Once again, it was a spur of the moment decision: I found myself driving 500 miles east to the great state of Idaho. It was a drive filled with both raindrops and snowflakes, but dang was it worth it.
After a long day of driving and a night of socialization, it was time to get out and explore a bit. The desert is kind of a foreign place, especially after living in the rain-forest and the fact that more than half of the day before was spent driving the unknown in the dark. This wonderland was MUCH more beautiful then I gave it credit for in my imagination.
The first place we stopped was the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. The facility was established in 1909 and is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the system. The purpose of their nearly 11,000 acre range is to protect many wildlife habitats that are important to many species of migratory birds and other mammals found in and around the area.
There are quite a few trails that you can use to walk around the visitor center. If you take the one that goes out and to the back of the visitor’s center, the path leads you to a bird blind in which you can open a multitude of doors to observe all kinds of native birds just hanging out in the brush. Don’t bother bringing your bird manual, they have pictures of all the native birds posted inside the blind for you viewing pleasure (and makes it super easy to identify what birds you are looking at).
There is an old dam and a boat launch located even further down the little trail, and you can see it from the bird blind. The information concerning the building of this reservoir is quite interesting. Especially seeing as the lake is there unnaturally. Nealy 40 miles of trench was dug out in the early 1900’s to transport water from the Boise River, to create the lake, which was then dammed at this end of the lake. Definitely take a walk down the dam, the views of Lake Lowell are gorgeous, along with views of the mountains in the Boise National Forest if you get lucky and get a clear day.
The visitor’s center is very interactive and interesting. Inside, there is tons of information concerning the kinds of wildlife in the area, along with many specimens that you can look at and touch. They have all kinds of feathers, antlers, sound displays, and taxidermy. They even have things for the younger kids; coloring books, stuffed animals that imitate the kinds of calls real birds do, and videos about the wildlife present, and how the facility is helping with the conversation of a multitude of native wild animals.
After a good visit at the reserve, it was time for another destination, especially because we only had a few short days to explore this beautiful place.
Our next destination (after a coffee stop of course) was the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. From I-84 you can access this 485,000 acre wildlife reserve via Swan Falls road. If you want a more detailed map, click on the link above and it shows you exactly how to get to the area.
Since we didn’t have a lot of time before sunset, we parked at a dirt turnoff, and set out into the desert to see what treasures we could find. I think we did pretty well.
After enjoying the beautiful sunset, it was time to go home, and on to the next adventure.
Thanks for reading,