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Idaho is a stunning state that is often overlooked. The state is full of picturesque mountains, lush forests, and breathtaking valleys in the north. To south Idaho has the High Desert and the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (it turns out a spaceship is not needed to visit the moon). For many reasons, Idaho can be an adventurer's dream.

One of the many stunning state parks in the state is Thousand Springs State Park in central Idaho. It has plenty of natural and historical attractions, with the park being spread out into various units - each offering something unique and interesting. As the name suggests, the park is full of picturesque springs and canyons.

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The Six Units Of The Thousand Springs State Park

Thousand Springs State Park is composed of multiple units - namely Billingsley Creek, Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve, Malad Gorge, Niagara Springs, and Ritter Island. All of these six units are located within a short diving distance of each other, and each has something different to offer.

  • Billingsley Creek: A Former Range Of 286 Acres And A Historic Homesite
  • Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs: A Stunning Box Canyon With 250 Foot High Walls
  • Malad Gorge: A 250-Foot Deep Canyon Great For Hiking and Picnicking
  • Niagara Springs: A National Natural Landmark With Sheer Basalt Cliffs
  • Ritter Island: Has Two Large Springs

One of the places everyone should visit is the Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve. It is a box canyon of 350 acres of a stunning box canyon. It has the eleventh largest spring on the continent and is a great place to take Instagram pics. See the 20-foot waterfall and soak in the natural beauty of the canyon.

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What To Expect And Do In Thousand Springs State Park

The state park was borne in 2005 as four existing state parks in the Hagerman Valley were merged into one with an extra unit added.

The springs come from a massive underground aquifer coming to the surface. The aquifer flows beneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains.

Visitors enjoy gorgeous views with mountain streams and springs bubbling and gushing down volcanic cliff faces. Travelers see why this rugged region of Idaho is called the Magic Valley. The cracks and canyons of the rocks speak to the lava and volcanic history of the area, as well as the relentless forces of erosion. Visitors can even see rocks placed by ancient Native Americans to capture bison and other game.

One of the main trails to hike is the Oregon Trail at the Kelton Trail. Explore the magnificent Malad Gorge. See the historic bridge that once carried wagons along the Oregon Trail. Back in the settler period, between 1864 and 1883, this was a popular route, and it carried mail and passengers between Boise and the railhead located at Kelton in Utah. People can see grooves that were cut into the rock by the many wagons.

Come at the right time and attend the annual Thousand Springs Art Festival. The 2022 festival is to be held on September 24 & 25 along the pristine waters at Ritter Island. It is a premier fall arts festival attracting over 100 artists and 5,000 participants.

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Visiting Thousand Springs State Park & Festival

A new visitor center for the park has only just been completed in 2022 and is now open to the public. It explores the history and heritage of Thousand Springs State Park and the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.

  • Visitor Center Opening Hours: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Daily
  • Day-Use Areas Hours: 7.00 am to 10.00 pm
  • Entry Fee: $7.00 Per Car (For Every Idaho State Park)

The visitor center was a joint project between the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) and the National Park Service (NPS).

Unfortunately, no camping is offered in the park (and no RV hookups), although tent camping is permitted in Niagara Spring with advance approval. This is due to a change in 2023 as the new $6 million Billingsley Creek Campground is under construction. It is expected to open in early 2023 and will have 50 camping spots.

  • Pets: Permitted On A Leash
  • Horseback Riding: See The Indoor Horse Riding Area At Billingsley Creek Unit