Buhl, Idaho: Small Town, Big Dreams
Called “the Trout Capital of the World,” this city has retained its close-knit community feel and its proximity to hiking, fishing and skiing is hard to beat.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2013 issue of Community magazine. Content has been edited for accuracy.
Some 20 miles northwest of Twin Falls, cars driving on Idaho’s Scenic Highway 30 slow to pass through the small city of Buhl. Surrounded by farm country, canyons and historic places, this laid-back location has a classic, small-town America feel but is conveniently located near many recreational offerings.
“There are opportunities galore for kids and families here,” says Mayor Tom McCauley. “We are minutes away from hiking and biking and fishing, and within an hour or two of the best hunting, skiing and fishing in the world.”
Although the city is close to major amenities, it’s retained its close-knit community feel without the “hustle and bustle of the big city and the challenges that come along with it,” he says.
Buhl's Best Bets
When you pull into Buhl from U.S. Route 30, stop by Jackson’s Kountry Korner, at 1101 Broadway Ave. N., where neighbors meet for breakfast and argue about politics while eating scrambled eggs and ham. For lunch or dinner, head to La Plaza Mexican, at 1206 Main St., for delicious homemade tamales.
And no matter when you visit, a stop at Cloverleaf Creamery is essential. At 205 Broadway Ave. S., this all-natural dairy sells what fans claim is the best ice cream you’ll ever taste. It’s made fresh, on-site, with only the best ingredients. Try a scoop of the famous Cowboy Crunch ice cream.
When you walk down the street, expect to be greeted with a smile and see neighbors exchanging pleasantries everywhere you go. In warmer months, the city’s parks, the swimming pool, and the athletic facilities are where you’ll find most locals. The nearby 18-hole Clear Lake Country Club is a popular draw for golfing and fly-fishing.
And if you’ve never been fishing, a trip to Buhl may be just the nudge you need to give it a try. The city is dubbed the “Trout Capital of the World,” and boasts numerous hatcheries that produce most of the rainbow trout consumed in the country. In fact, one of the city’s major employers is Clear Springs Foods, which is the world’s largest producer of rainbow trout. A massive rainbow trout sculpture on the side of the Buhl’s West End Senior Center pays homage to the city’s fish-y heritage.
Out and About
If you like to hike and explore, make the short drive to Balanced Rock State Park to see a 48-foot tall, 40-ton rock balance atop a pedestal rock that’s a little more than three feet tall. Or, head 30 minutes north of the city to Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, where more than 3,000 new fossil fragments are found each year.
A popular time to visit Buhl is around the Fourth of July, when the city hosts its Sagebrush Days. “Our population swells from around 4,000 to 20,000 or 25,000,” McCauley says. With a small carnival, fish feed, trout scramble, fire hose competitions and more, the annual event is on many area families’ summer fun lists.
A nearby event in late September is the Thousand Springs Festival of the Arts. This celebration of nature is hosted on beautiful Ritter Island, in the heart of the Thousand Springs State Park. The event features arts and crafts, food, live music, antique dairy barn tours, free horse and wagon rides, and more.
Because of its amenities and its not-too-close, not-too-far-away location, Buhl is an excellent place to raise a family or grow a business, McCauley says. There are only three major industries in town, but all have an international footprint.
“We are looking to grow some,” McCauley says. “We are fully in compliance with all of the new environmental laws and have capacity to spare for industry and businesses.”
Families, individuals and companies looking to put down roots would do well to consider Buhl, the mayor says. “It’s an affordable place to live, even compared to nearby communities. We are an older town, so we have an older look to us, but Buhl is filled with friendly people. I’m really proud to be here and be a part of things.”