What to do in Thousand Springs State Park
Malad Gorge [Unit 1]
Malad Gorge is a deep canyon that has been carved out by the Malad River. There’s a bridge that goes over the canyon that you can walk over and peer into. It’s pretty cool to stop and check out and is located on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway if you’re coming or going from Boise to Twin Falls.
Kelton Trail [Unit 2]
I haven’t been here yet, but from this trail you can see a portion of the Oregon Trail. You can also see larger portions of the Oregon Trail if you visit the Hagerman Fossil Beds, another interesting sight to see near this area.
Billingsley Creek [Unit 3]
This is a popular creek to stop if you’re into fishing! We stopped and took a look at the creek, but it’s probably a drive-by if you’re not going to stop and fish (in my opinion).
Ritter Island & Thousand Springs Nature Preserve [Unit 4]
Ritter Island is awesome! It’s actually a gated portion of the Thousand Springs State Park accessed by driving down a steep grade called the Thousand Springs Grade. I don’t recommend driving down the grade if you’re in a motorhome or something that can’t take steep climbs. Ritter Island is an actual island that can be accessed by a little bridge.
You can visit the island to check out the historic dairy farm and learn about the history of the island or visit the annual art festival. Many people also park near the Idaho Power plant and picnic or float or kayak around the island. I explain more about how to paddle around Ritter island here.
Kayak, Canoe, or SUP the Snake River (to Blue Heart Springs or around Ritter Island)
When Jack and I came, we stayed at 1000 Springs Resort, kayaked to Blue Heart Springs, and then came back and kayaked around Ritter Island. It was a really fun day! 1000 Springs Resort is also right across the Snake River from Ritter Island if you’d rather just paddle over to it from your camp spot. If you do kayak or canoe, read this post to see how we did it.
Hike to Box Canyon Springs [Unit 5]
I used to hike Box Canyon quite a bit as a kid with my family. It’s a wonderful hike starting at the top of the canyon and going down into spring-fed pools. There are cables to help you out during the steeper climb, but it’s pretty doable for most fitness levels! The hike is about a 4.3 miles long loop and you’ll hike through a few different types of scenery to the oasis pools at the end. The water is cold, so just be warned, but it’s refreshing if you’re hiking on a hot day.
You’ll also need to pay the $5 State Park fee to park in the parking lot or you can park outside of the gate to avoid the fee. The hike is technically a loop, but many people, including me, like to go to the pool and then hike back up the same way. You can find more details on the hike here on AllTrails.
Niagara/Crystal Springs [Unit 6]
Niagara/Crystal Springs is actually fairly easy to find because you can see it from the road. It’s pretty awesome because there are so many springs coming out of the rock and the water is a bright blue. If you want to get out of the car and check out the springs, there’s a viewpoint. You can also visit Crystal Lake which is a great fishing area near Niagara Springs.
Visit Some Hot Springs
This is a great area for hot springs! All of them have been commercialized, so you won’t find any (that I know of) out in nature, but the three most popular in the area are Miracle Hot Springs, Banbury Hot Springs, and 1000 Springs resort (formerly named Sligers). Of the three hot springs, I recommend visiting Miracle Hot Springs because it’s been the most recently updated, has private pools, and massages!
Hagerman Fossil Beds Visitor Center & the Hagerman Horse
Hagerman fossil beds are actually a National Monument and not located within Thousand Springs, but happen to be nearby. Here, you can either go to the visitor center or go straight to the actual fossil beds. If you want to see the Hagerman Horse, Idaho’s State fossil, you can check it out at the visitor center. If you stop here, the park rangers know this area well and can give you more details on what to see and do if you need more ideas.
Niagara Springs or Hagerman Fish Hatcheries
Niagara Springs Fish Hatchery is known for its steelhead farming and can be visited by the public. They have an observation room so you can get a look at how the hatchery works. The Hagerman Fish Hatchery is also in the area and you can go and get tours of the facility. Visitors can also walk the hatchery ground and check out a pond that has rainbow trout, sturgeon, tiger muskies, and more.
Check out Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock is a bit out of the way, but if you want to check out a rock balancing on itself, this is a fun one! Here’s what it looks like so you can decide for yourself if you want to stop!