To appreciate the treasures of Southern Idaho, you have to look beyond (or beneath) the sagebrush and lava rock that stretches across the horizon. The secrets of this desert landscape lie in its caves and in the crystal blue waters that spring from the ground. Here are a few of the many hidden wonders you’ll discover when you visit.
Mammoth Cave – Shoshone, ID
Stone faces and peacocks greet travelers at this quirky cave and Bird Museum. Hand held propane lanterns light your way through a self-guided tour of the world’s largest volcanic cave open to the public. Mammoth Cave stays a cool 41 degrees year-round, housing a silver-colored microorganism on the walls. Adjacent to the cave is a museum more curious than any in Idaho. The owners of the Shoshone Bird Museum have collected natural oddities from around the world including thousands of stuffed birds and other fossilized creatures. It’s a little like something out of the twilight zone.
Blue Heart Springs – Hagerman, ID
Flying over Hagerman some might notice a shimmering blue sapphire dangling from the proud waters of the Snake River. Blue Heart Springs is a hidden cove filled with bubbling Caribbean blue water. The crystal-clear water is starkly contrasted by black basalt canyon walls and desert surroundings. Kayakers lucky enough to discover the heart-shaped oasis are met with a gem thousands of years in the making.
Box Canyon – Wendell, ID
A quick scan of the unadulterated desert plain outside of Wendell leads the unknowing mind to believe this area is a dry field. However, a little way down the trail, the Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve hides a turquoise oasis. Box Canyon is home to America’s 11th largest spring, with 118,000 gallons of water flowing per minute into a pristine blue pool and down a cascading fall into two more pools below. Adventurers can take a dip to cool off from the hot desert sun, hike the six-mile loop around the spring, or admire the sound of water crashing over the falls.
Scott’s Pond Access – Jerome, ID
Lost down a few country roads, Scott’s Pond’s entrance hovers on the edge of the Snake River Canyon. A short canyon trail (a little under a mile), featuring several spring-fed cascades and waterfalls leads adventurers to Scott’s Pond Access. Relatively unknown, the small pond and canyon acreage is reminiscent of native canyon habitat. Deer, waterfowl, fish and other wildlife call the 200-acre area home. Locals enjoy pristine riverside views and kayaking access to 12 miles of little-used Snake River Canyon. It is also a great place to put in for accessing one of the best sturgeon fishing spots in Southern Idaho.
Learn more about these and other Southern Idaho treasures at visitsouthidaho.com/southern-idahos-hidden-gems/.