Swan Falls is one of the most amazing destinations in Idaho. You will discover many opportunities for learning, for fun, for sight-seeing, for bird watching and much more. You will discover how Idaho began to get power, how the mines of Silver City became modern with power.
The first dam located from the Snake River was the Swan Falls Dam. The Dam was constructed in 1900 and 1901 to offer electricity for the mines located in Silver City. Prior to the dam being constructed the only source of power leading to the mine was steam as there was no coal, oil or other resources to draw from. The community of Silver City became mindful of the successes of many hydropower dams all over the United States like Buffalo project, and Niagara Falls. Due to this success, the Trade Dollar Consolidated mining company started to look into a possibility of getting power from the Snake River.
Arthur Foote was the first to assist in locating a proper and sustainable location along the river. Prior to any action took place Foote left the area; however, an engineer from Boise had interest and selected location twenty-eight miles away from the town of Silver City. Once the building of the dam started it continued along quickly. With the flipping of a switch, the small mining town of Silver City went from a mine with no power to a mine with electricity.
The effect of the mine getting power did not take off with the rest of Southern Idaho for quite some time. However, after some time the Boise Valley took advantage of the lines that went from Swan Falls to Boise, Caldwell, and Nampa. Soon followed many power projects along the Snake River that were much bigger than Swan Falls in regards to capacity. In order to sustain the function over the many years, the equipment was restructured and updated along the way. After close to a century of utilization the Swan Falls Museum now replaces the initial power plant. Idaho Power is the owner and to this day operates the newest power plant which offers electricity to Boise Valley.
Swan Falls now offers much to the public. The area is available for Day use and has picnic shelters that are able to be reserved for a fee. It offers garbage service, restroom facilities, fishing docks, and interpretive signs. Whitewater boaters are able to access the river by a boat ramp that is located below the dam. Other activities that are available to do for the outdoor enthusiasts are boating, fishing, geocaching opportunities, mountain biking, rafting, and upland game hunting.
Swan Falls Camping
At Swan Falls you will be able to find five appointed campsites that are located upriver from the dam. In addition is a boat launch that is made of concrete, picnic tables for some of the sites, vaulted toilets, as well as trash receptacle. Downriver you can find 15 assigned campsites that offer trash receptacles, vaulted toilets that are close to the boat launch that is also made of concrete. Every single campsite offers fire rings and easy access roads.
The burning of pallets is not allowed in or around the area of Swan Falls and all that break this will be asked to leave. The camping at Swan Falls camping sites are a first come, first served basis. Stays at the campsites are allowed up to fourteen days in a row. There are campground rules that are posted and that must be followed at all times. In the restroom located in the day use area, you will find water. Water is not found in the campsites themselves.
You can reserve the day use shelters online. There are no taxes on the reservation fee.
Please remember that the day use shelters may be reserved for the days from April’s first Friday to the October’s last Sunday. The reservations may be made 9 months in advance. If further assistance or questions come up you can call 1-844-472-7275. Reservation by phone will have an additional five-dollar charge convenience fee.
Swan Falls museum can be accessed from ten am to four pm each Saturday from April 15th to Labor Day. If you wish to take tours at any other time you may contact the museum by email to arrange the tour but it must be done in advance by at least two weeks.
Guests of the dam have the opportunity to explore including on the dam in order to get to the other side of the Snake River. A gate has been installed that automatically locks at nine pm, therefore any guest who is located on the south side after nine pm will be able to come back across but the gate only opens the one direction after that time.
You will find many eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls at Swan Falls as it is located within the boundaries of Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.
There is a parking lot that is to be used only for parking not to clean out equestrian trailers or for overnight camping for equestrian use.
Swan Falls has many great educational opportunities as it has the opportunity to teach students in the linking of economics, industry, and technology. In areas of the state upon where there were no oil or coal resources, the water power was vital to filling the need for power.
To sum up what Swan Falls has to offer you will find a great deal of activities for all. Activities from taking the boat out, catching those great fish, rafting those white waters, going down those massive mountains on a mountain bike. The falls offers shelter, garbage services, docks and more. Swan Falls offers a lot of history and a lot of fun for all. Enjoy the various activities or just the sight of the falls, no matter your reasoning for visiting the falls you will not regret it.