The term world class is often used to describe scenic places in Idaho, but for Silver Creek Preserve, it definitely applies.
Its one of the most photographed spots in the state, and it attracts people from all over the country and the world. Its also where a family can spend a day picnicking, nature watching and learning about a unique and special place.
Silver Creek Preserve is near the small town of Picabo about 2 1/2 hours from the Treasure Valley. It is owned by The Nature Conversancy and is the centerpiece of about 10,000 acres of land dedicated to conserving the natural and agricultural landscape.
The preserve itself is 883 acres and has two spring creeks flowing through it. It has a visitors center and a nature walk.
Preserve manager Dayna Gross or another staffer leads people on nature walks every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. through Labor Day weekend. The guided walk is free and suitable for all ages.
Self-guided tours are another option. The 3/4-mile-long nature trail has lots of interpretive signs that describe the habitat and wildlife of Silver Creek.
The area is home to or visited by 150 species of birds and is one of the top birdwatching spots in the state.
You can also see a variety of animals ranging from squirrels to moose.
The vegetation is an interesting blend of sagebrush, hardwoods and marsh plants with crops and mountains in the background.
You can also spot trout in the cool, clear waters of the stream, and those trout attract fly anglers from around the world.
The preserve is restricted to fly fishing only, and the trout are notoriously wily, so you might want to save the fishing for another day, or a friendlier fishing location.
For those who have a canoe, Gross recommends a float through the preserve, which takes about an hour and a half. You will have to run your own shuttle, but its a pretty easy bicycle shuttle on dirt roads.
The nature walk is suitable for all ages, and theres always something to see. Mornings and evenings are the best times to spot wildlife.
Bring a picnic and find yourself a perfect spot to spend a couple hours of relaxing. Have your camera and a pair of binoculars handy, and you will see some of natures finest handiwork.
While Silver Creek Preserve has some development, such as the visitors center with restrooms, roads and parking areas, dont expect it to be like a state park. Conditions are intentionally rustic because the emphasis is on preserving the naturalness of the place.
Getting there: The preserve is 138 miles from Boise. Take Interstate 84 east to Mountain Home, then take U.S. 20. east for about 73 miles. From the flashing yellow light at the intersection with Idaho 75, drive 7.1 miles on U.S. 20/Kilpatrick Bridge Road, where theres a brown sign that says Silver Creek Preserve. Turn right, go over the bridge, and follow the dirt road to the visitors center.
Fees: Visiting Silver Creek is free, but donations are welcome to help offset costs of keeping the preserve open to the public.
More information: Go to nature.org, and do a search for Silver Creek.
Dont forget: Your bug spray or camera. You might also bring an extra pair of shoes for the kids, or shoes that are comfortable if they get wet.
Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors