Thousand Springs State Park Visitor Center to Provide New Opportunities, Convenience to VisitorsFriday September 25, 2020
HAGERMAN — Construction began Thursday on a new Visitors Center to enhance recreational and historical offerings for guests of Thousand Springs State Park and the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument by putting rangers and resources in a single location.
The project springs from a novel partnership between the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) and the National Park Service (NPS), which have agreed to co-locate to provide more services at less cost.
“The Hagerman Valley has wonderful recreational and historical resources, spread about a large and scenic area,” said Pete Black, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board. “This center will become the linchpin, the place where visitors learn about what’s on offer and chose their adventures.”
Thursday’s groundbreaking starts a 12-month construction project, which will result in a $2.5 million, 3,400-square-foot structure that will provide new opportunities for historical interpretation, improved recreational access and economic vitality for the Hagerman Valley.
The center will consolidate access to the seven units of Thousand Springs – Malad Gorge, Kelton Trail, Billingsley Creek, Ritter Island, Crystal Springs, Niagara Springs, and the Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve. It will also provide better access to the Hagerman Fossil Beds, bringing information and interpretation close to the archaeological site.
“We are absolutely delighted with the partnership project at Thousand Springs State Park” said Wade Vagias, Superintendent of Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service. “Together our two agencies will orient and educate visitors to and about the many wonders of the Hagerman Valley and I am looking forward to collaborating with our IDPR colleagues for years to come at the new park.”
The State of Idaho is building the center, while NPS has agreed to lease space for the next 25 years. Only a handful of such agreements are believed to exist in the nation.
“By linking the many parts of Thousand Springs and the wonders in the fossil beds, we provide a richer experience at a lower cost,” Black said.
In addition to the center, two related projects at Thousand Springs will boost recreational opportunities. A new, $460,000 bridge to Ritter Island, currently under construction, will provide better, safer access for visitors, and the 50-spot Billingsley Creek Campground, which will begin construction a year from now, will add needed camping opportunities. The $6 million campground is expected to open by early 2023.
Learn more about Idaho’s State Parks and Recreation Programs and follow the progress at Thousand Springs State Park online: www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/news. For more information about Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, please visit: www.nps.gov/hafo(link is external) and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/HagermanFossilBedsNPS(link is external).