Idaho’s Hidden Gem: Paddling through Blue Heart Springs’ Tropical Paradise

Blue Heart Springs

Blue Heart Springs

Ready to embark on a trip like no other, as we reveal Idaho’s stunning secret, Blue Heart Springs. Nestled only 30 minutes away from Twin Falls, near the charming town of Hagerman, this aquatic treasure will leave you in wonder. Picture pristine, Caribbean-blue waters, forming a heart-shaped oasis that defies the ordinary landscape of Twin Falls. It’s a sight so surreal that you might doubt its reality, just as I did when I first stumbled upon it.

But here’s the twist – Blue Heart Springs is not a creation of Photoshop wizardry; it’s real, it’s vibrant, and it’s right here in Idaho. I was originally a skeptic, too, but my curiosity led me to take a solo kayaking trip to see this wonder with my own eyes. And the moment I set my eye upon those brilliant blue waters, I was rendered speechless.

Delighted You should be! In this complete guide, I’ll spill the details you require to plan your kayak adventure to Blue Heart Springs. You won’t have to accept my word for it; you’ll experience it yourself. Ready to be enchanted by this hidden gem, a slice of Caribbean paradise in the heart of Idaho.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Idaho's Hidden Gem - Blue Heart Springs

Blue Heart Spring is nestled in southern Idaho along the Snake River, just west of Twin Falls and a quick 20-minute drive from Buhl or Hagerman. Banbury Adventures is conveniently situated at Banbury Hot Springs, a mere 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from Blue Heart Spring. Blue Heart Springs, a heart-shaped cove off the Snake River, boasts sapphire-blue waters. It’s a freshwater spring, perfect for safe and enjoyable water activities. Blue Heart Spring offers the kayaking dream: tranquil waters so clear you can see the riverbed. The journey from Banbury Hot Spring covers 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) on the calm river current, while Ritter Island offers a longer but still manageable 6-8 hour adventure. Rent kayaking gear with comfort from Banbury Adventures to explore the Snake River’s magic along the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway.

Location and Accessibility

  • Location: 30 minutes from Twin Falls (Near Hagerman)
  • Total cost: $30 per person for kayak rentals
  • Total time: 2 to 3 hours (about 1:30 to 2 hr kayaking and 1 hr to hang out at the springs)
  • Kayak Distance- 3 miles (rounded travels)

Blue Heart Springs, Idaho’s hidden gem, boasts a heart-shaped lagoon with stunning crystal-clear blue waters, evoking the feeling of a Caribbean paradise just a short drive from Twin Falls. Accessible only by boat, the most popular route is a tranquil kayaking trip from Banbury Hot Springs, taking about 2 hours roundtrip. Motorized boats can also reach this slice of paradise via the Snake River from Banbury Hot Springs or Ritter Island. A must-visit hidden treasure in Idaho!

Kayaking Adventure to Blue Heart Springs

Explore the hidden gems of Idaho, a state with a unique charm and diverse experiences. From relaxing in the soothing Lava Hot Springs to stepping back in time at Custer Ghost Town, there’s something for everyone.

1. Lava Hot Springs

Blue Heart Springs
Immerse yourself in the natural hot springs of Lava Hot Springs, where the Oregon Trail once crossed. Enjoy pools with different temperatures and thrilling slides.

2. Custer Ghost Town

Travel back in time at Custer Ghost Town, a historic mining town that offers a glimpse into the past with restored buildings and knowledgeable docents.

3. Yellowstone Bear World

Encounter wildlife in their natural habitat at Yellowstone Bear World, where you can see grizzly bears, wolves, and adorable bear cubs up close.

4. Downtown Boise

Experience the vibrant city life in Boise, the capital of Idaho, offering a mix of outdoor adventures and bustling nightlife.

5. Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Delve into the unique history of Idaho by visiting the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, a former prison with intriguing exhibits and well-preserved cell blocks.

6. Sacajawea Historic Byway

Discover Native American history along the Sacajawea Historic Byway, a scenic drive with stunning views, and a visit to the Sacajawea Interpretive Center.

7. Silverwood Theme Park

For a dose of excitement, head to Silverwood Theme Park near Coeur d’Alene, featuring thrilling rides, roller coasters, and a water park.

8. Museum of Clean

Uncover the importance of cleanliness at the Museum of Clean, a unique museum with interactive exhibits and insights into clean living.

9. Lake Coeur d'Alene

Enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Coeur d’Alene, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts with beautiful beaches and scenic trails along the North Idaho Centennial Trail.

10. Big Idaho Potato Hotel

Embrace the potato culture of Idaho with a stay at the Big Idaho Potato Hotel, a one-of-a-kind experience just outside Boise.
Experience the unexpected and make Idaho your next destination, where adventure and history await!

Highlights and Lowlights


  • Stunning tropical blue lagoon
  • Easy kayak trip from Banbury Hot Springs
  • Ideal spot for a summer day getaway


  • Crowded, particularly on weekends
  • Potentially challenging due to heavy winds
  • No kayak rentals available on Sundays

How to Get to Blue Heart Springs

You can reach Blue Heart Springs by boat, with Banbury Hot Springs being the most popular starting point. Alternatively, you can embark on a longer trip from Ritter Island.

From Banbury Hot Springs

At Banbury Hot Springs near Hagerman, Idaho, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards for various durations: 2 hours (single kayak – $15, tandem kayak – $25), 4 hours (single kayak – $25, tandem kayak – $40), or 8 hours (single kayak – $35, tandem kayak – $55). They also charge a $10 boat launch fee. Banbury Adventures, the onsite rental service, operates from Monday through Saturday but is closed on Sundays. You can also bring your kayaks and use the boat launch at Banbury, but keep in mind the $10 launch fee. The journey from Banbury Hot Springs to Blue Heart Springs is approximately 1.5 miles and takes 30 to 45 minutes downstream. The return trip takes a bit longer, around 45 minutes to an hour, as you’ll be paddling against the current. To ensure availability, it’s advisable to make reservations online in advance for kayak rentals or plan your kayak launch adventure.

From Ritter Island

For those seeking a more extensive kayaking adventure, Blue Heart Springs can also be reached from Ritter Island, which is part of the 1000 Springs State Park. This route offers a longer kayaking experience compared to the one from Banbury Hot Springs.

You have a couple of options from Ritter Island: a round-trip kayak journey starting and ending at Ritter Island covering approximately 7 miles, or a one-way trip where you start at Ritter Island and finish at Banbury Hot Springs, covering approximately 5 miles. The latter option is ideal if you have access to two vehicles. If you’re up for a challenge, you can kayak upstream from Banbury to Ritter Island, but be prepared for a more strenuous paddle.

Ritter Island boasts breathtaking scenery with numerous waterfalls and remarkably clear waters, making it a highly recommended route for those with the time and energy to enjoy it.

From Kayaking to Blue Heart Springs​

Once you have your kayak, start your journey by heading left from the dock at Banbury Hot Springs. Your route to Blue Heart Springs will take you downriver, promising a relaxed and leisurely paddle. As you navigate this segment of the Snake River, you’ll be treated to the mesmerizing dark blue waters, and on tranquil mornings, the reflections on the still water create a captivating scene. Along the way, you’ll pass by a few small islands and the entrance to Box Canyon Springs, another fascinating unit of the 1000 Springs State Park. While you can’t access Box Canyon from the Snake River, it’s worth a visit after your kayaking adventure.

Can You Hike to Blue Heart Springs?​

Unfortunately, hiking to Blue Heart Springs is not an option. This serene oasis is nestled between the Snake River on one side and a rugged canyon wall on the other, making it accessible exclusively by water.

Map of Blue Heart Springs

Here’s a map showing the positions of the launch sites at Banbury Hot Springs and Ritter Island, along with the location of Blue Heart Springs.

Difficulty of Kayaking to Blue Heart Springs

Kayaking to Blue Heart Springs from Banbury Hot Springs is a relatively easy and comfortable half-day trip, covering a mild 3-mile round trip paddle along the Snake River. However, embarking from Ritter Island is a longer journey, more than twice the distance, and adds some extra challenge, but it’s still manageable within a day. Keep in mind that Snake River conditions can change with the seasons and recent weather, so it’s crucial to check current flow rates and ensure safe conditions. Additionally, heavy winds may pose challenges, so always check the weather forecast before planning your trip.

Ideal Time to Visit

The excellent time for kayaking to Blue Heart Springs is from Spring through Fall, aligning with Banbury Adventures’ kayak rental season, which operates from April to October. The winter season may not be ideal for rentals as it can be quite chilly on the water. Keep in mind that Banbury Hot Springs is closed on Sundays, limiting rental and launch options. Consider kayaking from Ritter Island on Sundays to enjoy Blue Heart Springs with fewer crowds.

Where to Rent Kayaks

When it comes to renting kayaks for your journey to Blue Heart Springs, you have a few options:

  1. Banbury Adventures: This is the most convenient choice, especially if you plan to start your trip from Blue Heart Springs. They offer kayak rentals right on-site, handling all the logistics of putting in and taking out the kayaks for you.
  2. Adventure Bros: Started by two brothers who turned their kayak rental venture into a full-time business, Adventure Bros provides a slightly more informal but highly helpful service. You can contact them through text. They offer the flexibility of picking up the kayaks yourself or having them delivered to Banbury Hot Springs for an additional fee.

Blue Heart Springs Packing List

For a smooth kayaking trip to Blue Heart Springs, here’s a packing list you should consider:

  • Dry Bag: To keep your valuables dry and safe.
  • Bathing Suit: Essential for taking a dip in those inviting blue waters.
  • Water Sandals or Shoes: Protect your feet while exploring.
  • Snacks, Lunch, and Extra Water: Stay energized throughout your adventure.
  • Compact Towel: Handy for drying off or lounging by the springs.
  • Life Jacket and Paddles (if using your kayaks): Safety first!
  • Camera and/or GoPro: Capture the stunning moments along the way.

Exploring Blue Heart Springs

Exploring Blue Heart Springs is an entertaining experience as you approach it from Banbury Hot Springs. It’s conveniently nestled on the right side of the Snake River, just before a sharp turn, and surprisingly, it only takes about 30 minutes to reach it on a peaceful morning. You might even paddle right by it initially, as I did, underestimating how close it was.

To access Blue Heart Springs, you’ll be guided through a narrow passageway, and as you reach, you’ll be greeted by the stunning beauty of its vibrant colors. Take your time to paddle around and fully engage yourself in this natural wonder. When you’re ready to disembark, find a suitable spot along the shoreline. Keep in mind that it can be a bit tricky due to the reality of huge boulders and deep water. You may also find small grassy areas on the left and right sides that offer easy options for getting out.

Adjacent to Blue Heart Springs, you’ll find an impressive pile of boulders lining the canyon. These boulders provide an excellent option to climb up and enjoy an elevated view of the spring. From this vantage point, the crystal-clear water appears even more mesmerizing and stunning.

For safety reasons, if you plan to explore the boulders, it’s advisable to wear shoes with suitable traction. See a spacious boulder to relax on and enjoy your time in this breathtaking location.

Returning to Banbury Hot Springs

On the return trip from Blue Heart Springs to Banbury Hot Springs, keep in mind that you’ll be paddling against the current, so the journey will naturally take a bit longer. It took me approximately 45 minutes to make the return trip, but the duration can vary depending on factors like wind conditions and the rate of river flow. Be prepared for a leisurely paddle back to your starting point.

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