Whether you're a thrill seeker or happy to be just a sightseer, outdoor recreational opportunities abound in Southern Idaho. Here are some great options for three different speeds.
For those seeking a laid back experience, bird watching is a favorite pastime in Southern Idaho. And few places provide a more diverse viewing experience than Lake Walcott State Park. Located on the edge of Idaho's high desert, the park draws in bird experts from all over the country thanks to the hundreds of species of birds that are present there.
Wildflower hikes are popular in one of Southern Idaho's most popular outdoor destinations, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, near the town of Arco. The after effects of volcanic activity are on full display in the preserve, where lava fields are home to hundreds of plant and animal species.
History and science lovers will find an intriguing opportunity in the fossil beds at the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. The beds represent the largest concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils in North America.
If you're looking to break a sweat, hiking opportunities are seemingly endless in Southern Idaho. In terms of scenery, there are few places as breathtaking as Shoshone Falls. Known as the Niagara Falls of the West, the 212-foot high waterfall can be viewed from several scenic overlooks in Shoshone Falls Park, which boasts plenty of hiking trails that lead to the rim of the falls.
For fun on two wheels, there are plenty of mountain biking trails and backcountry single tracks in Southern Idaho. The 770,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area is a favorite spot. Most trails within the area are open to mountain bike users.
Skateboarding is also popular, thanks to two skate parks in the area. Harmon Park in Twin Falls and Buhl Skate Park in Buhl make for safe and reliable venues for concrete lovers looking to tune up their skills.
Looking for a more intense outdoor experience? Whitewater rafting is a favorite activity, especially along the Snake River's Murtaugh section, just east of Twin Falls. Idaho Power operates the Milner Dam, and when there is sufficient mountain snowfall and irrigation needs are met, enough water is released for whitewater recreation from May to June. At its peak strength, the 1-mile section of the river from the dam to the power plant provides up to a Class V level rapid.
Climbing opportunities are also abundant. The City of Rocks National Reserve near Almo provides one of the world's most unique granite-based rock climbing experiences. "The rock here is covered with hand holds," says Brad Shilling, Climbing Ranger for the City of Rocks National Reserve. "That makes climbing possible for beginners but also exciting for intermediate and advanced climbers."
For true thrill seekers, there is no more exciting an opportunity in Southern Idaho than BASE jumping. Twin Falls' Perrine Bridge is the only man-made structure in the U.S. where jumpers armed with only their parachutes can get their kicks year-round without a permit. During any given weekend, the bridge swarms with daredevils drawn by a breathtaking, 486-foot leap of faith that proves Southern Idaho can accommodate the wildest of thrill seekers.
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