You may have seen photos of crystal clear, tropical-looking, Caribbean blue waters on social media and wondered a) how the heck is that in Idaho or b) I must go, where is it? Well, look no further! Blue Heart Springs is an oasis in southern Idaho, about 45 minutes drive from Twin Falls, Idaho (my hometown), and I’m going to fill you in on everything you need to know about getting there!
Before we dive in, let’s be friends on Instagram!
How to Get to Blue Heart Springs Idaho
Where is Blue Heart Springs?
The springs are located on the Snake River near Wendell and Twin Falls, Idaho, in the Thousand Springs Reserve area. They are just past Box Canyon Springs and somewhat close to Ritter Island. The only way to get to the springs is by waterway, and most people opt for kayaks, canoes, SUP, or boat.
Psst…Want another fun kayaking adventure in Idaho? Try kayaking to Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho!
How to get to Blue Heart Springs?
There are many ways to get to Blue Heart Springs; however, all are by waterway and boat. The most popular method is to take a day trip from Twin Falls, Idaho, put your kayaks in at Banbury Hot Springs, and paddle to Blue Heart Springs. However, there are other ways to do it and other places to put in as well. You can also stay the night as we did. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make this a day trip from Boise!
Here are the three most popular options for getting there:
Option 1: Bring 2 Cars
If you can, bring two cars! We didn’t have this option, but if you do have this option it’s a good one. Park one of the cars at 1000 Springs Resort and leave the other at Banbury Hot Springs. They are about 5 miles apart from each other and pretty easy to find with signage or on Google Maps. You’ll want to enter the water at the Banbury Hot Springs docks. If you need to rent kayaks or SUPs, you can do that at Banbury and I’ll give you more information on how to do that below.
Kayaking from Banbury to Blue Heart Springs is about a 1.5-mile paddle downstream. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which way is downstream and upstream because of how the water moves, but you will put your kayak in and go left from Banbury. It takes most people 40 mins -1 hour depending on the weather and then about 1 hour on the way home if there’s a bit of current. If you paddle towards the right side of the river, you’ll notice a slope on the cliff with a lot of fallen black rocks. T/here’s a bit of a bend in the river, and that’s where you’ll want to turn in. You’ll most likely see other people heading into or out of the springs, so I wouldn’t worry too much about finding it.
Once you paddle into the springs, you’ll notice the water is a bit murky until you get closer to the rock wall, where you’ll see the crystal clear blue water! We docked our kayaks against the rock, had lunch, and took a plunge. Warning: It’s freezing!
Once you’re done at the springs, you can continue on to 1000 Springs Resort to get your car. You can also stop at Ritter Island—located across from 1000 Springs—just be warned the current is a lot stronger going to the Island than it is going to and from Blue Heart from Banbury Hot Springs.
Option 2: There and Back from Banbury Hot Springs
This is an excellent option if you only have one car and want to camp at Banbury Hot Springs. You’ll make the same trip as suggested above and will just go straight from Banbury to Blue Heart and then paddle upstream from Blue Heart back to Banbury. The paddle will be much shorter, but it’s a great half-day activity.
Option 3: 1000 Springs Takeoff
Another option is to put in your kayaks or SUP in at 1000 Springs Resort. They don’t have rentals, but each camp spot has a dock, so if you bring your own or rent elsewhere, you can easily take off from here.
If you aren’t camping at 1000 Springs, you can still park and take off from the docks. We stayed the night at 1000 Springs in our Suboverland that we picked up in Twin Falls and took off from there to Blue Heart. It took us about 2 hours to get to Blue Heart Springs from 1000 Springs going upstream (make a right out of 1000 Springs Resort) and about 1 hour 15 minutes downstream.
Option 4: The newest option (August 2022)
Now there is a new company offering rentals to Blue Heart Springs called Blue Heart Kayaking! They are located less than a mile upriver from Blue Heart Springs. This is a rental company and launch site located on private property owned by the company. They have easy access to the river and lots of parking and can accommodate groups of up to 30 people. This is an excellent option if you just want to paddle to Blue Heart and back and have your car there waiting for you!
Continuing on to Ritter Island
1000 Springs Resort is right across the Snake River from Ritter Island. Ritter Island is another popular place to visit because of the crystal clear water (it’s amazing)! Just beware that the currents are a lot stronger, but doable if you paddle hard. You can also get off and go tour Ritter Island if you feel up to it. They have an Art Festival every year, but the draw is touring the old dairy farm.
It’s okay if you don’t go to the actual island though, you can just kayak around it. If you’re looking at the island from 1000 Springs Resort, I recommend entering it with your kayak from the right side. The current will be strong, but I recommend paddling as hard as you can and heading to the large waterfall right there. It’s beautiful! Then, if you can keep going a little bit further the current will change and you’ll be able to go downstream the rest of the way once you pass the bridge. This part isn’t easy, so just know that going into it. You’ll be able to do it, but you’ll have to use your muscles!
Another option is to drive down the Thousand Springs Grade to the Ritter Island Park where you’ll pass Minnie Miller Springs and come to a lot where you can see views of the other waterfalls and have a picnic or tube around the island. Here you’ll also be able to easily access the Ritter Island park without needing to kayak.
Kayak and SUP Rentals
You can rent kayaks and SUP boards from Banbury Hot Springs, but it’s worth calling ahead just in case they have a large party rental. When I called, they said they had 30 kayaks and had a big group who had rented them all. Just make sure they have some when you arrive or plan on bringing your own. They are pretty affordable ($35 for 8 hours) and a great option if you don’t have your own. If you’re coming from Twin Falls, you can also rent kayaks there and bring them up.
The Difficulty of the Paddle
Paddling from Banbury to Blue Heart Springs is fairly easy. You may get some current on the way back since you’ll be going upstream, but many fitness levels can do this. You definitely don’t need to be in great paddling shape to do it.
If you want more of a challenge, continuing on to Ritter Island will take a bit longer, but will be about the same paddle difficulty. However, if you want a challenge I recommend going around Ritter Island.
The Best Time to Go to Blue Heart Springs
The Instagram photos you’ve probably seen of the springs probably don’t show you the hoards of people there! When I was there on a Saturday in July, it was extremely packed and we counted 75 people at one point. However, many people I know have gone earlier or later in the day on weekdays and say it’s much calmer. Just know, it’s getting more and more crowded especially during COVID times but is still a wonderful little gem to explore. Just make sure to pack out what you pack in and if you can take a kayak or SUP instead of a motorboat it’s much more enjoyable for everyone.
After a long paddle, it might be nice for a hot spring adventure as well. Of the three in the area, Banbury, Miracle, and 1000 Springs Resort, Miracle Hot Springs is the nicest option as it’s recently been remodeled!
What to Bring?
I definitely recommend bringing a life jacket, and whistle (in case Fish and Game stops you), sunscreen, snacks or lunch, hat or cover-up, camera and/or a waterproof phone case, and lots of water. You may even want to bring a snorkel and mask but just be warned that jumping in the water is shocking because it’s a constant 54 degrees.
No matter what, you’ll have a wonderful trip to Blue Heart! See our entire trip and what to do in Thousand Springs State Park here. Let me know if you have questions in the comments or let me know if you have other ways of doing it that I may not know about.
A Weekend in Thousand Springs State Park [Tips for Camping, Kayaking & Hiking]
9 Things to Do in Twin Falls Idaho
75+ Things to Do in Boise Idaho (A Local’s Guide)
The 7 Best Hikes Near Boise, Idaho
12 Best Things to Do in Coeur d’Alene Idaho + Where to Stay and What to Eat
12 Best Places to Visit in Idaho
Can you share where to find that waterfall you posted a photo of? It’s amazing and I don’t remember seeing it last time I went to blue springs…I don’t want to miss it this time! Thanks!!!!! Great post!
Yes, it’s on the way to Ritter Island when you turn in! Sort of across from the 1000 Springs Resort camp ground!
you think it would be ok to take a raft from Banbury to Blue Heat?
I have lived in Idaho my whole life and am finally making it to Blue Heart. Thank you for the detailed information!
So helpful thank you! Can’t wait to go in a couple weeks. Ashamed to say I’ve lived in eastern Idaho my whole life and at 30 something finally going to explore this gem!