by Lonni Leavitt-Barker, photos by Jim Peterson
A makeover is a makeover. Whether you are a woman or a much beloved water slide, sometimes you need a little freshening up. And after 33 years, the old slide at Eagle Island State Park finally got a new skin and a new coat of paint. “The waterslide has recently received a facelift! It has been rejuvenated and recoated to bring back the color, speed and quality,” said Gary Shelley, the park manager at Eagle Island.
In fact, the whole park has had some work done to prepare for the busy summer months. First, the entrance; the old one on Hatchery and Linder is now closed. Everyone is to come through the new State street entry. The disc golf course has been expanded from 9 to 18 holes and will be open year round for all those disc fanatics. And if you haven’t heard, there is a zip line tour that will give you a view and a thrill of Eagle Island like you’ve never experienced. There are several options, but for $79, you will get a three-hour, multi zip line experience that will have you 80 feet up in the air and going up to 40 miles per hour. This new feature is definitely not for the faint of heart. (All tours have to be booked online at zipboise.com).
Jennifer Okerlund is the Communications Manager for Idaho Parks and Recreation. Since she grew up in Eagle, she admits to having a soft spot for Eagle Island. “You can drive ten minutes down the road to Eagle Island and be in a different world. This place has the potential to be the Valley’s central park. I’m excited to see what this park will become when it grows up.”
And when you realize the park is 560 acres and more than 400 of those acres have not been touched, you too can see the potential. “We have a master plan for down the road to provide overnight camping, to build more nature trails, a nature center and an amphitheater in the park,” said Okerlund.
With the lake, the slide, and paddle boards for rent, there are all kinds of spontaneous activities to do this summer. Or bring your appetite and head over for the annual Blues and Bones festival on August 20th. If you are a Blues fan and a BBQ aficionado, you will have found your corner of heaven.
Don’t forget there is a five dollar per car entry fee at all state parks. But that shouldn’t scare you away, especially if you have children. Okerlund says they have teamed up with the libraries in Idaho to offer kids and their families a free pass to all Idaho state parks if they reach their summer reading goal.
If you have a 4th grader, there’s also the “Every Kid in a Park” program. To celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, all fourth graders and their families get into all federal parks for free. “We decided that our Idaho state parks would honor that program as well,” said Okerlund.
There will be no excuses for sitting at home during the summer months. The City of Eagle has also been very busy sprucing up a few of their parks and putting together a line-up of activities that should appeal to just about everyone, from new playground equipment at Friendship Park to an extensive, professionally designed bicycle Skills Park at the Ada-Eagle Sports Park. There is also a new Adaptive Trail at the Sports Park off of Old Horseshoe Bend Road. It is ten feet wide and compatible with all the requirements for the American Disabilities Act.
The City of Eagle is also offering a host of recreational programs for all ages.
Starting in July and August they have courses on everything from Computer Animation and Video Game programming and Junior Public Speaking (TED Talk style), to art classes and a Circus Camp.
And let’s not forget all the activities coming up.
- Eagle Fun Days
Family Fun Night (games, bounce houses, food and guest celebrities) July 8th
Wet & Wild Parade (Fun Run, Car Show and Parade) July 9th
- Gazebo Concert Series
July—Andrew Sheppard and Curtis Sutton & the Scavengers
August—Smooth Avenue and Afrosonics
- Eagle Saturday Market
Every Saturday morning through October 15th’s Harvest Festival
- Yappy Hour
September 23rd—Have a brew and bring your four legged best friend to relax at Merrill Park