Twin Falls, Idaho, is a gateway to Snake River Canyon. This city of about 50,000 residents is situated on a flat plain that is sliced open by the Snake River. As the river meanders through the rocky canyon, it also forms many spectacular waterfalls. There are not just two waterfalls in Twin Falls, as the name might imply, but many within the city limits as well as more within an hour’s drive.
My husband and I recently made our first visit to Twin Falls for a weekend family wedding, but in the few hours of downtime we had, we were able to visit four beautiful waterfalls and a few more attractions you’ll probably enjoy too. Here they are with the waterfalls first and then the additional sights:
This is probably the grand-daddy of all the waterfalls in Twin Falls. In fact, it is the Niagara of the West. It’s also the easiest of the waterfalls in Twin Falls to visit. For only a $5.00 vehicle fee, you can enter Shoshone Falls Park and see a waterfall only a few feet away from the parking lot. And it is magnificent! You can hear the roar of the falling water before you see it. And most likely, you will also see a beautiful rainbow in the midst of the rising mist. Shoshone Falls is actually higher than Niagara Falls by 45 feet (212 ft high) and the water flows over a rim nearly 1000 feet wide!
The flow of the water varies by season, so the best time to see the falls is in the spring, before any water has been diverted for irrigation. However, I was there in August, and it was still pretty amazing with plenty of water plummeting over the edge.
There were also many kayakers at the base of the falls and making their way downriver. I would imagine that is a great way to see the falls up close, especially on a hot day. It would certainly give you a unique perspective of the size and grandeur of the falls.
Perrine-Coulee Falls & Centennial Waterfront Park
I’d read about the Perrine-Coulee Falls and really wanted to see them because apparently you can walk behind them. But when we put the name of the falls into our Google GPS, it just took us to a rim trail above the falls. We could hear the falling water, but couldn’t see anything through the trees. Down below, there was a winding road that looked like it might take you closer to the base of the falls. Still stumped by how to get there, I decided to navigate to the golf course or park we could see in the canyon near the river. Surely, if we could get there, we might be able to look back towards the cliff walls and figure out where the Perrine-Coulee Falls were.
So that’s what we did. The park was called Centennial Waterfront Park, and as it turned out, that is also worth exploring. Enjoy dock fishing and kayaking or paddle-boarding in the river here. Picnic facilities are nice, and we even saw a zipline. A playground provides diversion for the young ones. There is a rocky crag right next to the river you can hike up and have 180-degree views of the river and the Perrine Memorial Bridge:
And yes, if you look back towards the canyon walls, you cannot miss the Perrine-Coulee Falls! But here’s how to find the waterfall faster and be able to walk behind it. When you navigate to the Centennial Waterfront Park, you’ll drive down into the canyon on Canyon Springs Road. When you come to the very first hairpin turn, you’ll see four or five parking spots right there along the side of the road. Grab one of those, and follow the sound of the waterfall on a trail that will lead you straight to it just a few yards away.
The sound of the water crashing on the rocks is loud, and of course, mesmerizing to watch.
It is easy to walk behind the falls also. It feels like you’re in a watery amphitheater, looking out at the river valley below. Very cool! Even our grandchildren loved this.
Be sure to wear good walking shoes if you go behind the falls. The water spray can make things slippery. Between the water dripping from the walls and the water spray, you are likely to get a little wet, so protect your camera or belongings with something waterproof.
These waterfalls gave the city of Twin Falls its name. It was once two side-by-side waterfalls, both plunging 200 feet to the canyon floor below. Today, it is only one waterfall, because one of the falls was sacrificed for hydroelectricity. A dam has completely stopped the flow of one of the “twin” waterfalls. It’s still worth a visit, though, and it’s easy to view from the Twin Falls Power Plant. I mean, you kind of have to see the city’s namesake, right?
Cauldron Linn Falls (also known as Star Falls)
I have to admit I was drawn to the tragic history of these falls more than anything else. Seeing them in August was probably not as impressive as at other times of the year, but again, they are definitely worth the visit. This site is near the Oregon Trail and here the Snake River is forced through a passage less than 40 feet wide. As a result, the falls can be one of the most spectacular and intimidating waterfalls in Idaho, even though they are not as high.
In 1811, the Wilson Price Hunt party, using information from the Lewis and Clark expedition, attempted to cross here. Unfortunately, the water was so turbulent, they lost one man and two canoes. Scottish members of the party named the falls ‘Cauldron Linn’.
When we visited, Cauldron Linn was a much mellower version of itself. The water level was relatively low and the falls did not appear to be as dangerous as they must have been in 1811. We were quite fascinated with the rock shapes along the river bed, formed by great turbulent force. Erosion has created some wild shapes!
Here’s what the falls looked like in August:
The tricky part was finding the falls in the first place. We learned that they are actually just past Murtaugh in Hazelton, ID (outside of Twin Falls). If you put this address in your GPS, you will see a sign directing you to the falls: 1998 E 1475 S, Hazelton, ID 83335
You will eventually be on a dirt road that takes you to a dirt parking lot on a bluff above the river canyon. The road continues down into the valley with warning signs for vehicles that are not 4-wheel drive. I recommend that you park above and walk down. Even though you can see a calm river at this point, you cannot see the falls yet.
When you see this sign, head to the right and follow the sound of the falls to find them:
If you’re taking children with you, beware! There are no guardrails, and this area is untamed and wild. Wear good protective shoes, and use sunscreen as you’re completely exposed to the sun. Take a water bottle with you as well.
Twin Falls Visitor Center
We didn’t actually get to visit the Twin Falls Visitor Center while in Twin Falls. But we did park in its parking lot and enjoy the Canyon Rim Trail just steps away. If you have more time than we did, I highly suggest you make time to see the Visitor Center as well, as it has interactive exhibits, videos, brochures and maps, green space with picnic tables, a statue of I.B. Perrine, and unique Idaho gifts for sale.
The Canyon Rim Trail offers some of the most incredible views and overlooks of the Snake River Canyon, the Perrine Memorial Bridge, and even the Evel Knievel dirt ramp used in his famous 1974 canyon jump attempt. We arrived in time to catch a spectacular sunset.
Perrine Memorial Bridge
There’s another reason you might enjoy visiting the Perrine Memorial Bridge with its 500-foot drop. It is a popular site for BASE jumping, the recreational sport of jumping from fixed objects, using a parachute. (BASE is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects: building, antenna, span, and earth). While we were there, we had the opportunity to watch a few BASE jumpers. They walked up onto the pedestrian walkway to the center of the bridge, stepped over the bridge guardrail onto a tiny ledge…and then just jumped!
Don’t worry! I wouldn’t have posted these photos if anything had gone awry. This is not something you’d probably want to watch someone you love doing. But I couldn’t take my eyes away. I was horrified by watching them jump, but once the parachute is opened, you can understand why floating in the sky (even if only for a few seconds) must be exhilarating.
It looked as though this jumper was going straight into the river, but looks are deceiving. He safely made it to his target on land.
Are there more waterfalls in Twin Falls?
Yes, there are more. We couldn’t possibly make it to all of them in between wedding activities, but perhaps you will have more free time to explore.
- Pillar Falls is located between Perrine Memorial Bridge and Shoshone Falls and is best reached by kayaking, although you can also view the falls from above on the Canyon Rim Trail. The set-in location for kayaking is Centennial Waterfront Park, where you can rent kayaks during summer months.
- You can access both Auger Falls and Mermaid Falls from Auger Falls Heritage Park.
- Outside of Twin Falls there are even more waterfalls. Thousand Springs Scenic Byway is a touring road that will take you to many waterfalls and natural hot springs, some that you can see from the road. The Byway is less than 70 miles in length but you could spend an entire day exploring this area.
I trust you will enjoy your exploration of all the waterfalls in Twin Falls and the beautiful Snake River Canyon. If you’ve already been to Twin Falls, I’d love to hear your comments on your favorite sites.
And if you love waterfalls, you might also enjoy Montmorency Falls: Quebec City Must-See!