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Discover the Stunning State Parks of Southern Idaho

Get outside to experience the wonder of the area.

By Livability on December 13, 2021

Sunset over Lake Walcott in the Southern Idaho Region

Lake Walcott: A Desert Oasis

Appearing like a mirage at the edge of Southern Idaho’s high desert, Lake Walcott State Park is actually a very real, action-packed outdoor oasis on the edge of Lake Walcott. 

With more than 80 miles of shoreline, the lake is perfect for boating, swimming, paddle sports or simply soaking up the sunshine. It’s also a favorite spot for anglers itching for bass, rainbow trout and yellow perch among the list of fish found in the waters. These bountiful waters also attract an array of wildlife. Visit during the pelican nesting season to see hundreds of these majestic birds.

Kayaking along Lake Walcott in the Southern Idaho region

Located just northeast of Rupert, Lake Walcott State Park also features some of the state’s oldest cottonwood trees. These old-growth trees create the landscape for an outstanding 21-hole disc golf course. Most of the trails are paved and provide excellent access for all abilities. Visitors will find cabins, RV hookups, tent sites, picnicking and wildlife-watching.

The fall is a spectacular time to visit with the changing leaves and crisp air, perfect for s’mores over a campfire. In the winter months, the park is great for cross-country skiing and ice-fishing. Find even more bird-watching opportunities at the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge.

Thousands Springs Festival in Southern Idaho

Thousand Springs State Park

The Magic Valley’s rugged beauty is on full display across the seven units that make up Thousand Springs State Park. Each of the units – Malad Gorge, Kelton Trail, Billingsley Creek, Ritter Island, Crystal Springs, Niagara Springs and Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve – all offer visitors unique experiences around water. See gushing waterfalls, crystal-clear creeks or sapphire-blue waters that emerge from the Earth’s crust. 

Ritter Island, Niagara Springs and Malad Gorge are the easiest to access. They each feature waterfalls and picnicking areas, but Ritter Island’s historic blue barn is a true gem. 

Box Canyon is a favorite for hikers and provides some of the most stunning views. The water is icy blue and beckons hikers in for a dip. Billingsley Creek is the most recently renovated park in the system and features a brand-new, co-located visitor center.

Hiking Castle Rocks State Park in Southern Idaho

Castle Rocks State Park

Evidence suggests visitors have been coming to Castle Rocks for nearly 9,000 years – and with good reason. The breathtaking landscape affords rock climbers a challenging experience and has hundreds of routes for climbing, as well as hiking, mountain biking, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. 

The park features historic trail crossings and remnants of Native American pictographs, as well as Idaho ranching history. For a unique overnight visit, try The Lodge at Castle Rock Ranch, a renovated ranch house dating back more than a century, or go glamping in a yurt.

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