The feeling of being suspended in water, the cool liquid completely surrounding you and keeping your entire body chilled while the sun beats down upon your from above, is a feeling that is unparalleled when compared to most other feelings. To just dip into water feels so nice, even on a day that is not so hot. Swimming is one of the best ways on the planet to relax and have some fun. Coincidentally, Idaho is one of the best places on the planet for swimming or wading in the refreshing water. It is a state that does not have the same oceans and lakes as other parts of the country and other parts of the world, but it certainly has rivers to spare and rivers can make for some excellent wading and swimming. Most of the water in Idaho is untouched by human hands and pollution. There are certainly places that have seen a human touch and can have litter or pollution but there are a far greater number of places that have nice, clean and clear water instead. Whatever the case, here is an introduction to the delightful swimming and wading you may consider in Idaho.
As with many things that involve the wilds of Idaho, you want to make sure you are enjoying Idaho responsibly. There are certain parts of Idaho rivers and lakes that are not exactly safe for a swimmer or anyone for that matter to enter. When it comes to rivers specifically, there are a number of dangers that you want to watch out for. Some rivers have a lot of different levels of current. One part of the river might be ideally calm and gentle but then not even a mile downstream it becomes a raging torrent of water that you cannot fight against. There are also quite a few dams that have been put up along the rivers in Idaho. Most dams have some kind of warning set up to prevent swimmers and boaters from getting too close but it can be easy to ignore these warnings or not see them if you are not paying attention. In addition, there are all kinds of things going on in and around dams that happen beneath the surface of the water and are therefore dangerous and hard to identify. Idahoans also love them some white water rafting. They could not participate in this sport if there were no dangerous rapids to navigate. When you are not prepared with the right equipment and mindset, rapids pose a great risk. So, be mindful of where you are treading water and avoid parts of the river that pose a risk above or below the water, and most especially those that have posted warnings.
But sometimes, swimming on its own is not what you are looking for. There are times of the year where the weather is just too cold and there is nothing in the world that would get you into that water. However, where there are rivers there are also hot springs in most of those rivers. For those times when winter sets in (And it is going to set in hard some years), Idaho’s hot springs are ready and waiting to heat you up and get some of that cold off of you. If all you want to do is relax and soak in a giant pool of warm water, there are a number of places you can go. First of all, there are hot springs everywhere that are just warm spots with very little development. Some of the best hot springs in the state are the most remote and amount to only a circle of rocks in a river that keep the different temperatures of water separate. If some of the rocks collapse, a lot of cold water rushes into the spring and a lot of hot water rushes out. Then there are places like Lava Hot Springs and Burgdorf that are a little more built up. These places are essentially resorts where hotels and condos have been put in around the springs and the water is much more reliably hot. These places can be a bit touristy but they can still be fun and relaxing.
Of course, when swimming or wading gets boring for you and you are not searching for simple relaxation, you do not have to stop having fun with Idaho’s waters. There are a hundred other activities you can do in Idaho’s rivers and lakes to enjoy yourself and relax. I have already mentioned white water rafting as a major activity for Idahoans but that can be a little harder to get into and is not the kind of activity that you can easily enjoy every weekend. Maybe you want to avoid getting wet entirely. Fishing is also incredibly popular in Idaho. Many people picture fishing as sitting on the shore of a large lake and casting a line into the great stillness of the water, but fishing around a river can be a lot more interesting and successful than lake fishing. Just make sure your Idaho State fishing license is current and prepare for a little bit of disappointment if you do not have much fishing experience. It might be a bit before you actually catch anything.