Thousand Springs Scenic Byway


Thousand Springs Scenic Byway

The Thousand Springs Scenic Byway is a picturesque section of old U.S. Route 30 in southern Idaho between the towns of Bliss and Buhl, dipping down into the Hagerman Valley and a canyon of the Snake River.

The highway takes its name from the numerous streams and rivulets springing forth out of the east wall of that canyon, many of them plainly visible from the road, with the panoramic river in the foreground. These springs are outlets from the Snake River Plains Aquifer, which flows through thousands of square miles of porous volcanic rock and is one of the largest groundwater systems in the world. The aquifer is believed to be fed by the Lost River which disappears into lava flows near Arco, about 90 miles northeast of Hagerman.

The springs are well oxygenated and at a roughly constant temperature of 14°C (58°F), making their streams ideal for trout. In fact, some 70% of the trout grown in the United States are raised in hatcheries along this valley. Today, many of the strings have been diverted to produce hydroelectricity, such that there are not, in fact, exactly one thousand of them to be counted, but they are still impressively plentiful.

Among the other sights along the drive is Ritter Island, site of the former Minnie Miller Farm, once famous for its purebred Guernsey cattle. Where the highway climbs the bluff towards Buhl, it crosses Salmon Falls Creek, the gorge of which is a fantastic wonderland along almost its entire length. Other highlights are the Gridley Island Bridge which crosses the river between Hagerman and Thousand Springs, Sligars Resort (with a good view of Ritter Island), and the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.

External links

* [http://www.frankstehno.com/sagemesa/destinations/idaho/thousandspringssb/tssbintro.htm Frank and Anne Stehno’s Canyon Country Hiking & Camping Notebook]
* [http://www.byways.org/browse/byways/2038/ byways.org]


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