Educational Travel: Three Island Crossing State Park, Idaho

Back to school doesn’t have to mean only back to the books! Explore educational travel with pit stops to historic sites! Case in point: when traveling through Idaho on I-84, families may think there’s not much in the way of a pit stop past Boise. About one hour east of the Boise/Nampa area, it’s well worth a stop at Three Island Crossing State Park. Located in the town of Glenns Ferry, Three Island Crossing is the site of the Snake River crossing of the Oregon Trail. Hundreds of wagon trains crossed here where three small islands in the river allowed pioneers to sidestep the swift current (with mixed success).

three island crossing state park


The state park offers RV and tent camping, cabin stays, and an excellent interpretive center. With few motels in the area, we opted to spend a night in a Three Island Crossing cabin, which was a great pick for a casual camping experience. The cabins are located right on the Snake River in the day use area of the park (don’t follow signs to the campground). A handful of cabins dot a long lawn overlooking the river, and come equipped with electricity, heaters/air conditioners, and bunk beds for up to five. Outside, families get a covered patio with porch swing, BBQ, fire pit, and picnic table. Bathrooms are within walking distance (with showers), but these were temporarily closed during our visit. Instead, pot-a-potties were on site. Fresh water from faucets is easy to access.

snake river

The interpretive center is located between the day use and cabin area and the upper campground, and includes interactive exhibits on the Oregon Trail and the Three Island Crossing. Emphasis is placed on the intersection of not only the river and trail, but of the Euro-Americans and Native Americans at the crossing. There are thorough exhibits on the Native population in the area as well. Among our kids’ favorite displays: a packing list for the Oregon Trail, the life-sized covered wagon, and an actual Oregon and California Trail guidebook written by Langford Hastings, guide on the ill-fated Donner Party.

three island crossing state park

Date last visited:

June 2013

Distance from the Interstate:

Right off I-84.


Day use fee applies for those visiting the interpretive center (center is free). Cabins were $45/night at time of our visit.

Operating hours:

Park: sunrise to sunset Center: 9 am to 4 pm


From I-84, follow signs to 1083 Three Island Park Drive in Glenns Ferry.