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!!!