In the desert of southern Idaho, in the town of Twin Falls, lies a geologic wonder that is worth a detour from nearby Interstate 84. Calling Shoshone Falls the “Niagara of the West” might sound like hyperbole, but the fact is that its 212-foot cascade is actually about 50 feet higher than its more famous New York cousin. In width, Shoshone rivals Niagara’s American and Bridal Veil Falls at about 1,000 feet, while Niagara’s Canadian Horseshoe Falls has a brink of 2,600 feet.
Shoshone Falls was created by the Bonneville Flood, one of many cataclysmic, post-Ice-Age floods that sculpted the landscape of the inland Pacific Northwest some 15,000 years ago. The falls we see today are the waters of the Snake River. The aptly named Snake meanders 1,078 miles from its source in the Rocky Mountains to its confluence with the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State. It is the largest tributary of the Columbia. Both rivers are important sources of hydroelectric power for the Northwest and provide rich and varied recreational opportunities.
Some of the multiple cataracts comprising the 1,000-foot-wide span of Shoshone Falls are named Bridal Veil, Bride’s Train, Bridal Falls, Two Graces, and the Sentinel.
Hiking The Area
Shoshone Falls Park is one of three access points to the Twin Falls trail system, much of which runs along the Snake River Canyon. There are more than 10 miles of developed trails in the local park system, designed for walkers, hikers, and bicyclists. Other access to the trails is available at the north end of Washington St. N. and at the Twin Falls Visitor Center, which is located at the southwest end of the Perrine Bridge.
Other Nearby Attractions
The Perrine Bridge, an impressive feat of engineering, was built in 1976 to replace a 1927 structure. It stretches for 1,500 feet across the Snake River Canyon. Its height of 486 feet above the canyon floor makes it a popular destination for BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) jumpers. If you take Exit 173 from Interstate 84 onto U.S. Highway 93, you will cross the Perrine Bridge as you head south into Twin Falls.
Just downstream from Shoshone Falls is the site of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel’s 1974 attempt to jump the canyon on a specially designed motorcycle. The dirt ramp constructed for the event remains as a monument to that day. It can be seen from the west end of the Centennial Trail.
Other waterfalls in the area include Perrine Falls and Pillar Falls. Perrine Falls, also known as Perrine Coulee Falls, is a narrow, free-flowing fall, 197 feet high. The falls and the bridge are named for I.B. Perrine, founder of Twin Falls. To reach the base of Perrine Falls, turn right (west) on Canyon Springs Road shortly after crossing the Perrine Bridge heading south and follow the meandering road as it curls down into the canyon. Watch for pullouts alongside the road. Pillar Falls can be viewed from the canyon overlook 3,000 feet east of the Perrine Bridge.
Shoshone Falls Park is just over 2 hours southeast of Boise and about 2 hours west of Pocatello. It’s a 3.5-hour drive northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. From Boise and points west, take Interstate 84 east to Exit 173 (U.S. Highway 93). Follow US 93 south about 4.2 miles, then turn left onto Pole Line Rd. Pole Line becomes Eastland Dr. after about a mile; stay on Eastland one more mile, then turn left onto Falls Ave. E. Follow the signs to the park, turning left on N. 3300 after about 2 miles. From Pocatello, Salt Lake City, and other points east, take Interstate 84 west toward Boise. Take Exit 182 (Idaho State Highway 50 S) toward Twin Falls and follow ID 50 as it becomes Kimberly Rd./U.S. Highway 30. About 7 miles after leaving the highway, turn right onto N. 330 E. and follow the signs another 3 miles to the park.
The park is open daily, year-round, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $3 per car. Restrooms are available and a concession stand sells souvenirs and refreshments.
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