About Gooding County
Gooding County lies in the great Snake River Basin of Southern Idaho, with the Snake River on its south and southeastern boundaries and the Mount Bennett Hills along its northern boundary. Other than those hills and the steep dropoff into the Snake River gorge, the county is generally flat. Near the center of the county, there is a large hill, called Gooding Butte which rises gradually to a summit a few hundred feet above the surrounding terrain. Like most of the Snake River Basin, lava flows underlie most of the area, exposed in some areas in dark, ragged outcroppings of rock. The Wood River flows from the east into Gooding County, then turns south and is joined by the Little Wood River. From there the river is called the Malad River and it drops into a deep gorge before joining the Snake River.
Originally all of Gooding County was a desert, but irrigation from the Snake and Wood Rivers have transformed large areas into productive farmland.
Gooding is named after Frank R. Gooding, the 7th Governor of Idaho. It was created on January 28, 1913, taken from Lincoln County, which lies to the east. It covers just 734 square miles and had a population of 14,155 people in the year 2000. Gooding is the county seat.
Gooding, Bliss and Wendell all sit on the plain above the Snake River gorge. Hagerman lies in a wider part of the gorge, being Hagerman Valley. The plain averages about 3,500 feet in elevation, while the Snake River gorge is below 3,000 feet. The Mount Bennett Hills reach above 6,000 feet at places within the county.
Interstate 84 enters the county near the southeast corner, and travels diagonally to exit the county near the midpoint of the western boundary. U.S. Highway 30 departs from the freeway near the western boundary and heads south through the Snake River gorge and leaves the county when it crosses the river. U.S. Highway 26 departs the freeway at Bliss (also near the western boundary), and heads eastward past Gooding and into Lincoln County. State Highway starts at Wendell and travels north through Gooding and into Camas County, to the north.