Destination: Malad Gorge
HAGERMAN, Idaho (KLIX) – If you’re looking for a quick getaway, somewhere worthy of pointing a camera lens, you might consider Malad Gorge.
Malad Gorge, located off Interstate 84 at the Tuttle exit near Hagerman, is a 451-acre unit of Thousand Springs State Park and named after the river that winds its way through the area. A narrow pedestrian bridge crosses the canyon, allowing visitors to see the main attraction of the site – water falling into a churning pool called the Devil’s Washbowl. Named appropriately, if Satan had laundry to wash this whirling pool might very well be the place he’d do it.
Historically, the river received its name from a band of French fur trappers who came through the area in the 1800s. After using the river for sustenance the men became ill, prompting them to name it Riviere Aux Malad, or “Sickly River.”
It was later determined the men had become sick not from the water itself but from eating beaver that had digested poisonous roots in the area. Later, it is said that outlaws would hide from lawmen in the canyon’s rocks and crevices.
The river is formed by the Big Wood and Little Wood rivers near Gooding and is about 12 miles long. It empties into the Snake River about 2.5 miles downriver of the gorge.
The gorge today is as eye-catching as it must have looked to the area’s early fur trappers and wanderers, only now has the modern amenities such as picnic tables and walking paths.
Wildflowers give color to the otherwise earth-tone landscape, and you may see birds of prey soar in the expansive blue above – two other reasons to bring a camera.
There’s a small courtesy charge to enter the park, but if you’ve never been here before it’s worth a stop, if only briefly. Here’s a map for a self-guided tour.