Magazine article Sunset

Idaho Oasis

Magazine article Sunset

Idaho Oasis

Article excerpt

When Oregon-bound pioneers rolled through what is now Idaho's Hagerman Valley, they were amazed at the plumes of water frothing from the black basalt walls along the Snake River. Immigrants called the area Thousand Springs, a name that remains today.

You can still see the spectacle at Thousand Springs Preserve-an easy side trip from Interstate 84 between Boise and Twin Falls. This month is an especially fun time to visit, as the preserve holds its annual Thousand Springs Festival of the Arts.

The festival, now in its seventh year, attracts firstrate artisans and craftspeople. A children's crafts area and musical entertainment keep festivalgoers of all ages occupied.

But Thousand Springs is well worth a visit any time of year. Maintained by the Nature Conservancy of Idaho, it's on 70-acre Ritter Island, which once was the unlikely home of one of the nation's top Guernsey cattle-breeding farms. Bird-watchers will find more than 150 species here, with waterfowl and raptors especially noticeable in fall. The placid waters surrounding Ritter Island are perfect for beginning canoeists and kayakers. Threading through the preserve and adjacent wildlands are easy hiking trails to scenic spots such as Minnie Miller Falls, the area's last free-flowing spring. …

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