May. 25, 2017

123. Cleo's Ferry Museum and Nature Trail

I love sharing adventures and especially when you can share them with children who are just learning to explore. Strolling along Cleo’s Nature Trail in Melba was an exploration in itself. Around every corner there was something new to be discovered. All along the trail are carefully made, intricate, birdhouses. The storyteller in me might have told the munchkins that Fairies lived in those houses….okay…I did! It sure made for an interesting walk! We had a blast trying to figure out what type of Fairy lived in each house.

Around every turn on this amazing trail was a new adventure waiting to be discovered. We uncovered wild animals on safari (life-size fiberglass statues of wild animals), we sat with famous people (bronze statues of Einstein, Mark Twain and many others), we saluted soldiers (more statues) and looked for trolls under a bridge. Beautiful and artsy lawn art is mixed with local flora creating a whimsical atmosphere. Cleo Swayne’s presence is felt all along the path in the many signs quoting inspirational passages. A flock of peacocks followed us around which helped to sell the Fairy stories. (The kids were convinced Fairies were riding the peacocks.) The trail ended at rock houses full to the brim with memorabilia representing the hardships of settlers and natives in Early Idaho. The houses are the remains and reproductions of buildings showing an imagined daily scene at Walter’s Ferry during the time when it was the crossing between Boise Silver City and San Francisco. For Oregon Trail emigrants who had bypassed the Three Island Crossing or Glenn’s Ferry, this was another chance for them to head north towards gold camps in the Owyhees and Boise Basin.

For me, it was a great way to spend an afternoon away from the distraction of technology and explore with the kiddos. Creativity is something you need to feed occasionally. This was the perfect place to take a deep breath and dream.

Location: Wallace, Idaho. Take I-84 W towards Nampa/Caldwell. Take Exit 38/Garrity Boulevard. Turn Left. Turn left at Flamingo Ave (about .2 miles). Then turn right on Happy Valley Road. Stay on Happy Valley Road until you reach Deer Flat Road (about 6 miles). Turn right on Deer Flat Road and go 3 miles until you come to ID-45 S. Turn Left. Take ID-45 for 11.5 miles. Turn left (East) at Dan’s Ferry Service (before crossing the river). Take the dirt road on the right down to parking for the trail. There are plenty of signs.
Address – 2048 Hwy 45 S., Melba.
Phone – 208-495-2507

Hours: Daily 8 am to 8 pm.

Cost: Donation

Eats: There is a covered picnic area that is available for use. You can actually sit there and feed the peacocks while you eat. The view is fantastic and there is a grassy patch for the kids to play on. (Just don’t let them chase the peacocks!) Bring a picnic, or snacks for the trail.

Special Notes: Bring the kids! It’s fun for all ages. The trail is handicap accessible. No pets though! They don’t want them upsetting the peacocks or other wildlife around the trail.
Make sure you pick up after yourself. They don’t have a maintenance crew since they only receive donations, so help them out and keep the place looking good for everyone.

If you need to get away from everything, but don’t have the time or money to go very far, this is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the river, take inspiration from the signs, and don’t forget to look for fairies.

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