I'd say it's a tie in southern Idaho.  I love my day trips to Malad Gorge and Ritter Island.

Due to my unusual work schedule, I can often visit these places during off-peak hours.  Both are relatively close to home. One mid-morning last summer I hiked to the falls at Ritter Island and sat in the grove atop the picnic table and just listened to and watched the water.  If you lived next door you wouldn’t have any blood pressure issues.  It instantly soothes and the water at the bottom of the falls is crystal clear.

Malad Gorge is a Big Package in a Small Park

At Malad Gorge, you get a variety of topography in a small area.  Sagebrush and a walking bridge over the canyon will provide a look directly into the Devil’s Washbowl.

At the other end of the park, you can stare ahead and into the Hagerman Valley.  In the middle of the park, you’ll find the picnic grounds.  Here the grass is green and there are trees and if you were magically dropped in you would never know you’re surrounded by high desert.  You’re in a pocket, surrounded by stands of trees.

The Annual Park Pass is a Bargain

I buy the state park pass every year when I register my car.  Sometimes it comes in handy, even when you aren’t planning a park visit.  Last year when we launched our FM talk station, I took an afternoon drive up the Interstate to monitor the signal and get an idea of how far it would reach.  I passed Wendell and suddenly nature started calling me.  I exited into Malad Gorge, got waved past the gate, and headed for the picnic grounds.  Where there are very clean restrooms.  Except they were closed!

There were portable units but those were tipped over, apparently for cleaning reasons.

Getting back in the car and with eyeballs floating, I made a decision.  Wendell or Bliss?  I thought I could reach the latter sooner and drove to the exit and stopped at Love’s.  Whew!!!

I could still hear 96.1 FM in the parking lot.

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

LET'S GO: The most popular historic sites in America


More From 98.3 The Snake