Flickr album link: Malad Gorge ~ Thousand Springs State Park
Thousand Springs State Park is a vast natural area located next to Interstate Highway 84 in south central Idaho. This entire region was subject to massive prehistoric lava flows and over eons of time the basalt-rhyolite cap has been carved by the mighty rivers that run through this region. The Malad River runs through the length of this state park on its way to the nearby Snake River confluence and this tributary has cut through the volcanic cap to create a majestic gorge that extends as far as the eyes can see. The Malad Gorge is the main attraction in this park and it is very easy to access from the highway. Both sides of this deep abyss are also easy to experience, since a pedestrian bridge spans the gorge at its most picturesque point.
Malad Gorge is basically operated as a day use picnic area with an extensive hiking trail system. There are plenty of shade trees and picnic tables in a large grassy open space area that is perfect for group outings. Because of the volcanic nature of this region, the Malad Gorge is a prime destination for school field trip outings. The unique geological features of this deep river gorge are like a living lesson in earth sciences, so be prepared to stop and ponder over the significance when walking along the overlook trails.
Some of the best overlooks can be found on either side of the pedestrian bridge, while the views from the bridge itself certainly are fascinating to see. Looking north from the bridge will reveal the narrows of the gorge where powerful white water rapids cascade over Staircase Falls. The cascading water certainly does roar as it empties into the Devils Washbowl, which is practically next to the bridge, so this high vantage point certainly is a great spot to soak up the sights and sounds. On the other side of the bride is where the Malad River has carved a 250 foot deep gorge that extends south to the Snake River. Several spring fed small waterfalls can be seen along the canyon walls, so this deep gorge definitely is a haven for landscape artists. The birding action is hot too, since several species nest on the high ledges. For this reason, be sure to pack a camera for the ride because the memories will be well worth sharing back home!
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