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An Idaho hidden gem lies between Mountain Home and Twin Falls, an oasis in the desert if you will. Thousand Springs State Park offers gorgeous views as thousands of gallons of water flow from below ground, cascading down the volcanic cliff faces. Once you experience this unique location you’ll know that Idaho is simply different in the best way possible.

Sup Thousand Springs 2 _ John Webster

For me, experiencing south central Idaho has always been a treat. The ever-growing hobby of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)  in Idaho waters is something that has captivated my interest. I love it because you can explore the tiniest streams with ease and access some places you might not normally be able to experience. For those looking to explore a place like Thousand Springs, your adventure will likely be best served by a non-motorized watercraft, like a kayak, canoe or SUP.

My friends and I chose Ritter Island for our day trip. It’s an iconic location in the park with a lot to offer when it comes to views and water. Just driving into the area, I found myself at peace listening to the roar of the surrounding springs. After pumping up our SUP boards, we glided onto the clear spring water. This is probably the most special part of this park. The water underneath our boards had been underground for almost 200 years before pouring out of the canyon walls. As old as it is, the water is some of the clearest in the state, allowing you to see straight to the bottom to easily see all the plant life and fish that linger just below the surface.

A look at Minnie Miller Barn on Ritter Island.
A look at Minnie Miller Barn on Ritter Island.

As we glided by Minnie Miller Bar, it was easy to get lost in the history of this amazing place. Before this land became a state park, it was host to French trappers in the 1800s, pioneers along the Oregon Trail in the 1840s, and other entrepreneurs who settled in the area. In 1918, a Salt Lake City businesswoman purchased the island and set up a state-of-the-art dairy. The barn, built back in the 1920s, is still intact and visible today. In 1954, the island was sold to Federal Judge Willis W. Ritter who used it as private retreat, hence the name.

Water pours from the canyon walls creating magical waterfalls.
Water pours from the canyon walls creating magical waterfalls.

The waters that flow through this area are a haven for adventures and wildlife alike. Herons call the island home and golden eagles can been soaring through the canyon. The springs that gush out of the canyon walls only add the uniqueness of this place. As the sun began to set, we pulled our SUPs from the pristine water to enjoy a picnic in the mini paradise that is part of Thousand Springs State Park. The chirping of birds and the calm crystal water were utterly blissful. Thousand Springs is a unique area that can be best described as a “diamond in the rough”.

A sunset over a waterfall.
A sunset view from Thousand Springs State Park.

All photos, including feature image, provided by John Webster.

John Webster is an adventure photographer based in Boise, ID. You can usually find him out on one of Idaho’s classic rivers or snowboarding powder fields. For more of his work go to

Published on June 28, 2016