Lincoln County is a paradise for explorers. In one weekend, you can descend into deep and unusual caves and see some of Southern Idaho’s most stunning historic architecture. We’ve put together some of Lincoln County’s greatest hits, but there are so many more places just begging to be explored!
See Some of America’s Most Unusual Homes.
Lincoln County has many lava rock homes, a rarity in the United States. The builders of these historic homes used the material that was most abundant. Native lava rocks that formed from flows thousands of years ago — to create snug, thick walls. The rocks can’t be shaped, so talented masons had to freehand each wall. It’s a lost art, and some of America’s greatest examples of it are scattered throughout the town of Shoshone.
The Mammoth Cave, eight miles north of Shoshone on Highway 75, is the largest volcanic cave in the world that is open to the public. In fact, it’s so large that the U.S. government tapped it for use as a civil defense shelter during the Cold War. Head inside and you can see remnants of previous generations that explored the cave and used it for shelter. Names of settlers are carved on the wall, and ancient bones have been discovered inside.
The Shoshone Ice Caves, located at 1561 N. Highway 75, is another geological marvel: A lava tube filled with ice, even in the heat of summer. When the tube formed thousands of years ago it trapped and froze water, creating an icy cave that was so full of the cold stuff that figure skating pioneer Sonja Henie skated there once. Now an Idaho attraction with a small museum. You can listen to an experienced tour guide tell you about the area’s volcanic landscape as you descend into the chilly cave.
This Canyon Is Magic.
The Big Wood River carved Black Magic Canyon north of Shoshone over thousands of years. It left twisting, almost supernatural lava rock sculptures behind. It’s not easy to get to Black Magic Canyon, and it’s not for the faint of heart. You’ll need sturdy walking shoes capable of scrambling over smooth basalt, which can be slippery.
You’ll also need to check the Big Wood Canal Company’s website www.bwccafrd2.com. They control the flow of water through the canyon. Water created the canyon, and irrigation water still floods its narrow passage most of the year. Starting in late summer, however, the canyon begins to dry as the need for irrigation water slows. It become accessible in August or later and remains so throughout the winter, though test flows may be released as early as February. If you explore Black Magic Canyon without checking ahead of time you may find yourself trapped in a fatal flash flood.
Ice Cream As Far As the Eye Can See.
The Shoshone Snack Bar is a mom-and-pop business that serves up “mile-high” soft-serve ice cream cones. But you don’t have to wait until summer to indulge! This restaurant, located at 415 S. Greenwood St., is open every day except Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
For more information on Lincoln County, call the Lincoln County Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce at 208-886-7641.