Imagine driving through modest farmland in southern Idaho, then stumbling upon a canyon oasis with the clearest, bluest spring water in the West. That’s what you’ll find at Box Canyon State Park, in the Twin Falls area of Idaho.
A short walk will take you to a pumping waterfall, several swimming areas, and even a small beach area to relax and enjoy the day. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Box Canyon State Park:
As you drive up and park, you will see a path leading to a viewpoint that will give you your first glimpse of the sparkling spring waters and views of the canyon from above. There were many marmots, birds of prey, and geese also enjoying the area. It is the 11th largest source of fresh water in the United States, with an average flow rate of 180,000 liters per minute.
Continue along the flat path to the left and you will get some impressive viewpoints along the way. There were times when it seemed like it was Idaho’s horseshoe bend!
Keep in mind that whatever you take with you, you must take it back. There are no trash cans along the trail and it is up to anyone who visits to keep the area clean and pristine. Be sure to use eco-friendly sunscreen if you choose to go swimming, as the water cannot remain as pure and clear as we allow.
To get to the water, you need to walk along the canyon wall, and then descend into the canyon. This can be done in a loop or round trip if you want to avoid the steep and difficult section at the first access point. That said, if you are fit and hike often, you will not find it difficult to hike, and this is a good way to go because you will have several viewpoints along the way, and this pumping waterfall.
The entire loop is about 6.3 miles along a mostly sand and rock path, and once you’re in the canyon, it’s pretty flat and easy. Passing in front of the waterfall, you will eventually cross the river and arrive at the beautiful swimming pool shown below on your left. Go a little further and you will find a beach-like area with a port-o-potty and easy access to swimming.
Just after that, you arrive on a dirt road that will eventually take you back and out of the canyon. If you want to avoid rocky pebbles, look for this road to the left of the path from the parking lot to make it a round trip rather than a loop.
Accessibility and payment
This area is about 30 km northwest of Twin Falls. Search for the Box Canyon Springs Preserve in Google Maps to be taken to the parking lot/starting point of the hike. You usually drive on rural backcountry roads to the exit of the state park.
Admission costs and there are two parking spaces – the closest to the canyon will be the second if you go further. Note that this park can become popular during the summer months and once the parking lots fill up, no roadside parking is allowed.
There are also port-o-potties at the trailhead that were well maintained, at least during my visit.
What else is in the area
Box Canyon State Park is just one part of the Thousand Springs area, and there’s a lot to see! Nearby you will find Ritter Island. In front of this island is the famous Lemmon Falls. It’s a very easy short drive from the parking lot to the falls. We’re only talking for about a minute. Although it’s a quick stop to see the falls, it’s also a nice place to spend an afternoon, along the Snake River.
There are also the Miracle and Banbury Hot Springs-developed hot springs that offer private pools that you can book, as well as larger geothermal heated pools.
I also did the Balanced Rock tour, and that’s exactly how it sounds! You will find a high rock perched on a ridge, and just behind a right turn of the canyon with grass, camping, picnic areas, and a great place to cool off in the afternoon.
Where to eat
Did you get hungry from your walk? Although there are several restaurants in the area, my favorite was the buzz-Eye BBQ. They have everything from grilled chicken to sausages, ribs, brisket, and more. You’ll see them grilling in the kitchen when you walk in! If you are looking for something lighter, they also have salads, which I ordered, in the photo above. For those with a sweet tooth, they also have pies, a cream cheesecake, and when I visited, lemon bars!
If you find yourself in Twin Falls, Box Canyon State Park is definitely worth a visit. This was one of my favorite parts of my visit! Do not forget to recreate responsibly.