The heart of spring is a magical time in Southern Idaho. We can argue about our favorite seasons, but you can’t argue that spring brings some of the best weather, greenest landscapes and brimming lakes and reservoirs. If you’re not getting outdoors, you’re missing out on something special, so here are some suggestions to whet your appetite.
Hike & Bike the Foothills
Let’s jump right in with a no-brainer. With over 190 miles of trails, there’s an amazing variety that lend themselves to everything from a short hike with kids (try Elephant Rock Loop) to epic mountain bike rides suitable for Olympic training. Depending on snowpack and spring weather, the trails in the lower Foothills are usually in good shape when the upper trails can still be muddy, or even blocked by snow. You can wake up on a weekend morning, hit the Foothills for a couple of hours, and then stop by your favorite lunch spot or beer joint afterwards. It’s a quintessential Treasure Valley day.
Get on the Water
For living in the desert, we have an amazing amount of water nearby. Ponds, lakes and reservoirs are brimming with cool, clean water that is the perfect temperature for trout and kokanee salmon, but also warm enough for warm water species, such as bass and bluegill. If you’re a power boater, hit larger reservoirs like Lucky Peak, Arrowrock or C.J. Strike Reservoirs. If you prefer a canoe, kayak or float tube, local ponds are good options, or head to Lake Lowell, which is suitable for most craft. Even if you’re not an angler, being on the water is time well spent when the day is sunny, the foliage is blooming, and songbirds provide a live soundtrack. One word of caution: avoid rivers in May unless you’re a seasoned whitewater boater. Rivers are running fast and cold during May, so unless you’re with an outfitter, give them time to recede and become more user friendly.
Hit an Early Season Camp Spot
People who wait until Memorial Day weekend for their first camping trip are missing some of the best camping weather of the year, especially at low-elevation destinations such as Hells Canyon. One of North America’s deepest gorges is as green as a golf course, but teeming with deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bald eagles, wild turkeys and more. Idaho Power has a series of first-class campgrounds between Brownlee and Hells Canyon reservoirs that feature manicured lawns, paved RV pads and electrical hookups. If a spring squall rolls through, you can fire up the furnace and ride it out. This is also another destination for anglers, so don’t forget your fishing gear. Bass and crappie fishing can be off the charts. C.J. Strike is another great spring destination with both developed and undeveloped campsites on the shore of the reservoir.
Take a Weekend Road Trip
You can beat the rush to Idaho’s favorite getaways, including McCall and Sun Valley where it can be easier to find a hotel room. It’s also a good time to explore places you might overlook across Southern Idaho. Hagerman and the complex of Thousand Springs State Park are great spring destinations. Don’t miss Box Springs, Ritter Island, Malad Gorge and others. Go a little farther down Interstate 84 and you can see Shoshone Falls, aka “Niagara of the West” at Twin Falls, which typically runs at its highest volume of the year during spring. There’s a good chance you will see crazy-brave BASE jumpers leaping off scenic Perrine Bridge and parachuting to the shoreline of the Snake River.
Chasing spring waterfalls