We have so many recreation sites that bear the names of interesting folks, many with a pioneering and independent spirit. Knowing the history of an area enhances the experience, whether hiking, rafting or dirt biking. It gives you an appreciation for the pioneers and the land.
Last week, I got a question from a reader about the story behind Chief Parrish Recreation Site along the Payette River next to Idaho 55 between Banks and Gardena (north of Horseshoe Bend).
It's a popular place where rafters and kayakers launch and take off the river. It's also popular for a picnic about halfway on a float trip from Banks to Beehive Bend, another river-access point.
Motorists use the Chief Parrish site for a picnic stop, or to let the dogs swim in the river. It's also located at a giant eddy and pool in the river, which is popular for swimming and wading. A small beach is exposed along the bank when the river drops.
It's such a beautiful spot nestled in ponderosa pines and other trees and shrubs.
Now about the history. The site was named after Albert L. "Chief" Parrish. According to his family, he homesteaded the 2.5 acres in 1949. He and his wife raised a family on the property while Parrish worked as a logger.
It was a peaceful and secluded spot before the rafting boom that started in the late '70s and '80s.
Chief Parrish's wife died in 1971, and he continued to live at the site until 1983 when he moved to a nursing home in McCall, the family said. He died April 5, 1985.
Parrish, who was Cherokee, was born in Oklahoma and moved to Idaho. He got the nickname "Chief" and it stuck, according to his family.
After Chief Parrish's death, the land reverted to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Soon after that, a BLM fire crew removed the buildings and started construction of the recreation site.
Over the next five years, the federal agency developed it, including building a restroom and parking lot. Crews installed picnic tables, grills and stairs to the river.
The improvement of the Chief Parrish site was part of the larger Payette River Recreation Project, which included recreation sites on the river from Beehive Bend to Banks, and on the South Fork of the Payette River from Banks to the Danskin ramp between Garden Valley and Lowman.
Remember the culvert take-out point on the Payette River? It was closed because of congested parking along the dangerous shoulder of busy Idaho 55.
Who could forget the Worm Farm? It was a launching point near the confluence of the Middle and South forks of the Payette.
Remember walking across the Deer Creek Bridge to launch on the South Fork? It was blown up and replaced by the Deer Creek launch downstream.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors