DAY TRIPS Swan Falls Park and Recreation Area
The park picnic area upstream from Swan Falls Dam is an ideal place for a picnic on a mild winter day. There are plenty of places to go hiking downstream from the dam and along the road that goes about 4 miles downstream.
The Snake River below the dam is popular for winter trout fishing and bird watching. The canyon scenery is magnificent and views from the rim before you descend into the canyon are impressive and worth a lot of photographs. It’s definitely an easy afternoon trip from the Treasure Valley.
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Getting there: Head south from Kuna on Swan Falls Road for 20 miles.
C.J. Strike Dam
One geocache is near North Park on the shore of the reservoir near the dam and another is near Scout Park below the dam. The parks are popular areas for winter fishing and bird watching. There are always lots of waterfowl on the reservoir and the Snake River below the dam. Even members of the local Audubon Society go bird watching in this area. Visitors will find educational displays about the area and facilities.
Getting there: Drive east on I-84 around 20 miles from Boise and take the Simco Road exit. Drive Simco Road to Idaho 67 and turn south toward Grand View. In a little more than a mile there’s a turnoff to C.J. Strike Dam. It’s marked. A segment of the road is gravel but it’s OK for cars.
Bliss Reservoir Park
This park is on the Snake River at Bliss Reservoir. It’s relatively unknown and is easily missed by travelers on the interstate above the Snake River canyon rim. It’s a popular place for bird watching, fishing and boating, even in the winter. It’s more popular in the summer for tour kayaking and motorboating because of its secluded location. The rugged canyon scenery is impressive.
Getting there: Drive I-84 east from Boise to the King Hill exit. Take old U.S. 30 east until the Bliss Power Plant Road (there’s a sign). Take the road until you come to the parks in the canyon.
Malad River Park
This park on the Snake River in the Hagerman area is a pleasant place for a picnic. There’s a historic fountain where in the past travelers would stop for a drink. Now there are interpretive displays that describe the area and its wildlife.
You can walk onto the flume adjacent to the park for an amazing view of the Malad River Canyon and the historic powerhouse. Take a drive down lower Malad Road, cross the wooden bridge and you’ll find another day-use park next to the Snake River where you can fish.
Getting there: Take I-84 east from Boise to the Bliss exit (No. 141). Drive through Bliss and turn off on U.S. 30 toward Hagerman. The park is before Hagerman. Turn to the right just before where the highway crosses the Malad River.
Lower Salmon Falls Park
The park is above the dam of the same name. It’s popular in the summer for boating and fishing. In the winter you’ll see lots of birds, maybe swans. It’s a beautiful place for a winter picnic and winter fishing. You’ll find educational interpretive information and heated restrooms.
Be sure to check out the unique raft slide for whitewater boating and sturgeon fishing access near the whitewater put-in. The whitewater run on the Hagerman stretch of the river is popular in summer.
Getting there: Follow the same directions to Malad River Park but go past the Malad River to Billingsley Creek. Turn right at Billingsley Creek on the Justice Grade Road and drive down to the park.
LONGER DAY TRIPS OR OVERNIGHTERS Woodhead Park
This park on the shore of Brownlee Reservoir is a haven for deer, eagles and other critters in winter, so don’t forget your binoculars or a spotting scope.
One of the best times to visit the area is during spring break. If you don’t mind an all-day drive, it’s one of the best places for wildlife watching in the winter. It’s popular with bass and crappie anglers in the spring, too.
The campground is open in winter with electric hookups and heated restrooms.
Getting there: Take I-84 west from Boise 47 miles to the Payette exit; go north on U.S. 95 for 50 miles to Cambridge and then take Idaho 71 west to Woodhead Park along Brownlee Reservoir.
McCormick is downstream from Woodhead Park and past Brownlee Dam. It offers year-round fishing and wildlife watching. It is on the Idaho side of the canyon along Oxbow Reservoir and has the same amenities as Woodhead.
Getting there: Drive about 15 minutes from Woodhead Park.
This park is just downstream from Oxbow Dam on the Oregon side of the canyon. It is on the upper reaches of Hells Canyon Reservoir. The park is popular for year-round fishing and wildlife watching in the canyon, especially in the winter. The drive downstream to Hells Canyon Dam offers more opportunities for wildlife watching and a chance to see bighorn sheep and mountain goats. The park has the same amenities as Woodhead and McCormick.
Getting there: It’s about 40 minutes from Woodhead Park going north past Brownlee Reservoir and along Oxbow Reservoir.