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Relaxing Recreation in Twin Falls and Southern Idaho

Take in the region's many low impact, high enjoyment outdoor activities

By Laura Hill on August 18, 2014

Walkers in the morning on the Canyon Rim Trail in Twin Falls, Idaho
Twin Falls / Michael Conti

Parachuting off the Perrine Bridge is a must-do thrill for many here. But if fear of heights, a bad back or just plain cowardice rule out BASE jumping and other extreme sports, Southern Idaho still has plenty of outdoor adventures in store.

With a varied and exciting landscape that includes mountains, desert, forest, lakes and rivers, the region has become a paradise for those who relish lower-impact ways to stay healthy and appreciate what nature has to offer. The easiest? Just take a long look at what surrounds you at the area’s parks and preserves – for example the wildflowers at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve or the spectacular lily bloom at Centennial Marsh in Fairfield each May.

For the Birds

Bird watching is particularly appealing, since Southern Idaho boasts 300 species of birds, including Great Blue Herons, eagles, waterfowl, song birds and more. 

“Bird watching is the most popular, nonconsumptive form of outdoor recreation in the country, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” says Wallace Keck, expert “birder” and photographer, and superintendent of City of Rocks National Reserve and park manager of Castle Rocks State Park. “It’s not using resources, like hunting and fishing; it’s low impact on nature, and you can do it anywhere.”

People who come to hike or climb at the park find that bird watching enhances their experience and appreciation of varied habitats, where, Keck says, you can easily spot 100 different species in a day. Birders also find plenty of feathered creatures at Lake Walcott State Park, Niagara Springs, Hagerman and the Billingsley Creek Wildlife Management Areas.

Cross-country skiing is a great low-impact way to get a bit of fresh-air cardio. In the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the South Hills Cross Country Ski Trails offer skiers and snowshoers 20 miles of maintained trails near Magic Mountain. And at Pomerelle Mountain Resort, Nordic skiers can tackle nongroomed, unpatrolled U.S. Forest Service trails free of charge.

Wet – But Not Wild

Want to get wet? With four major rivers and 1,000 lakes, this is the perfect area for canoeing, kayaking and the increasingly popular paddleboarding.

“We’ve got a calm stretch of the Snake River right in Twin Falls, so it’s great for beginners and recreational kayakers,” says Tim Pryor, whose Pryor Paddle Rental is right on the river in Centennial Park. “As people want to get outdoors and do more stuff, this is one of the least expensive and easiest outdoor things you can do in Twin Falls.”

A popular excursion: kayaking or canoeing up the river, under the Perrine Bridge (where you can watch those daredevil BASE jumpers as you peacefully glide along below) to Pillar Falls.

Fishing is a major outdoor magnet for residents and anglers from around the world, who come for Idaho cutthroat trout in the Snake and its many tributaries, bass fishing at Dierkes Lake, and trout fishing at Silver Creek. Crappie, perch and bluegill thrive here, and in winter, ice fishing on local lakes is popular.

On dry ground, walking and hiking trails are abundant around the area. The Snake River Canyon Walking Trails offer 10 miles of beautiful canyon-rim paths designed for walking, hiking and biking. And nearby, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area has many scenic trails.

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