Thousand Springs State Park is a state park of Idaho, comprising 5 units in the Hagerman Valley. In 2005 as part of a master planning process, it was decided to combine 4 existing state parks under a single new entity. A fifth unit has since been added. The 3 units we visited are Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve, Malad Gorge, and Ritter Island.
We nearly missed the parking lot for this undeveloped unit. I only happened to notice it in passing....I was too busy looking at the attractive horses in the field across from the parking area.
On a hot afternoon, we walked a very dry, dusty tractor type road, along side another dairy, through a field where rattlesnakes were said to reside, for a mile to reach the box canyon which could not be seen until the moment we stepped up to the guard rails at the edge!
Definition: A box canyon is a small ravine or canyon with steep walls on three sides, allowing access and egress only through the mouth of the canyon. (Or, as is the case here, a narrow cliff-hanging pathway leading down into the canyon......which we DID NOT take. Going down would have been tricky, but do-able. Coming back up would have been excessive for our out-of-shape bodies!)
This 350-acre box canyon has 250-foot-high walls. At its head is the eleventh-largest spring in North America, gushing 180,000 gallons per minute. The spring bubbles up out of the ground at the base of what once was (and may still be after much rainfall) a 250 foot high dry waterfall course. You can see the calcium deposits on the side of the cliff caused by years of spilling water.
The 180,000 gallons of water per minute bubbling out of the ground forms a rushing river which pours into the Snake River at the mouth of the canyon. The spring water is crystal-clear but refraction gives it a bluish cast. Down "river", in the canyon, about one mile from the box end of the canyon spring head, is a 20-foot waterfall. When we walked another mile from the box end overlook to the cliff side path entrance, we could barely see the 20 foot waterfall as it headed over the edge facing away from us. A deck with chairs and tables was situated there among trees which made the waterfall area look like an oasis, though I suspect it would be a noisy one right next to the falls.