For being a region of the state that often gets overshadowed by the splendor of the rugged wilderness of central Idaho and the impressive lake resort of Coeur d'Alene in the northern panhandle, there is no shortage of incredible places to seek refuge from the desert heat in the southern part of the Gem State. The community of Hagerman boasts one of the prettiest parks in the state, and one that reminds me of my time in Hawaii with its walking trails surrounded by flowers and greenery, waterfalls, and natural springs.

I remember the first time I drove from Twin Falls to Hagerman to check out Thousand Springs State Park. It wasn't the easiest to find my first time out. Shortly after passing through the community of Wendell, you need to pay close attention for the turnoff that takes you out to the park, and GPS and smartphones are little help in the area.

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After driving down a gravel road for what seemed to take an eternity, we drove into the park's entrance and eventually found parking at the bottom of the road, which features a massive lawn and picnic area, visitor's center, and the small but beautiful area known as Ritter Island. The island has a few homes on it, and hosts an annual art event that draws a good amount of southern Idahoans.

The kayaking is some of the best around. The trails lined with vegetation take visitors past stunning waterfalls, and the underground springs bubble down the rocky canyon walls making for fantastic photo opportunities; it's like a tiny, Hawaiian island just 40 minutes northwest of Twin Falls, and it's one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon in all of southern Idaho.

Just make sure to get there early if you plan on picnicking and kayaking on the weekend, as the parking often can't accommodate the number of visitors.

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Thousand Spring Park in Hagerman; Greg Jannetta
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Thousand Springs Park in Hagerman; Greg Jannetta
Thousand Springs Park in Hagerman; Greg Jannetta

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