Gooding, incorporated in 1908, was named after Frank Gooding, Idaho’s sixth state governor.
In the early years, Gooding was called a “City of Destiny”. Settlers were drawn to its location by the rivers and the railroad, as well as its year-round temperate climate. The addition of irrigation brought agriculture and ranching to the harsh high-desert landscape, and the population shot to over 2,000 residents by July of 1909.
Reminiscent of a century ago, people are still drawn to Gooding. What makes old-timers and their descendants stay and newcomers decide to take up residence? It is most likely a combination of the quality of life rural, small-town Idaho provides and location.
Gooding is a hub for residents and visitors alike who wish to take advantage of myriad recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, golfing, rafting, kayaking, skiing and other winter sports.
The city also is within an easy drive of four state parks, Shoshone Indian Ice Caves, Mammoth Caves, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Craters of the Moon National Monument, and world-famous Sun Valley, to name just a few of the many scenic and geological sites.
The seat of Gooding County, is a community of communities. The Idaho State School for the Deaf and the Blind houses students K-12 weekdays throughout the normal school year, and hosts many community events and programs on its vast and beautiful campus. Tours of the historic grounds and buildings are available upon request.
The Basque Cultural Center greets visitors to Gooding in its location at the intersection of State Highways 26 and 46, where Gooding begins. The Basque Association proudly shares the cultural heritage of the people who immigrated to Idaho from the mountainous region along the border of Spain and France during days of revolution in the late 1800’s. Latinos and Hispanics comprise yet another community in and around Gooding, bringing their language and culture to this seemingly plain environment. The community at large celebrates its rich history in many ways. Historic preservation has kept many of the original buildings standing proudly and beautifully both on Main Street and off.
The Historic Gooding Hotel Bed and Breakfast is the oldest building in town and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic Gooding Opera Theater has everyone in town happily buzzing and eagerly participating in the process. Worth the drive and an overnight stay, the theater hosts live entertainment and first-run movies almost every day or night of the week. This building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Other attractions include the Gooding County Historical Society museum, several gift and specialty shops, diverse eateries, a bowling alley, library, and a public golf course and country club.
For recreation and entertainment, residents and visitors alike enjoy several city parks, a go-cart track and a public swimming pool. The Gooding County Fairgrounds is home to year-round events from winter indoor bull riding, to 4-H and FFA programs to horse shows and sales. The annual Gooding County Fair, held each August, hosts a professional rodeo and the Miss Teen Rodeo Idaho competition. For other annual events see the calendar of events in this region.