MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
High in the Soldier Mountains, a natural spring trickles down the mountainside. At first, it's nothing more than a small creek, but before long, it builds into a steady flow, creating the South Fork Boise River. It winds its way through gorgeous valleys and canyons before spilling into the Boise River and then into the Colombia, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
It takes a little less than an hour to get there and the roads are easy for all kinds of vehicles to access. There are paved roads taking you directly to the Anderson Ranch and Arrowrock Reservoir regions of the river and any further driving is done on very well groomed dirt. Just about anyone can enjoy the scenic vistas and clear water.
On its way, the South Fork creates serene places to spend some down time and unwind. I've been stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho for just over a year and like C.J. Strike Dam, the South Fork is a staple attraction for my weekend adventures. I find myself driving through the mountains just north of Mountain Home a couple of times a month in search of a new place the river is hiding. I've found grottos, waterfalls, caves and a rare beach or two. It's one of those places you could visit once a month for three years and still find something new each time.
Fly fishing is one of the most popular ways to connect with the river. Anglers spend their time waist deep searching for pocket water, hoping to bag a nice fish. The South Fork has some protected species though. Be sure to read the fish and game signs near designated fishing and camping areas to find out what is and isn't a righteous catch.
Rainbow and bull trout are the most common fish in the river but smallmouth bass and a variety of pan fish can also be snagged. Even the rare salmon or two can be found, but are most common in the Anderson Ranch Reservoir area.
Anderson Ranch Reservoir is located 40 miles from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho in the foothills of the Sawtooth Mountain Range. Like many places in Idaho, the reservoir is catered towards the outdoor-savvy. Boating, water skiing and fishing are popular in the summer. The winter months offer more than 250 miles of groomed snowmobile trails.
The South Fork is dammed at Anderson Ranch but continues to flow down through several canyons.
These canyons offer some of the most picturesque areas I have seen in Idaho. Trees and lush grass line the shores immediately surrounded by walls of rock shooting hundreds of feet up.
But the river's breathtaking features don't end there. The South Fork combines with the North Fork Boise River to create the Arrowrock Reservoir. In many ways, the Arrowrock is similar to Anderson Ranch, but lies much closer to Boise. Just a few minutes of driving can take anyone from bustling downtown to the center of nature.
The South Fork Boise River offers an accessible off-road experience with stunning views, hidden treasures and crystal clear water to play in. If you're looking for somewhere nearby to escape civilization for a while, the South Fork Boise River is definitely worth checking out.
Editor's note: This is the seventh installment of a regular blog highlighting attractions and activities around Idaho. Stay tuned to learn more!
Download the top photo at this link.
Can't see the video? Click to view Flying the South Fork of the Boise River