Idaho Parks and Recreation Blog
Click on the image, title, or “read more” to view the full blog post.
The state-wide Junior Ranger program was started in Idaho State Parks in 2017. It provides a major marketing component for the agency that connects directly to the agency mission, provides a rallying point for staff and volunteers, adds another attraction, and provides a way for youth to make meaningful and lifelong connections with parks, helping to secure a stronger future for state parks.
And as the outdoor recreation industry continues to grow, we welcome the many changes along with it. Notably, the increase in diversity, equity, and inclusion movements across the nation, which help to promote the message that the outdoors are for everyone! One example of this comes from a study done by the Outdoor Industry Association. They found that for more than the last decade, women have only represented about half of the participants in the outdoor rec world. But those numbers are growing! And we want to celebrate the dedicated women in our agency who help to keep your Idaho state parks open and running!
It was one of those late spring mornings that felt like a mid-summer afternoon. The smell of exhaust and the low rumble of a dozen engines hung in the mountain air. Faces peeked out from behind the helmets of new and veteran riders alike as each prepared themselves for the upcoming course.
Bags of trash in hand, nine students took to the trails of Eagle Island State Park. Their goal: collect litter, learn about nature, and monitor recently installed bird boxes within park bounds. The students talked excitedly amongst themselves, asking questions about wildlife and local flora.
In these strange times of uncertainty, we want to remind you that your Idaho state parks will remain open and are a great place to explore the outside world–while still maintaining a safe distance from others.
Your safety and well-being is a top priority to us, so we’ve implemented a few changes for the health of both you and our staff.
They know they are messing with us…you know…birds. After hundreds of years and billions of bird records, well-respected ornithologists have amalgamated and synthesized the data into field guides. From Roger Tory Petersen’s 1934 A Field Guide to the Birds to The Sibley Guide to Birds (2nd Edition, 2014) man has attempted to describe the appearance and behavior of birds.
Birding Big Year (Birder’s Log 1/1/2020): Traditionally the Big Year begins with an all-out effort to list as many species as possible on the first day – so that during the doldrums of January to March, one can still feel a sense of accomplishment – that the birder is still on track to reach some lofty goal (let’s say 300 by 12/31).
On the chilly, crisp evening of October 26th, Hells Gate staff and friends put on a spooky hayride for the public to enjoy. Leading up to the loop, guests were warned to “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” and to “TURN BACK NOW WHILE YOU STILL CAN!” When it was too late to turn around, hay-riders were told “WE”VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU…”.
Things to do at Bruneau Dunes State Park.
Bruneau Dunes State Park is famed for their incredible night sky clarity. Because of the pristine star gazing opportunities, they are actively seeking certification as a Dark Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association. Far from the light pollution of the city, the way that Bruneau’s night sky illuminates the surrounding desert is awe-inspiring.
When we hear the word ‘interpretation’ most of us think about language, but interpretation means so much more than translating. Interpretation is the act of teaching others about the cultural, historical, and biological influences of an area. Many of our Idaho State Park Rangers are skilled interpreters, familiar with the history and terrain, they are able to share some of the most awe-inspiring stories, facts, and views with their groups.
The Sacred Heart Mission, constructed in 1850 and completed in 1853, is the perfect setting for a magical, romantic wedding experience. The Mission and grounds provide a beautiful and tranquil location for an intimate wedding or a wedding with a guest list up to 500 people. The Mission is available for weddings, regardless of religious backgrounds, is easy to find and has ample parking.
A partnership between Boise Parks and Recreation, Lucky Peak, and the Southern Idaho Sailing Outreach (SISO) resulted in a “first-of-its-kind” sailing camp for children. The pilot program was completed in August and they are looking forward to expanding the program next year.
A week-long writing camp at Harriman State Park.
For many writers, being nestled under a starry night sky in the woods is enough to ignite inspiration. For others, a solitary log cabin or the gentle sounds of a nearby lake is what puts pen to paper. Yet other writers work best in groups, talking over ideas and working through their story arches. Whatever does the trick for you, Writers at Harriman has what it takes to get the words flowing.
Each year, several parks will host Teacher Workshops designed to connect participants to park resources and educational opportunities. These are typically two-day courses that are designed for teachers getting their continuing education credits. However, they are open to anyone who is interested! The workshops are structured to help educators incorporate the workshop subjects into their lesson plans. The workshops also promote the use of living classrooms (also known as outdoor classrooms).
On May 21, 2019 the doors to Lake Cascade State Park’s brand new Visitor Center opened to the public. More than 100 people turned out to tour the new Center.
The project was a long time coming and boasts many new amenities that guests can enjoy for decades to come!
Interpretation is a communication method that helps visitors connect to the meaning of a place. And no, we don’t mean being bilingual and interpreting different languages (albeit, that is a fantastic skill!), but rather, this form of interpretation acts as an interpreter for culture, history, and science–an interpreter for nature!
The walls of the vast, empty concert hall seemed to go on forever. Row after row of vacant seats stare silently at the stage, each holding their breath for the evening to come. Soon, hundreds of people will pour in through every entrance, laughing and conversing before conductor, Julie Sorensen, commands the stage with the Idaho State Civic Symphony.
Over 56 miles of beautiful forested trails.
The Idaho City Area trail system is one of the finest year-round trail systems for non-motorized trail users in the Northwest. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has worked cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service and user groups since 1977 to develop a top-notch trail system in the Idaho City area.
The Long-billed Curlews are returning to their breeding grounds in Idaho once again and they need your help!! This charismatic bird species is North America’s largest shorebird and relies on grassland habitat for nesting during April, May, and June. Protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and listed as an Idaho Species of Greatest Conservation Need, the Long-billed Curlew has been in a dizzying decline, ~95% in SW Idaho over 40 short years. Satellite tracking research conducted by the Intermountain Bird Observatory (IBO) has uncovered that the likely cause of this decline throughout SW Idaho has been due to poaching.
Nearly 73 miles of continuously paved trail.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes winds through both history and beauty as is saunters and turns around the Gem State. Established as a trail and adopted as an Idaho State Park in the early 2000s, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes has a lengthy past. And now, what was once an old railroad to support the booming mining industry, has transformed into one of the longest continuously paved trails in the United States, spanning an impressive length of nearly 73 miles.
Tammany Creek is a stream that runs through part of Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston, Idaho that has operated as a living classroom location since 2014. The creek, while beautiful, has suffered ecological damage, mostly due to improper upstream land uses like removal of riparian vegetation, and natural factors like long-term changes in rain/snowfall patterns. Like many parts of Idaho, Tammany Creek became overrun by blackberry bushes, which pushes at the edges of the stream, altering habitats, and contributing to erosion, and reducing ecosystem function.
This bonding often begins for us as children. Driven by an innate sense of wonder and exploration, we go gallivanting in to the woods to find something that we have never seen before. Nostalgia brings memories of family camping trips and weekend getaways—where the sunset was brighter, the food was tastier, and adventure was never far away. As children, our imagination flourished in the wilderness, and we have fostered that into adulthood through conservation, safe outdoor practices, and education.
Water trails—it’s a fluid concept (pun intended). Like other types of trails (pedestrian, equestrian, ATV), water trails are simply corridors connecting recreational destinations. They take you from one point on the map to the next, but by water instead of on land. Also, like other types of trails, water trails embody a variety of values and provide a variety of services—recreation, conservation, education, interpretation and economic development.
The inception of the Intermountain Bird Observatory (IBO) began with Greg Kaltenecker in 1993 when he and his professor, Dr. Marc Bechard, discovered a concentration point for raptor migration near the Boise Ridge. Together, they began a long-term study of bird migration, and after partnering with Boise State University, IBO was born.
The sun peaks out from behind the clouds as they slowly move across the sky. The towering tree branches wave like giants and bugs skitter across the warm pavement. Birds sing to their loved ones and stretch their wings while a lazy pup snoozes in the distance. A gentle breeze carries the scent of roses from the garden across the street; a honey bee leaves the hive in search of this fragrant rose. There is so much movement, so much life that springs anew in the warming sun as winter fades to memory.
For most, frosty windshields and freezing fingertips may not trigger the desire to be outdoors, but most Idaho State Parks have year-round overnight options available—in yurts, cabins, and restored historic buildings. Your state parks also have a selection of Nordic activities to keep those chilly toes entertained all season.