Idaho is mostly known for its mountainous features. However, its northern parts are mountainous—the southern quarter of it is not. The southern quarter of Idaho is known as the Snake River Plain. It is a giant open plain that serves as almost an extension of the great basin. The plain was formed because of enormous volcanic explosions that occurred millions of years ago. The plain a dry semi-arid desert that is carved by fault lines, ancient volcanoes, and massive rivers. By all accounts, it should be the least interesting place in Idaho, but, it actually has quite a few amazing features to it making it just as interesting and fun to enjoy as the rest of Idaho. The following are a few of the great things to do and places to see along the Snake River Plain.
Bruneau Sand Dunes
Most people, when they think of Idaho, have a picture in their minds of sweeping potato fields, forested mountains and rafting rivers. They hardly ever think of sand dunes! But, despite all disbelief, there they are: the Bruneau Sand Dunes. These awesome mounds of sand, located on the western half of the Snake River Plain, are so much fun to spend a day or weekend exploring and playing on. There is also a small lake for fishing, and a campground for camping near the foot of the second largest dune of the set. Not to mention the awesome observatory that is open on weekend nights to view the stars on clear nights.
The tallest peak at Bruneau is the largest sand dune in North America and draws crowds to it every year. There is no ATV'ing on these dunes however, so leave the bikes and ATVs at home. We know, we know, it doesn’t seem all that fun to go to the sand dunes without them, but we assure you that it will be worth the trip.
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
While Bruneau Sand Dunes is on the west side of the plain, the St. Anthony Sand Dunes mirror them on the east side. Located a few miles outside of the city of St. Anthony these Sand Dunes are not as tall as Bruneau but are much more expansive. They spread out over a much larger area to create a Sahara looking effect. And, for those of you who love your ATVs, motorized vehicles are allowed according to our knowledge. (Be sure to check with the people who take care of the dunes before taking a trip down there though).
These Dunes are also very close to Yellowstone National Park so if you have some time after your visit to the dunes, you should head on over there to see one of the most beautiful places on earth. Be sure to respect the wildlife and stay on the designated paths though, not respecting the animals or the boundaries that have been set can lead to serious injury or death.
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument is an amazing place. It is a massive lava field that stretches for miles upon miles from the once active volcanic spot. There is a visitor center; trails that lead you up and around ‘cones’ of lava rock, over old lava flows, over some caves; awesome scenic outlooks; great historical and geological information and so much more. It is a great place to visit for photographers, outdoor enthusiasts, geologists, and anyone who likes exotic places. Be sure to bring sunscreen though!
The black rock stretches out so far and is so jagged that it seems almost like you have wandered into J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional land of Mordor. However, do not let that deter you as there are plenty of rest stops, places to get water, and not nearly as many orcs (wink).
It really is a fun place to visit if you want to see something different. They have several large caves in and around the area that are fascinating to see. Not to mention there are some that are so well insulated by the ground that they get cold enough to be covered in ice! No joke!
The Snake River
What would a list about the Snake River Plain be without mentioning the Snake River itself? The Snake River is a mighty body of water that brings life-giving moisture to a lot of the farms that boarder it. However, it is not just great for the agriculture, it is great for the tourist and outdoor enthusiasts as well. The Snake River has some great places for floating and rafting, not to mention some awesome opportunities for photography. However, the most loved part of the Snake River is the fishing. The fishing on the Snake River, whether you are into fly or reel fishing, is great. A fantastic adventure that is sure to leave a smile on your face and satisfaction in your heart.
There are also many offshoot streams and rivers from the Snake River that are great for fishing as well. Not to mention the tributaries. So, be sure to check online for more information about the best spots for fishing your favorite kind of freshwater fish.
Know by some as the Niagara of the West, the Shoshone Falls are some of the most magnificent desert waterfalls in the nation. They are massive and gorgeous— great for those who love to see the awesome power and beauty of nature.
These falls are part of the Snake River in what is known as the Snake River Canyon—one of the deepest canyons in the country (even deeper than the Grand Canyon in some places). This area of the canyon was where Evil Kanival attempted to jump the canyon but ended up being blown off course by the strong wind.
Due to the canyon’s deep depth in this area, there are many people who like to base jump from the bridges. There are some areas that are designated for base jumping and bungee jumping and they have grown in popularity with the base jumping community, being visited by hundreds of people each year.
Idaho is a wonderful place. Whether you want to vacation here or you want to live in this great state, then you will always find something worthwhile. Call or email one of our local real estate agents to find out more of the great fun you can have here on the Snake River Plain, or in Idaho in general, you will surely not be disappointed.