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For the week of July 25 - July 31, 2001


‘Valley of the Thousand Springs’ is a natural rest stop

Express Staff Writer

The Hagerman Valley, known as "The Valley of the Thousand Springs" for its abundance of hot- and cold-water springs, is a rare, natural rest stop that has served travelers for thousands of years.

Fishing in the lower Malad River is popular year-round. A summer angler tries his luck at the mouth of the Malad at the Snake River. Express photo by Willy Cook

It is in this mild valley that the Big Wood River ¾ renamed the Malad River — finishes its 110-mile journey from the mountains and joins the mighty Snake River.

Native Americans once stopped in the valley in spring and fall to fish salmon runs in the Snake, which weaves through the heart of the valley. Some tribes wintered there because of the valley’s mild weather.

Today, the area is an attraction for fishing, whitewater rafting and kayaking, water skiing, bird watching and hiking.

The city of Hagerman, which gives the valley its name, was originally the site of a stagecoach stop along the Oregon Trail. The town was established in 1892 when Stanley Hageman and Jack Hess opened a post office and general store near what is now the town’s center. The city was named for Hageman, but a misspelling in the central post office registry changed the mane to Hagerman.

Many of the "Thousand Springs" gushing from the walls of the north canyon rim are outlets of the Big Lost and Little Lost rivers that sink into the lava fields of the Snake River Plain northeast of Arco.

Today, the valley is the largest producer of commercial trout in the world. It also plays a very important role in hatchery production of salmon and steelhead trout, and other resident fish species.

The mild climate and abundance of year-round open water also make the valley a preferred stop-off for migrating waterfowl. Many congregate at the Niagara Springs, Hagerman and Billingsley Creek wildlife management areas operated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The valley is home to the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, site of the world’s richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene time period — 1.8 million to 5 million years ago.

And, in addition to Malad Gorge State Park, two new state parks are planned for the valley at Box Canyon and Billingsley Creek.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.