Story by Jennifer Okerlund
Want to plan your summer jam-packed with adventures, seeped in history and overflowing with photo ops? Sounds like memory making gold, right? It can be done. And the best part is, done affordably. Your Idaho State Parks offer ample opportunities to go exploring, so. grab your Idaho State Parks Passport and get ready to make this your best summer ever.
If you don’t already have your Idaho State Parks Passport, you can purchase them at any time for just $10 per year at your DMV, or in conjunction with your vehicle registration online or by mail. Visit www.idahoparkspassport.com for details.
Here are three passport adventure ideas within an hour or two from Boise:
PASSPORT ADVENTURE IDEA #1: NORTH AMERICA’S LARGEST DUNE
Just an hour from Boise is Bruneau Dunes State Park. The Dune is the largest single-structure dune in North America, and it’s a site to set your sights on. You can picnic, hike or sandboard. Evening star programs are offered at the park’s observatory most summer weekends. Park entry is free with your Idaho State Parks Passport. There’s a $3-$5 fee for programs. Campsites and small cabins are available to rent overnight. Tote your own sandboard or rent one from the park.
PASSPORT ADVENTURE IDEA #2: INCREDIBLE CANYON VIEWS
Bring your camera, pack a snack and check out Thousand Springs State Park and its many breathtaking units. Located in rugged southern Idaho, the park is a testament to why this area is called the “Magic Valley.” The park’s six units are all within short driving distance of each other. The Malad Gorge Unit is located just off Interstate 84 at the Tuttle exit. You’ve probably passed it before in a blink, never suspecting the canyon views that await just a mile off the highway. There are incredible views of the Malad River that crashing down stair step falls and into the Devil’s Washbowl, then cutting through a 250-foot gorge on its way to the Snake River. Thousand Springs State Park is a day-use park and free to explore, with your Idaho State Parks Passport.
PASSPORT ADVENTURE IDEA #3: THE ABANDONED PENITENTIARY
Did you know that Eagle Island State Park was once a working penitentiary farm? The historic structures remaining are remnants of that time. Visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours. Brochures are located at the visitor center. If history isn’t really your thing, try the park’s 18-hole course. Your Idaho State Parks Passport covers your park entry fees and use of the trail system and lake. The park’s waterslide is open Thursday-Sunday and rides are $12 for the entire day. Paddle board rentals are also available on site.