The Great Canyons of Central & Southern Idaho
If the United States had one defining natural features, something that was not made by human hands, but which was carved out of the natural world by the natural world itself, what would it be? I think there are a lot of answers to this question but the thing I would suggest as being the most exciting and defining feature of the United States would be the Grand Canyon. In fact, I think this country’s canyons are some of the most beautiful in the world and the canyon itself as a feature is something to just blow your mind and take your breath away. The wonderful state of Idaho is one of the best places you can go to find one or more of these wonderful and awe-inspiring canyons, partly because it is one of the best places to go to find wonderful and awe-inspiring rivers. You cannot really have a canyon without a river (At least the river had to be there somewhere in the canyon’s past), and Idaho certainly has some excellent rivers and canyons. If you are unfamiliar with the landscape of Idaho and all of its low and high places, I want to give you a little rundown on the different canyons of Idaho that are most worthy of a visit. They are sure to leave a lasting impact on you.
The first thing you are probably going to think of when your mind moves to rivers and canyons in Idaho is the Snake River. There are plenty of parts of the Snake River that are not surrounded by canyons and sometimes there are more beautiful things to worry about like Shoshone Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world with such copious amounts of water falling along the river that you might actually go deaf if you get too close. And there are also fun and interesting dams to explore so there is quite a lot to do and see along the Snake River. However, the Snake also has some of the most interesting and unique canyons. My own favorite spot can be found next to Twin Falls, Idaho (Conveniently right next to Shoshone Falls) where the river has lazily cut out a canyon unlike any other. The terrain around the river here is deep below the surface of everything else and there is enough room down there for a significant amount of building real estate. There are golf courses, homes, businesses, and other buildings where you can live or have a good time. The walls of the canyon are tall and cliff-like but there is plenty of land beneath those walls. And there are also some really beautiful spots along the river that are much more like what you might typically expect when you think of a canyon. When the light hits things just right you are going to find some of the most beautiful scenery.
There is also a lot going on around Bruneau, Idaho, a small little town that is right next to the Bruneau Sand Dunes and Bruneau Canyon. A part of the Snake River branches off around Mountain Home Air Force Base and Bruneau, Idaho to create its own little section of river and a very interesting canyon as well. Bruneau Canyon itself looks very much like what you would expect. It is still a beautiful location and is as stunning as all canyons, but I think the truly interesting thing about Bruneau Canyon is just how flat everything around the canyon is. Other canyons can have quite a lot going on beyond their walls. There might be a city built up nearby and mountains that spread off into the distance but if you were to climb the walls of Bruneau Canyon you would come up to plains and simple flat land. And do not mistake me, this land is almost just as stunning as the canyon itself. The way it moves on and on beyond your ability to see is stunning and difficult to comprehend, even when you are standing there to see it. The area can be pretty dry around the canyon but there are times and places where you will find wide and long fields of grass that sway in the wind and beckon you to go and lie down in the soft embrace and maybe just take a nap for a little while. And of course, there are the dunes nearby. Bruneau Canyon tends to go on but at the mouth of the canyon near the town of Bruneau, you can experience the strange placement of tall and impressive sand dunes out of place in the world. There is even an oasis to give you the full desert paradise feel.
Lastly, there is the Salmon River and the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. As the name suggests, the canyons here are a little bit more impenetrable than that of the Snake River Canyons and Bruneau Canyon. Bruneau Canyon can be a little hard to get to depending on where you go, and the Snake River is generally something you can just drive up to. The Frank Church Wilderness is mountains and rocky and the roads are pretty much all dirt (If you can even find the roads). Regardless, you would be hard-pressed to find more beautiful and pristine land. Because of its status as a wilderness area (And because the land is pretty hostile to development), there has been very little in the way of human touch on the land. The Salmon River has created quite a canyon through the middle of the wilderness area over however many eons it has been flowing and every inch of its length is beautiful and staggering in its impressiveness. Overall, it is not the best place for tourism but if you are prepared and know where you are going, you can check out some incredible things and maybe even go for a rafting trip down the river itself, fighting against rapids and spray with friends and family.