South Central Idaho couldn't be more ideally located. The region surrounds the crossroads of U.S. Highway 93 and Interstate 84, on your way to and from Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, and Great Basin national parks; the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast; Nevada-style gaming; and the beauty of Sun Valley and the Central Idaho Rockies.
You won't want to hurry through. Take time to float the Snake River, visit a winery, play a round of golf, and tour our country roads. If all this puts you in the mood for a hearty meal, you'll be able to choose from sizzling steaks, seafood, family favorites, even exotic Asian, Basque, and Cajun fare. And when it's time to circle the wagons, you'll have your pick of everything from large, luxurious suites and friendly mom-and-pop motels to memorable bed-and-breakfasts and comfortable campgrounds.
Where else in the world can you spend a day surfing on sand, tracing the pioneers’ paths, and peering into a little-known canyon? Bruneau Dunes, Three Island Crossing, and Malad Gorge state parks are all within minutes of Interstate 84, yet they are usually uncrowded and always easily explored.
Whether you prefer skis, snowboards, or a good old sled, you'll want to pack them along for your trip to Bruneau Dunes State Park. The tallest, single-structured sand dunes in the United States rise as high as 470 feet, beckoning visitors to hike along the crest and slide down the inner slopes. The dunes stay put with the help of prevailing winds blowing from the southeast and the northwest roughly the same amount of time.
Bruneau Dunes’ grassy campground has one of the longest seasons in Southern Idaho, and several lakes offer a good supply of largemouth bass.
Oregon-bound pioneers crossing Idaho met their greatest obstacle at Three Island Crossing, the most-feared and dangerous river ford on the entire 2,000-mile trail. Here, emigrants were forced to decide whether to risk the crossing to reach an easier trail on the other side, or stay on the difficult route south of the Snake River. These heroics are reenacted every summer at the Three Island Crossing Festival.
Ride the Scenic Byway and discover a variety of natural and cultural attractions. Traveling Highway 30 is like a journey back in time. Along the way you'll discover the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, one of the world's premier paleontological sites. Several outfitters offer trips blending whitewater excitement with peaceful passages through the Snake River Canyon. Keep an eye out for plumes of water gushing from the black basalt canyon walls known as Thousand Springs.
In 1974, daredevil Evil Knievel mesmerized the world with his attempted rocket-powered motorcycle leap across the Snake River Canyon, near the town of Twin Falls. Knievel's launching ramp still stands to the east of Perrine bridge, as does the spot where he parachuted to the edge of the river on the canyon floor. Stroll across the 1,500 foot long Perrine Bridge for a good look at the Snake River and the new and beautiful Centennial Waterfront Park some 500 feet below. The park provides river access for the public and Guided tours are available also. To the west, you will see two of Idaho's most beautiful golf courses. Be sure to stop at the Buzz Langdon Visitors Center on the south canyon rim.
Also known as the Niagara of the West because its 212 foot height is 40 feet higher than Niagara Falls, Shoshone Falls stretches 1,000 feet across the Snake River. Created 15,000 years ago by the great Bonneville Flood, Shoshone Falls thunders in the springtime with the roar of its white cascade of water heard three miles away. If you desire fun and excitement, guided canoe and kayak tours are available to the base of the falls. Local information is available for guided adventures.
At Malad Gorge, you get a raptor's-eye view of the swirling Devil's Washbowl waterfall and a 250-foot-deep canyon Native Americans once used as a natural trap for game. The gorge actually runs right below the interstate, but most drivers have no idea it exists. Yet one view of the golden eagles and red-tailed hawks soaring on the canyon's thermals will make you glad you stopped. Take exit #147, Malad Gorge is approximately 1/4 mile west, then 1/4 mile north from the exit.
Shoshone Ice Caves are a natural sparkling wonder! A constant year-round temperature of just-below-freezing provides cool relief from soaring summer temperatures. Guided tours take visitors on a journey through this underground ice cathedral, three football fields long and filled with beautiful frozen formations.