Saturday, December 8, 2018

Shoshone Falls - Twin Falls, Idaho


For Americans, Niagara Falls is the ultimate waterfall.  Every waterfall in the country is compared to this icon. "The Niagara of the West" is found in Twin Falls, Idaho. This dramatic waterfall is actually higher than Niagara Falls by 45 feet.

Location: East of Twin Falls, Idaho. The falls are about 5 miles east of Blue Lakes Boulevard in Twin Falls

Cost: $3 per car. Season Passes are $25

Operating Seasons and Hours: Open all year. Fees are charged from March 1st to the end of September.  Peak flow on the waterfall can be seen from April to July.

Official Website: www.tfid.org/index.aspx

Date of Visit: Saturday, May 5, 2018

Shoshone Falls was first stop of the first day of our Idaho Road Trip in May of 2018, but we very well could have camped at City of Rocks National Reserve near Almo the night before, and then driven to Shoshone Falls in the morning.




The thing that has surprised me the most about living in Idaho is how many cool things there are to see and do in the state.  I grew up in Utah only 3 hours away from the Utah/Idaho border, but I never heard anyone talk about going to Idaho for recreation.  I never even went to Idaho until I was 13 and that was only because my grandma had moved there.

When I started planning this road trip I constantly found amazing thing to see and do.  I kept saying, "I never knew that was here!"

Shoshone Falls is probably the landmark that surprised me the most.  I had no idea that Southern Idaho had a waterfall higher than Niagara Falls. I love waterfalls and can never pass up an iconic one, so Shoshone Falls immediately jumped to the top of the list of the things we had to see on our road trip around Idaho.

Shoshone Falls is located on the Snake River which has been dammed extensively to provide reliable water for all the agriculture that depends on the water.  That means that the flow of the waterfall can be shut off from time to time.

The best times to see the waterfall are between the months of April and July. However, during dry years the waterfall may not have a very impressive flow.

We were in luck. Our trip was scheduled for May in a year that had seen massive amounts of snow.  I'd read an article in the local paper a few weeks earlier that said the water at the falls was currently running because of the massive amounts of snow that were melting upstream. I was excited because that meant we'd be able to see the falls in all their glory.

The viewpoints for the falls are in Shoshone Falls Park on the south side of the river. The park is on a slope in the Snake River Canyon. The land around the canyon is flat and honestly, a little boring. As you drive toward Shoshone Falls Park it's difficult to know there is a river canyon nearby. As you get closer to the entrance station you will begin to see the canyon walls. 

The park costs $3 per car to visit between March 1st to the end of September. Three dollars is a great deal for a scenic area like this. The pay station is at the top of the canyon.  Make sure you have cash handy.  
After you pay the entrance fee you'll drive your car down a curvy grade that takes you to Shoshone Falls Park.  I expected there to just be a lookout for the waterfall, but the park is actually quite nice in it's own right.  There are large grassy areas with picnic tables and plenty of shade trees. 
There are probably 75 parking spots in the parking lot. I've heard that it's best to get their early in the day because the parking lot can fill up fast. We were there at 10:00 and there was plenty of parking, but by the time we left around 11:30 there were a lot fewer spots available.

After parking we headed right for the falls' viewpoints - just kidding we really headed right for the bathroom because that's what happens when you travel with 4 kids.  The bathroom is located behind a little gift shop.  The toilets are flushing which is always nice.

After the bathroom we headed to the viewpoints.  The falls were everything I hoped they would be.  The Snake River is a wide river and the falls were a large curtain of white water spanning nearly the whole canyon. The falls are 212 feet high and 900 feet wide.  These are some of the largest falls I've ever seen.

All the viewpoints are on the south side of the Snake River Canyon.  I'm sure there are places along the north side to view the falls, but none of them are official viewpoints. The view down river was also impressive.  We could see a rainbow quite prominently as we looked down river. 
We could see another overlook jutting out from a cliff a little to the west of the main overlooks.  We tried to find that overlook. Getting to there was a little tricky. I thought we could just head west along a path on the edge of the canyon.  But that dead ended after only a little ways.
We had to walk a little to the south and get on a wide paved bike trail called the Centennial Trail.  That trail led to the overlook. 
 
The view from that overlook was impressive as well.  I liked that we were looking at the waterfall from a more head on angle rather than from the side. 

After looking at the falls we went back to the car. I love this picture of the twins walking back along the Centennial trail with their dad.
We had a picnic lunch on one of the tables in the park and then we were on our way to our next stop for the day. 


Recommendation: No matter the season or the water flow you should try to visit Shoshone Falls Park. And if it happens to be between the months of April and July in a high water year you should DEFINITELY visit Shoshone Falls. You won't think about Idaho the same after you've seen this waterfall.

Directions: Shoshone Falls can be seen from Shoshone Falls Park which is east of Twin Falls.  You'll travel east on Falls Avenue and then turn North onto Champlin Ave. Champlin Ave will take you to the entrance station at the edge of the canyon.


Places Nearby: While in Shoshone Falls Park, if you continue following the Centennial trail for 1.8 miles you'll come within view of the the location where Evel Kenivel attempted to jump over the snake river canyon in 1974.  The actual jump location is not open to the public, but you can see the mound of dirt which he used to launch his motorcycle from the canyon edge.

 Next Stop: Perrine Memorial Bridge over the Snake River

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I would love to hear what you think. Did I get it right, or was I dead wrong? What was your experience like?

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