Centennial Marsh: One of Spring’s Most Beautiful Sights
The camas superbloom is upon us, and one of the best places to experience it is at Centennial Marsh in Camas County. The county takes its names from the blue vistas of camas lilies that cover the valley floor every year — and for thousands of years, these same plants sustained Native Americans living in the area. At Centennial Marsh, you can experience the superbloom while viewing the thousands of birds that call this protected area home.
Head out to the marsh. The Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area is one of the most stunning early-summer sights in Idaho. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Ducks Unlimited, and the Nature Conservancy bought this 3,100-acre parcel of wetlands in 1987. Located near the town of Fairfield, the marsh fills at the beginning of the year and is usually dry by mid-July — so don’t delay when planning your trip!
Go to the birds. In late May through mid-June, this swampy area is adorned with colorful flower blooms and thousands of birds and their tiny offspring, including ruddy ducks, northern pintails, American wigeons, mallards, gadwalls, lesser scaup, canvasbacks, and blue-winged, green-winged, and cinnamon teals. Access roads allow you to get up close to the birds, and the scenic backdrop is a favorite of photographers and birders alike. Check out this site from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for a full list of birds you can see there.
See fields of blue. The Shoshone-Bannock and Paiute people used camas as a food source, roasting the bulbs and drying and saving them for later use. In fact, these lilies were so important that Camas County is one of many places in the Northwest named for these flowers. Blooms are at their peak in late May and early June.
Explore historic Fairfield. One of the best times to visit Fairfield is during the annual Camas Lily Days and Sho-Ban Homecoming, which takes place the first weekend in June. You’ll find activities for kids, live music, and a camas lily ceremony by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe at City Park. The Sho-Ban have their own, private ceremony to honor this sacred place and food source.
Fairfield is the only town in Camas County, and you can explore this charming place any time of year. In the early summer, you can hike on one of the 400 miles of trails that stretch from Fairfield to the Sawtooths.