What to do in Three Island Crossing State Park

*Note: All information presented is non-seasonal, as per the wishes of the State of Idaho.

Oregon Trail pioneers knew this spot well. It was one of the most famous river crossings on the historic trail.

The trail played a significant role in the exploration and settlement of western America. The original course of the Oregon Trail was from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Most pioneers traveled the trail from 1841 through 1848. However, fur trappers and explorers used the travel corridor as early as 1811. By the mid-1860s, the trail was used little as an emigration route.

The Oregon Trail entered Idaho in the southeast corner of the state. At Fort Hall, it joined the Snake River, following the south bank until this crossing was reached near Glenns Ferry. The route left Idaho near the site of old Fort Boise, near Parma, after winding through 500 miles of the state.

Upon reaching the Three Island ford, the emigrants had a difficult decision to make. Should they risk the dangerous crossing of the Snake, or endure the dry, rocky route along the south bank of the river? About half of the emigrants chose to attempt the crossing by using the gravel bars that extended across the river. Not all were successful; many casualties are recounted in pioneer diaries. The rewards of a successful crossing were a shorter route, more potable water and better feed for the stock.

The Three Island ford was used by pioneer travelers until 1869, when Gus Glenn constructed a ferry about two miles upstream.

The Glenns Ferry community sponsors a crossing reenactment the second Saturday of each August. Events often include living history presentations and a historic skills fair. Contact the park for details of this year's event.

Modern travelers will find a stay at Three Island Crossing much more hospitable than did the pioneers. Located just off Interstate 84 at the Glenns Ferry exit, the park offers a full-service campground, cabins, picnic areas, historical interpretive programs and a fascinating admission-free interpretive center. You can take the self-guided tour, see the replica wagons and dangle your feet in the Snake River where emigrants made their historic crossings.

I-84 Glenns Ferry Exit

The climate in Idaho varies with the elevation. The bottom of Hell's Canyon, Boise and other locations at low elevations receive hot summer weather. Temperatures at these elevations often reach 90 degrees or more during the summer months. At the same time the mountains will get mild temperatures with cool nights. Winters are just as extreme with the mountains experiencing extreme conditions and temperatures. An average of 500 inches of snow falls on the Idaho highlands. Temperatures are known to dip below zero degrees F on many winter nights. The lower elevations enjoy a more mild winter season with less precipitation than the mountains. The sun is a constant throughout the year. Be sure to wear sunscreen and layered clothing in Idaho's unpredictable weather.

P.O. Box 609
Glenns Ferry, ID 83623

Phone: 208-366-2394

Fax: 208-366-7913

Email: thr@idpr.state.id.us
  • Three Island Crossing State Park Travel Q&A