Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve
Just west of Twin Falls is Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve, one of the five units that make up Thousand Springs State Park.
Keep your eyes peeled for the turnout to the front parking lot to Box Canyon, as it’s a bit tucked away.
You can park in the front parking lot or you can drive to the new parking lot in the back, saving you a mile walk.
You will come to an overlook of the nation’s 11th largest spring, where a pool of bright blue water shines in the midday sun.
Make sure to read the interpretive signs which contains loads of interesting information about this unique canyon, including what Box Canyon has in common with Mars.
As if this site in front of you wasn’t impressive enough, follow the trail and hike down into the canyon to reach a 20-foot waterfall that is simply beautiful.
The spring water discharged from Thousand Springs State Park comes from the Snake River Plain Aquifer. The Snake River Plain aquifer acts less like an underground pool and more like a river moving water underground from high areas to low areas. Depending upon where a particular particle of water enters the aquifer and providing it is not removed from the aquifer for agricultural or municipal purposes, it may take 12-350 years for that particle of water to emerge from the aquifer at Thousand Springs.
According to the sign at the entrance of the park the springs flow at 180,000 gallons a minute making it the 11th largest springs in the United States.
Because the water must flow through the cracks and crevices of the basalt rock that contains the aquifer the water is very pure. You may notice that there is a bright light green plant in the water. That plant is Water Veronica which is an indicator of stream health.
The water flows toward the Snake River. Just before reaching the river there is a diversion pond. From this pond water is piped across land and then goes under the Snake River to the fish hatchery on the far bank of the river. Part of the water from the diversion pond is allowed to flow directly into the Snake River.