One of the most dazzling natural displays of wildflowers in the Northwest is the spring bloom of camas lilies at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, near Fairfield in Southern Idaho. The roots of camas lilies were an important food source for many Indigenous peoples of the Northwest. This particular prairie was the principal camas root gathering area and summer hunting grounds for the Bannock, Shoshoni and Northern Paiute tribes. The bulbs were harvested when the flower was in bloom, an important way to distinguish the bulbs from death camas bulbs, which had a different flower and were toxic. The camas bulbs were cooked, pounded into a mash and formed into cakes.
Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh is a 3,100-acre wildlife management area, flanked by the Sawtooth Range, and is habitat for thousands of birds. The marsh transforms into a sea of blue when the lilies burst into bloom toward the end of spring, a spectacle that draws travelers from all over.
Fairfield and Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh are located about 1.5 hours from Boise, making it perfect for a late-spring day trip while in Boise. Learn more about visiting Camas Prairie at idfg.idaho.gov/wma/camas-prairie-centennial-marsh. Plan your travels to Southern Idaho at visitsouthidaho.com.