, and her family, for generations. Oatman’s family own a store, From The Heart, which sells a collection of antiques, vintage clothing, glassware, baked goods, and of course, their famous smoked salmon. The vintage look of the store and its merchandise was the perfect backdrop for Chris to add a photograph of Mary Jane to his ever expanding Idaho portrait collection.

A woman with warm eyes, wrapped in a hand-signed fur-lined cloak, stands confidently in a colorful room decorated with eclectic items, including a mounted goat head.
Mary Jane Oatman, Kamiah, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls
A woman wearing a colorful headscarf and a traditional fur-trimmed outfit stands in front of a bookshelf, smiling at the camera.
Mary Jane Oatman, Kamiah, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

Having covered nearly 600 miles since the pair crossed the Canadian border, Chris and Jordan ended their Idaho adventure in the well-known town of Ketchum, more famously known as Sun Valley. Before the area was known for its world-class skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and golf, Ketchum was home to one of the most famed authors of all time, Ernest Hemingway. Being that Hemingway is a favorite of both Chris and Jordan, they could not pass up a chance to visit his final resting place, which, in true Hemingway fashion, sparked a debate about his best novel.

Two men standing by a grave in a cemetery, surrounded by trees. one man is observing the grave while the other appears reflective. grave markers can be seen in the background.
Ketchum, Idaho. Photo by Michael Bonocore

Paying a visit to Hemingway is not why Chris and Jordan have come to Ketchum, however. Each October, 1,500 sheep casually walk down Main Street to the delight of thousands of spectators. The annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival was founded by John and Diane Peavey more than two decades ago as a way to educate Ketchum’s newer residents about the importance of sheep herding in Idaho. The festival immediately became a hit, and today vendors come from all over Idaho to show off their sheep specific wares.

Black and white portrait of a cheerful elderly man with a long white beard, wearing a beret and striped apron, smiling broadly at a market.
Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Ketchum, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

The sheep parade down Main Street isn’t the only place spectators can get a view of sheep during the festival. As Chris states, “You can’t have good sheep without good sheepdogs,” and festival goers can get a view of these remarkable working animals in action at the Sheepdog Trials, a three-day competition that has the dogs perform a number of complicated herding maneuvers.

Two men in plaid shirts stand in a field with a flock of sheep, pointing and discussing, with tree-lined mountains in the background.
Sheepdog Trials, Hailey, Idaho.

The five-day festival comes to a thrilling conclusion on Sunday, as spectators line Ketchum’s Main Street at mid-day, awaiting the flood of sheep as they make their way through town towards their winter foraging grounds. The parade lived up to the hype, as the hustle and bustle of Ketchum came to a standstill as the crowd fell silent in order to not spook the sheep.

Horseback riders dressed in western attire carrying american flags at a parade in a town, with spectators watching from the sides under a clear blue sky.
Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Ketchum, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls
A woman in a black and white striped jacket stands amidst a large flock of sheep, commanding attention as a crowd of onlookers watch from behind.
Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Ketchum, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls
Close-up of a flock of sheep with one sheep looking directly at the camera, its mouth open as if bleating, surrounded by other sheep in soft focus.
Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Ketchum, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

And just like that, the Trailing of the Sheep festival comes to an end, as does our incredible road trip through Idaho. Chris came to Idaho in search of rekindling his love for photography, however, he found so much more during his road trip through Idaho.

“Jordan and I had a great trip. Idaho turned out to be an amazing place to visit and I was just struck by how beautiful the state is and how many different things there are to photograph.

I was really looking to rekindle my love for photography and Idaho did not disappoint. The gorgeous landscapes I expected, but we also got to meet such interesting people and I love the portraits that I got of them. I’ll miss all the people who welcomed us in and shared what Idaho means to them.

A man fly fishing in a river, standing on rocks with a backdrop of pine trees and mist, under soft sunlight.
Photo by Jaron Schneider

There was also food photography and astrophotography and I even got to document a sheep festival and the people that it all brings together.

A night sky filled with shimmering stars and the milky way, viewed from beneath a modern bridge extending diagonally across the frame, surrounded by dark silhouettes of trees.
White Bird, Idaho. Photo by Chris Niccolls

I even got to fish a little bit, though not as much as I would have liked! All the more reason to return and explore what else the state of Idaho has to offer. There are so many more photographs waiting to be captured, so many more places I want to visit, and I can’t think of a better or more beautiful place to bring a camera, go for a drive, and just let yourself wander and lose yourself in the beauty around you.”