Snake River Springs

Slicing deep through the basalt plains of southest Idaho the Snake River rushes west, gaining volume as it is joined by the Malad and Bruneau Rivers. Known for it’s majesty and beauty in many other parts of Idaho (and beyond), here the watercourse here takes on new characteristics, fed by numerous springs that drain over 10,000 square miles of the aquifer that underlies the southern and central parts of the state. These springs often tumble dramatically from cracks in the volcanic rock creating deep turquoise-colored pools in the plentiful box canyons of the gorge. They are stunning, and a significant contrast to the arid plains atop the tablelands above.

We spent multiple days walking the cracked rims of these gorges, descending to the water whenever possible to view the co-existence of blue-green pools and columnar basalt. Many of these springs are in state parks and are made accessible by short maintained trails, but there were multiple places where we spent time just walking along the rock. More than once we wished we were more experienced kayakers as we yearned to see more of this spectacular sections of river, but there was plenty to enjoy even without being able to travel by water.

We began with a half day excursion along the Malad River, a few miles north of its confluence with the Snake, crossing the 250-foot high bridge where the river tumbles over small falls and into the Devil’s Washbowl. From here we walked along the river, snapping photos in awe as Abby stayed on high alert for prairie dogs; a mile of so downstream from the bridge we stood facing ribbons of clear water pouring from the opposite edge of the gorge. We continued on long after this however, exploring the tentacles of basalt and peeking into springs and pools below.

In the following days we drove to multiple other state parks, hiking around overlooks and walking along the green banks below the high canyon walls. Up close, the waters in these pools were magnificently clear and impossibly vibrant and we found ourselves in near constant awe of such lush oases amid the dry plains. It was fantastic to say the least.