All about Great Wolf Lodge

Best indoor water park

Most detailed review

We recently went on a family vacation where we wanted to go someplace warm during Thanksgiving. But we live in Idaho and are on a budget and wondered where we could go.

Thanks to Groupon emails we first learned of The Great Wolf Lodge in Centralia, Washington State. We had no idea that place existed before and that there is a whole chain of those indoor water parks across the US and even Canada.

They all operate the same with a few differences due to construction and location, but it is indeed a fun family place to be for every season. The temperature inside remains the same, warm and cozy in the winter and cool in the summer.

The decorations are always so pretty and woodsy and ready for every season.

We went for Thanksgiving and it was all decorated for that theme with a huge meal buffet style. It was a little spendy (adults $84 each and children $30) but amazing. Anyone could go eat there on Thanksgiving-day even if they hadn’t booked a room.

On the very next day when we got up, everything was already decorated for Christmas. Staff there had worked all night to leave it all ready at the nick of dawn. It was beautiful!

Ages

The park is for all ages, though beware that families with children younger than 12 were mostly seen at the Lodge. We did see a teenager about 15 years-old entering with his parents and having a meltdown saying: “But this place is for little kids!”… Ooops!

I would say most of the activities at the Lodge are for children, and the children at heart. But any teenager would love the water park, even the ropes course outside.

There are also arcade games, where we did see more teens and the Moon Howling Mini Golf under UV light bringing the characters alive.

Check those out here in these videos, we have several in our Youtube Channel: Rosie’s Family Travel and Adventure Channel …

The rooms

Check out different fun rooms that children and parents will love!!!

Even the standard room is fun, but for a little more money, you can choose these types of rooms.

Pets

No pets are allowed at the lodge except service dogs.

However, as we were walking in the Lodge, we did hear a few dogs barking from one of the rooms.

It was Thanksgiving and I am sure most Pet Vacation shelters were all busy for the season, so book that ahead during a holiday season.

There is a pet resort close to the Lodge in Centralia, WA that charges $21 a day and has had great reviews from several dog owners.

Check in/out

You may check in at the lodge at 1 pm and start playing right away. Check out is at 11 am though you may request a late check out until 2 pm depending on current offers.

Either way, whenever you check out from the room on your last day, you are welcome to come back and stay, play, and hang out anywhere in the Lodge until 8 pm on that day.

It is recommended to stay at least 3 nights to be able to play and see all that is available to do at the Lodge. We did that and there were still a few things we weren’t even able to complete. But it was still a load of fun.

Here is a summary of our first day there…

The Welcome

While you are checking in by the very friendly staff, your children will receive cute wolf ears. Our children were very excited with those.

Then you are given three different Paw Pass offers for your children. Those are for all other activities available for the children, apart from the water park.

The water park is free with hotel stay.

When I read instructions about the Great Wolf Lodge, I had read that you couldn’t only do the water park, you have to book a room in the Lodge.

Paw Passes

This item purchase, apart from the room stay, will be of very importance for your children.

There are so many other activities to do at the lodge that if you bundle the activities together into Paw Passes you can save up to half the costs or more for each.

Here is a copy of the paper they gave us explaining how the paw passes work.

They recommended the Pup Pass for our 5 year-old daughter, but she could have easily done the main Paw Pass as well, it’s up to parents criteria, but she did enjoy her Pup pass and all the activities it included.

Our 9 year-old son was recommended the most common Paw Pass. It had a few different activities than the Pup Pass but he was still very happy with it too.

The next level is the Wolf Pass. Our 9 year-old could have done it too, with unlimited ropes course, but it was more expensive and we were on a budget, so we just got the Paw Pass.

Item Trade-ins

The good thing about the Passes is that if you don’t like one of the items in there, you can trade it off for an activity or item that you liked more and want to do it again.

Many children love doing the MagiQuest or ShadowQuest with the magic wands, finding the posts all over the lodge with interactive devices that come alive when using the magic wand.

Our son however did not want to do that activity. He watched other children playing it and lost interest.

He asked me if he could trade that activity for the Howl at the Moon Glow Mini Golf.

We asked the staff and they did that switch for us. Since there was credit left over they added that to the Arcade Games and he was able to play a few extra games there as well.

Other fun, sweet, cute, and free activities

Every few hours there is a Great Clock Tower show. You will find real size dressed up character appearances that come walking to the Lobby, similar to Disney that the children love to hug and take pictures with.

There is exercise time with the kids that have too much energy in the morning. There are crafts to keep them busy when parents need to sit and have a little break.

At night the children have a story time with one of the dressed-up characters. Right after they have Wiley’s Bingo where half the children get prizes. Our children got lots of prizes there.

Then the last activity of the night at 9:15 is the Hustle & Howl Dance Party.

Our son was not interested in that at all, but our daughter was, she was going bananas over the parties each night! LOL!

Even after we came back home she would tell me: “Mom! We have to go back to the Great Wolf Lodge because I have to dance! It’s the best place ever to do that Mom! Let’s go now!” So cute.

The Best Indoor Water Park

And last but not least, let’s talk about the amazing water park that takes away all your stress, is a load of fun, re-energizes you for days afterwards, opens your children’s appetite, and you all get to sleep soundly and relaxed like bears during hibernation.

The wave pool

One great feature that will catch your eye as soon as you come in is the great wave pool. There are 6 lifeguards surrounding the pool at all times, however, parents are advised not to take their eyes of their children.

If they are not strong swimmers, the facility has lots of free life jackets of all sizes to share while inside the water park.

The giant bucket

Another next great attraction that will immediately catch your eye if you didn’t see water exploding everywhere at first, is the great water bucket splash.

This bucket dumps 1000 gallons of water every 5 minutes. It is a very fun feeling to be right under receiving the full dump. Some people lay down on the ground looking up, or looking down, just waiting for the splash on their faces. It could work for a good water massage.


Underneath the whole bucket structure there are countless hoses and constant squirt guns and smaller buckets you can plan on throwing at other passers-by.

Children height

When you finish climbing the structure there are 2 water slides to choose from. Children 42 inches-tall can use these.

For all the rest, if your children are over 48 inches-tall they can use the other big slides. Most of those big slides, the slides and structures go out of the building, do a few turns and tosses, then come back in the building, landing the sliders on different pools.

The Big Slides

On the River Canyon Run slide you go in inflatable tubes. You can choose to go single or double with someone with you.

I was sure glad for all the lifeguards making everything so safe. My son had gone to several slides by himself and even this one and when he went with me, our added weight, especially mine, made us go extra fast.

The efficient Lifeguards

The funny thing was that one time, when we hit the pool at the bottom, because of my weight and speed we were going, my son got expelled from our inflatable tube, dove in front of the tube, then the tube with me ran over him and he was under me.

I saw my son coming up right away and gasping and tried to grab him from the tube and almost chocked him, when the lifeguard told me, “Let go, I got him!”

Oh! What a relief that the lifeguards were so efficient!

Once on the side of the pool my son was laughing his head off and saying, “Mom, what were you trying to do? That was the best fun ever! I want to go again!” LOL!

The Scariest Howlin’ Tornado slide

My son absolutely loved this one. You go in it with a raft up to 5 people. It has a big drop and I screamed my lungs off. Once was good enough for me but he wanted to go again and again and again.

Howlin’ Tornado Slide

If you go at night, it’s all dark outside with a few disco-type of lights they place there. Still, you can’t see anything and orientation of how and where you are dropping from and to is impossible to know once in the tube. It was fun either way.

For the smaller children

Smaller pools for toddlers and squirt game structures for them to play in are also available. The water is up to knee deep, however there are several lifeguards there as well. Again, parents should still keep a constant eye on their children. There are a few smaller slides available too for children 1-5 years-old.

Gym pool

Another fun activity pool has basket ball hoops and a few balls to play with. There is also a log and other floatable structures for kids to practice climbing on without falling.

One area that attracts a crowd is a ropes obstacle course in one of the pools where kids and adults can grab onto the ropes and go through floating logs to the other side. If you miss your step and lose your grip, your splash in the water will be pretty big. Those that can finish it will get to the other side without getting wet.

Temperature

The water park has a constant temperature of 85 degrees and the water is warm too. However, after playing for a few hours, some of us get cold. There are hot Jacuzzi pools to get your temperature back in check. One of those pools is indoors and another one outdoors.

Other items at the water park

There are towels to grab at different parts of the water park and containers to leave them after they were used as well. There are lots of beach benches and chairs to rest if needed, as well as private tables and cabanas.

Our farewell

That was our hardest part. We really didn’t want to leave, especially our children. They both cried and begged to stay forever. If only we could!

Yes, we loved it and now we have to come back! Maybe we will do a Thanksgiving tradition and do this again.


This is much more affordable than Disney and as cute in a different way.

It was so worth it, every penny!

 

Best Trail to Pillar Falls

If you are looking for cool hikes and places to go in Southern Idaho,  there’s a beautiful attraction less than 10 miles from Shoshone Falls called Pillar Falls.  These are also located less than 10 miles from the city of Twin Falls.

Out of this world!

These falls are not as tall nor majestic as Shoshone Falls but the massive Pillars of stone in between the rapids are a must to see, to walk around, and explore.

One of the rock pillars has a small cave to climb into for fun, or to shield from the sun on a hot day.

Ways to get there:

Rowing

The best way to get there is on Kayak or Canoe coming directly through the Snake River from the city of Twin Falls, upstream until destination. Upon destination, if you go on the right side of the river, you will find that the water current is less and the massive rock serves as a parking for the kayaks.

Hiking

But if you are not planning on rowing your way to Pillar Falls and would rather hike down to it, there is a lesser known trail that will take you there.

Directions:

From Highway 84, go south on 93 to Twin Falls.
Turn left on E 4100 N and continue to go on this road, then turn left on Pole Line Road East. Continue for 2000 feet until you see the entrance of the trail to your left.

After that the road turns private so that’s where it ends for the public. There is a parking space right by the trail that only allows for 3 to 4 vehicles. Be careful of the cliff behind it. There is no guard rail.

Trail

When we started hiking down this trail with our small Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix, and our children ages 9 and 4, we noticed some parts were very steep.

The dirt trail is sandy, rocky, loose, and slippery. Our 9 year-old son on a distraction slipped and fell on his bottom and his bone hurt for a while. Thankfully no fractures.

Our daughter also fell but not as hard. We had to hold their hands until the trail was more level because some parts were very steep and slippery.

This was on a dry, hot, summer day. We were told that on wet or icy weather, the trail can be closed due to hazardous conditions.

Sometimes, the land owners on either side of the trail decide to close it and make it private property, and at other times they open it to the public.

When we went, it was open to the public and the weather was perfect for such adventure.

The trail is less than a mile but it is a taxing one, especially for the way back. Though it seems less slippery going up than coming down.

The trail goes down zigzagging a small waterfall then goes over an opening to a little more level ground, then climbs a little hill.

Here you will see the most spectacular views of the cliffs on both sides of the canyon and the Perrine Bridge down to the west. It’s a picture beauty spot.

As you continue the trail around the hill, suddenly you’ll have to climb down again on stair case rocks. You go a little slower if hiking with children, but it’s not impossible and they also love the adventure.

It was in these rocks that we saw some cute lizards.


As you continue down the trail, it becomes sandy and some big trees with ample shade make for a cool resting spot. The floor here is all sand and the kids took their shoes off and buried their feet and hands in the sand.

We continued the trail to the right until we saw a massive rock wall. If you want to reach the Pillar Falls, you have to go in the water, around this rock wall until you are up and can cross this part of the river to the rock islands where more massive pillars lay.

When we went end of last July, the water level was still pretty high, and we didn’t dare cross on foot with the children. We looked to see if we could cross over by swimming, but it was too far to try to do it with children and no floating devices.

So, we went west in burrowing trails among the trees and sand, bordering the river. We were looking for a place to spend the day and where we could try some fishing.

That trail ended at another massive pillar rock wall, and another rock overlooking a small bay. The view of Pillar Falls from there was fantastic. We decided to stop at that place and picnic with the children.

Footwear mishap…

Just when settling to sit and rest, my husband’s flip-flop broke. We wondered how he was going to hike back up barefooted.

But he decided to fix his flip-flop redneck style. We had all our fishing gear, so he got some fish line and 2 hooks and with that he was able to make his flip flop last until we hiked back to the car.

Swimming at Pillar Falls

Since we were still curious about the rock pillars and falls themselves, we took turns (so one of us could stay with the children) and swam over to the island.

I swam first against the current and made it. It was exhausting. I had to sit on the rocks once I got there for like 10 minutes as I had gotten dizzy.

Distance I swam to get to Pillar Falls Island.

Don’t try this unless you are a good swimmer. Other kayakers were looking at me as if I was crazy and would hang around making sure I wouldn’t drown. Next time we will bring a small board just in case, even if tied to the ankle.

I did find out that several people have drowned in the area. It is a place to be very careful. We were first timers and have learned our lesson concerning Idaho rivers.

On the Island

Once on the island with the Pillars, the exploring time was fun.

Several families that got there on kayaks and canoes were having fun. Some were sunbathing, others were climbing rocks and exploring, and some others were fishing some good trout.

Other more adventurous people would pick up their kayaks and climb with them over the rocks and pass the falls and then go back in the water to keep pedaling east. Their destination is to get as close as possible to Shoshone Falls.

We saw whole families do this. It made us want to try it. Hopefully next summer we will…

Swimming back to where my family was, was easier as the current took me there faster.

My husband tries to swim across…

Then my husband tried it. I told him the swim there was not as easy as it looked. He wanted to see the area too and if I had made it, he wanted to swim it too.

His experience was the same as mine, and some kayakers came around to make sure he was OK and that he would make it to the other side.

We were glad that the people there are friendly and keep an eye for each other.

My husband regretted doing that when he was in the middle of the swim. But he kept swimming and soon got to the rocks. He also had to sit for a while on them as he got dizzy from the effort and had to catch his breath.

We learned our lesson. Don’t do it without a board at least. Idaho rivers can be tricky, even if you know how to swim, and life jackets are a must. We were thankful the kids had stayed on the shore with one of us as we took turns.

My husband had a great time exploring but decided not to swim back to us.

The first time had scared him plenty and he had swallowed some of the nasty water. So he came back by bordering the previous rock wall. He said the current almost swept his feet off, and he had to go slowly. But he preferred trying that than swimming across.

Videos of our experience

Here is a video of our swimming experiences and exploring of the Pillars in the island:

Here is another fun video with our experience going down the Trail to Pillar Falls and back up:

Best season to go

For the adventurous in spirit, this is a fun hike. If you go in the fall, when the water level is lower, the crossing will be easier and you might not even get wet while crossing over the rocks.

Try to avoid going the spring as the water levels may be too high and very dangerous, hazardous to say the least.

Picture showing water levels in the spring and summer.

But if wanting easier access to Pillar Falls, kayaks and canoes are best. Next time we will do that.  Please consult with Kayak Rentals at Centennial Park, Twin Falls over the right water level time to go in the river.

Conclusion

Either way, the trail has some sights that were out of this world. You can’t really explain it and the pictures don’t do justice. The experience is still a must and it is the best hike in the Twin Falls area.

Shoshone Falls Idaho Trip

The Shoshone Falls are the biggest waterfalls of western United States. Called “the Niagara Falls of the West,” at 212 feet, these falls are actually higher than the Niagara Falls themselves.

Located at just approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of the city of Twin Falls, these waterfalls are the most epic point to visit on the Snake River.

The Snake River (highlighted in yellow) is the major river that runs through the State of Idaho. It starts in Yellowstone and Teton National Parks, in Wyoming, and crosses through Idaho and then borders north along Idaho and Oregon. The river flows into the Columbia River (highlighted in blue) in Washington, which ends on the Pacific Ocean.

The Shoshone Falls are the best natural beauty of the Snake River. The way the rocks are carved and how the water flows over them in several layers, makes for one of the most artistic and gorgeous waterfall settings in North America.

Accessibility and Cheap Admission Fees

Along with the amazing sights there are also parks for eating and recreation and handicap accessible as well.

The Shoshone Falls Park admission is only $3.00 per car (subject to change). It is not a State Park, it is a City of Twin Falls Park and they charge the fee.

Therefore, if you are an Idahoan and paid for the general State Park fee for the year and have the $5 waiver, that won’t work for this park. The $3 is the City Fee, not State Fee. Either way it is still amazingly cheap!

In the summer, the park is full of picnic tables under lush trees and green grass.

Here is a video of our family when we visited last August. We didn’t have much experience with the drone at the end, plus at times it was a little too windy:

The Shoshone Falls are very easily accessible throughout the year, including the freezing winters.

Hiking Trails and Dogs

The rustic trails are perfect for wild hikes, but dogs are required to be leashed in campgrounds, picnic areas, and waterfronts.

Marmots

The little critter that abounds in the area is the Marmot. You will see them in the grassy fields, on top of high rocks watching everything, and running to their burrows.

They are 4 to 5 times bigger than a squirrel. People at first confuse them with a small beaver or a fox until they look at them better. They are cute little creatures indeed.

Parking

Parking can get difficult to find during summer. Some have even decided to park at Dierkes Lake, which has more parking space, and walk down to Shoshone Park. Others park in the back roads of the park as well.

Can you swim at Shoshone Falls?

At the entrance to Shoshone Falls, there is another entrance to Dierkes Lake to the right. If you want to see the waterfalls keep going on the main road to the left.

If you want to swim go to Dierkes Lake where there are some amazing rock cliffs to jump into the water for swimming in a place where the fish are friendly.

Dogs however are not allowed at Dierkes Lake, except one day a year that the city announces ahead of time.

As for the Shoshone Falls, no, you cannot swim in the Falls area for obvious reasons of danger.

The Shoshone Falls can dry out

There are certain times of the year in which the Falls can dry out and all you get to see are massive rocks and no water going over them.

That doesn’t happen every year, but beware, the water that feed these falls come from the snow-melts from the Teton Mountain ranges.

If during the winter there wasn’t enough snow, or during periods of drought, these massive water falls can dry out.

We went once on a very dry year in September and there wasn’t much to see. It was very disappointing.

I remember a couple got married and wanted to take pictures of the waterfall and it was a sorry looking idea… I felt sorry for that couple. It did not look nearly as majestic as other times.

October could also not be the best moment to see the waterfalls.

We once went at the end of November and by then the Autumn rains had started in the mountains and valleys. Once again, the waterfall was stunning as the ice was forming around it.

We have gone in February and it is also beautiful to see such spectacle in the snow.


But for the biggest show ever, the Shoshone Falls are best to be seen during the Spring and Summer.

If the winter was long and heavy with snow as it was in early 2017, rest assured that the falls will be torrential, and the mist can even get you soaked on the walkways even half a mile away.

Beware as well, some tourists have noted that at times the mist is so big around March that the Falls are impossible to look at.

Can I kayak to the Shoshone Falls?

Yes. Although it is for experts only.

It will take a 7 hour round trip in Kayak from Twin Falls to this area, and it would be best to go with someone that knows how to get you through Pillar Falls first, as these areas could be dangerous.

Also, they would let you know what distance would be safe for you to watch the Shoshone Falls from.


For more information, check the Canoeing, Kayak, and Paddle rentals at Centennial Park, Twin Falls.

Can I use my drone to film?

Yes, but beware of the wind and mist… It is windy most of the time, sometimes too windy for flying drones in the area.

A time to Reconnect with Nature

However you decide to plan your visit, spending a day at Shoshone Falls will help one reconnect with nature and appreciate the wonders of Idaho.

Blue Heart Springs Family Boating Trip

Blue Heart Springs

With any quick google search on the best places to visit in Southern Idaho, there is a mention of a pristine gem beauty called Blue Heart Springs.

My family and I recently went boating there, or rafting.

It was a boat-raft, I guess.

Most beautiful swimming hole

Its waters are so pure and clear and turquoise blue, it reminds you of the Caribbean Ocean. Its water so filtered and pure you can even drink out of.

Beware of getting too chilled though as the water keeps a 59 F temperature year-long. However, it is still one of the most beloved swimming holes in Southern Idaho for its beauty, wonder, pure, crystal clear water, and peaceful surroundings.

 

Directions to Blue Heart Springs

Our experience at Blue Heart Springs was a very wonderful experience. The getting there was a different story.

I recognize I should have done a more thorough research on ways to get there, but I didn’t, and though we still had a fun family time getting there, we had a gruesome rowing back boating experience to our launching spot that left our arms stiff for about 4 days.

I will first tell you how we got there and our very adventurous experience. After that, I will mention other easier ways of getting there that don’t require the big effort we did.

However, be advised that it is not an easy place to get to for there is private land all around and some owners are not too happy with trespassers, so access to the river can be challenging.

I mentioned access to the river because the only way into Blue Heart is through boat or kayak. It is practically impossible to hike in from the rim of the cliff encircling down to Blue Heart.

View of the cliff above Blue Heart

For newbies to the area, some can get highly confused on the directions to Blue Heart Springs as there are no maps available except Google (the satellite images are better), and there is absolutely no signage on the river for the springs, nor for kayak returns if you are renting them.

So, taking note where you launch from for your return is a must.

Also, though Google Maps on Satellite mode show you all the roads with accesses, they don’t show you the gates where the private roads are closed to the public.

Deciding where to launch from

We had originally planned to go to Box Canyon, another pristine jewel of the area with turquoise waters as well (there are several in the area but the best ones are Blue Heart and Box Canyon), but wanted to take a by-road which by satellite images looked like a well ridden dirt road that would take us to the Snake River where we could launch our inflatable boat from.

When we got there, the entrance to Box Canyon was a small dirt parking lot by the S 1500 E Road that takes you there, and that was about half a mile away from the rim of the canyon, and the by-road I had expected to take was closed with a heavy iron gate, you could only hike in from there.

That was going to be too much to carry a boat down all the way to the Snake River as we had planned, for to the Snake River it was about 2 miles from that parking lot.

Finding access to Snake River

So we quickly decided to reroute and try a plan B. We kept driving south and saw a road that went east (3500 S), where we wanted to find an entrance to the river. All the dirt roads going north from that road with access to the river were closed to the public with iron gates.

We finally ended at a small dirt parking lot that had a hiking trail down to Banbury Springs (The cold spring ones that look like a marsh and perfect for bird watchers. Those are right across the river from Banbury Hot Springs).

At that point we were half a mile from the snake river and we decided to hike down with the boat and launch from there because we didn’t want to go too far and we didn’t want to lose more time as in the day getting later. It was not the smartest idea.

We should have just explored Box Canyon, which is something that is still on our bucket list to do. We were so obsessed with going to Blue Heart that we decided to hike to the river with the boat and our snack bucket with our snorkel gear as well.

We even took our drone that we ended not using due to lack of time. It was already 3 pm on that July evening. The sun would set at 9 pm so we figured we could still do it.

Landowners on trespassing, not OK

While we got ready to hike down and connected the boat inflator to the car to speed things up a little, a red truck came over and asked us what we were doing.

I told them our plan to go to Blue Heart and they laughed said we would need someone to pick us up as we wouldn’t be able to row back, and that we couldn’t get into private property (they were the owners).

They also wanted to make sure we wouldn’t be getting drunk, which with young kids, and our plans, they believed us when we told them we weren’t going to drink, we don’t drink anyhow.

But I told them the hike down to Banbury was public access, they agreed but just wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing… And with that, they left. Oh well…

Hiking down to the Snake River

The hike down with the boat, the bucket, and the water, in 97 F weather was grueling. We got down there covered in sweat and there were no shortcuts.

We were excited when we finally made it to the river and jumped in the water to cool down.

A Snake under our feet!!! Yikes!!!

Then just as we were getting in the boat, a snake swam by us under our feet. I don’t know what snake it was, in honor of the Snake River, but it was black with yellow stripes on the sides, most likely some type of garter snake.

Anyways, back in the boat, we finally relaxed as the current just took us to destination in about 45 minutes. We saw the creek that indicated the entrance to Box Canyon, the sights were nice.

We had ourselves, 2 adults, 2 kids, and a rat terrier/chihuahua mix in the boat and she kept jumping all around in excitement.

Arriving at Blue Heart, Finally!!!

We could see the entrance to Blue Heart approaching and we were so excited. There was a tad bit of current and we had to row a bit to make it in the cove.

Before we made it in the cove, we could already see the water had turned crystal clear and it already looked beautiful and we could see the bottom of that part of the river. Then we were there, we finally made it!!! There were 2 other motored boats there with families also enjoying.

We quickly looked where to tie our boat so we could go for a swim and start snorkeling.

We found a grassy bank near the entrance with some trees and we decided to go there. It was a bad idea. It was very muddy and there were lots or mosquitoes, and we had forgotten the repellent! So, we went across to the rocks toward the cliff.

Too cold to swim for long

Our children and my husband immediately decided the water was too cold to swim across to the rocks. My husband Angel walked around the cove with our dog and met us there as I put the kids back in the boat and I swam back to the other side pulling the boat by the rope.

By the time I got there, I couldn’t be in the water anymore. It was too cold. We had wanted to bring our wet suits to endure the cold arctic waters, but we ended leaving them in the car because they were going to be too heavy to carry them down to the river, then back up…

Either way I fitted my kids with their snorkels and face masks so they could snorkel from the boat, only putting their face in the water while their bodies were in the boat. And they loved it! Soon my husband and I joined.

Fish and Bubbling White Sand!!!

We saw a trout swimming under us and several little fish of yellowish color. We also saw the white sand bubbling. That was where the cold springs were coming out of. It was an amazing sight! It’s all recorded in the video that follows including the stunning underwater sights at the end of it…

We had learned that the water in the springs in the whole Hagerman 1000 Springs area came from the mountains up north, from Stanley and Sun Valley.

The snow melt creates a river each spring called Lost River as it suddenly reaches a point in the valley where it just disappears into lava holes (the whole area used to be volcanic thousands of years ago).

And so, the water keeps going down South until it comes in all the springs and/or waterfalls of the Hagerman area.

One of those is Blue Heart and it was so much fun watching the spring come out from under the cove water and seeing the white sand bubbling. That’s not something you usually see in the ocean.

Wrapping up

After some time of snorkeling and then thawing back up on the rocks that were warm thanks to the sun, we decided it was time to head back to our car. It was already 7 pm. We were sad. We didn’t want to leave. We promised next time we would plan better and spend more time there.

The rowing back upstream was truly grueling. It took us 2 hours! Then it took us half an hour to hike back up to our car with all our stuff. We got there past 9:30 pm. It was dark already and the moon was up.

We were so exhausted but relieved we were back in the car. For a moment when rowing we were so tired we thought we wouldn’t be able to make it. But we thankfully did and immediately went to our hotel at Twin Falls half an hour away.

Things we learned from the trip:

  1. Don’t go on an inflatable boat as the maneuverability is limited and the rowing on the Snake River can get excruciating, unless you like doing it that way. The other option is to get a motor. Our inflatable boat had the mount for it but we had no motor. Next time we will consider that.
  2. A kayak has definitely better maneuverability and buoyancy and will go faster with lesser effort. We saw about a dozen kayakers just enjoying their time sweetly. It seemed very worth it to do it that way. You can rent them as well as paddleboards just across the river from where we launched at Banbury Hot Springs.
  3. North of Banbury Hot Springs there is a Power Plant. When the owners of the land around Box Canyon talked to me, they told me the Power Plant would be a better option to launch from, but I was stubborn and didn’t listen. I thought going all around in-car would take more time from us, but it would have been a lot better than rowing upstream for 2 hours in a grueling way on the way back… But either way, the rowing on the river was still a great experience. We saw so many animals on the way as deer, muskrats, otters, all sorts of ducks and loons, and some good-sized fish jumping around. It’s an awesome place to fish by the way, that whole area for the springs make it an excellent trout breeding and feeding place.
  4. And last, but not least at all, if you go up north from the east side of the river to 1000 Springs Resort, they offer cruise tours and take you all over from Ritter Island and all those amazing and beautiful waterfalls, all the way to Blue Heart. That one is the easiest way to get there. You just sit and enjoy the views, even for handicapped access. The only thing is that your time in that tour is not flexible and depends on the cruise captain’s schedule, but it is a different option to choose from.

Conclusion

However you choose to do this trip, even though our rowing experience was hard going back upstream, it was a very interesting adventure. It was beautiful! No doubt about that! We definitely feel like doing it again and better, and leaving earlier so we can have the whole day.

Maybe we could even stay at Banbury Campground. The campground has hot springs and you can enjoy the hot pools, great campsites and beautiful views.

The campsite has lush, green grass canopied by tall cottonwood trees. The hot pools are adjacent to the Snake River and there are two waterfalls visible from the property.

Don’t forget to come prepared with plenty of water and any food or snacks as there isn’t much availability for such things at the resort. Otherwise, the water is beautiful and I’d highly recommend the kayak rental.

That whole Hagerman area is worth exploring and to see it all you need to think in having at least 4 or 5 days, especially if you want to do some great fishing.

This is a place that is really not well known, and there are no crowds. It is definitely a place where you can make memories for a lifetime. We highly recommend it for its beauty!!!

More to explore

Other places in the area to explore apart from Blue Heart are:

Box Canyon
Banbury Cold Springs
Banbury Hot Springs
Miracle Hot Springs, and a real live alligator’s home in Idaho
Ritter’s Island State Park
1000 Springs Resort (for boat/cruise tours and hot springs)
Hagerman’s Fish Hatchery
Vardis Fisher Pond
and more…
We will post more as we explore it! Until next time!!!

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