Oldest hydroelectric generating dam on the Snake River!
Swan Falls is located along the Snake River about 20 miles south of Kuna, Idaho and is another great daytrip in the Treasure Valley. There are outstanding canyon views and good smallmouth bass fishing along the riverbank. Bird watching is also amazing in this area within the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA). You may see owls, osprey, eagles, hawks and falcons!
Swan Falls is also part of the Western Heritage Historic Byway, which includes Celebration Park, Swan Falls Dam, Snake River Canyon Overlook, Dedication Point, Initial Point, Silver Trail, Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Pioneer Cemetary, and Historic Kuna.
Swan Falls Dam is about 40 miles south of Boise on the Snake River. The dam was built in 1901 to provide electricity to mines in the Owyhee Mountains and is the oldest hydroelectric generating dam on the Snake River. The old plant became a museum when Idaho Power built a new power plant in the mid-1990s.
The Owyhee Avalanche newspaper reported news to Silver City and surrounding areas about the construction of the Swam Falls Dam, and on April 5, 1901, informed residents when electricity was first being brought to the area:
"Poor old useless, treacherous Snake River which has glided for ages between its frowning walls of lava. . . Man’s ingenuity! A dam is thrown across a useless stream, dynamoes are revolved by the weight of imprisoned water, a line of poles and wires is run over the hills and through the canyons thirty miles to the mines, touch a button and the river does the rest. Such is the story. Wonderful, isn’t it?"
On April 10, 1901, the Owyhee Avalanche reported that:
"Trade Dollar superintendent Joseph H. Hutchinson dedicated the big electric motor at the Blaine mill. He shouted, "Electricity! May she be a success! Here’s luck, boys!” About that time, thirty miles away, Miss Nellie Hutchinson set the generating plant in motion. Mrs. Joseph Hutchinson threw the mill motor switch, and within three minutes the mill was in full operation."
The museum is open to the public, from 10AM to 4PM on Saturdays between April 15 and Labor Day. Tours outside those times may be arranged by contacting Idaho Power at least one week in advance.
Also, check out the interpretive signs in the adjacent park that outline the geologic and cultural history of the area.
Pedestrian access across the dam is open during daylight hours.
The dam and the area around it:
Reservable picnic shelter
To reserve the shelter or find more information about the park, visit Idaho Power's Swan Falls Park.
No overnight camping. For overnight camping, there are free camping areas both above and below the dam.
Motorized craft are allowed between Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park, with a launch site below the dam. Non-motorized boats and rafts can also be launched from the launch site. There are two Class II rapids for rafters, with the river slowing between Celebration Park and Walter's Ferry. No commercial shuttle services are available.
Drive west on I-84. From I-84 take exit 44 for ID-69 toward Meridian-Kuna. Continue on ID-69 S/S Meridian Road and then in Kuna from East Avalon Street, turn left onto South Swan Falls Road.
LATITUDE/LONGITUDE: 43.243500717736644, -116.37910180195003 (the dam)
STARTING POINT: Boise
DISTANCE FROM STARTING POINT: Approximately 38 miles (one way from Boise)
TIME TO REACH: Approximately 50 minutes (one way)
ROAD SURFACE: Paved
WHEN ACCESSIBLE: Year-round, 24/7
FEES: Free for day-use park; to reserve the shelter (fee required) visit Idaho Power's Swan Falls Park.
RECOMMENDED VEHICLES: Any vehicle
PET FRIENDLY: Yes, but on leash
WHEN WE WENT: Early fall
TRAILHEADS: Hiking trails are throughout the area.
CAMPGROUNDS: Day-use only
SITE CONTACT INFO:
Swan Falls Park is managed by Idaho Power.
I'm Here - Now What?
Tours: self-guided tour of the Swan Falls Museum
Wildlife and plant viewing
Fishing - for fishing regulations, please see https.//idfg.idaho.gov.
Equestrian parking area is available below the dam. Please do not clean horse trailers in the parking area or anywhere in the Swan Falls recreation corridor. Visit the Treasure Valley Back Country Horsemen’s website for more information.