Shoshone Falls

Snake River Canyon / Magic Valley, Idaho, USA

About Shoshone Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2013-04-24
Date last visited: 2013-04-24

Waterfall Latitude: 42.59557
Waterfall Longitude: -114.40119

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Shoshone Falls was a waterfall that Julie and I anticipated seeing immensely.

We were intrigued by the promise of its size and volume, especially since it was given the nickname the “Niagara of the West.”

Shoshone_Falls_032_20130424 - Shoshone Falls and double rainbow
Shoshone Falls and double rainbow

Indeed, when we managed to see it on an unseasonably warm Spring day in April 2013, we saw rainbows arcing across the flowing part of the falls.

We even saw some kayakers on the large plunge pool at the base of the falls giving us a sense of the size of the waterfall itself!

Shoshone Falls and Regulation

Unfortunately, during our visit, Shoshone Falls seemed to have lost much of its luster given hydroelectric developments immediately upstream of it.

Much of the water in the Snake River drainage had been diverted to support the agricultural industry while much of the remainder of the water was diverted to generate power.

All that remained of the Snake River that managed to escape diversion resulted in the waterfall itself.

Shoshone_Falls_117_20130424 - Looking towards the buildings adjacent to the Snake River harnessing Shoshone Falls as seen from the entrance kiosk
Looking towards the buildings adjacent to the Snake River harnessing Shoshone Falls as seen from the entrance kiosk

Even though we came during the peak period of the snow melt, the gauge indicator at the entrance kiosk ($3 vehicle entree fee during our visit) said the water level was “low”.

Thus, the photos you see on this page merely reflected that low waterflow in mid-Spring.

We weren’t sure if this was typical for this time of year, but it left us with the impression that it could have been so much more than what we saw.

If anything, it had all the makings of a waterfall that ought to belong on our Top 10 Best USA Waterfalls List.

Historical photos of the waterfall from the interpretive signs suggested that it would have been horseshoe-shaped.

Shoshone_Falls_057_20130424 - Contextual view of Shoshone Falls revealing a good deal of hydroelectric artifacts around the waterfall
Contextual view of Shoshone Falls revealing a good deal of hydroelectric artifacts around the waterfall

However, during our visit, it seemed like the far right side of the horseshoe was only trickling though most of the left side of the falls had satisfactory flow.

In fact, from the furthest overlook, I was able to see that the rock wall itself had a bit of a horseshoe shape corroborating this notion that the falls once possessed that signature shape characteristic of powerful high-volume waterfalls.

I’d imagine that as the season progressed towards late Spring and Summer, the flow would be even lower or go dry.

So despite the Snake River being a major river system, the window to see Shoshone Falls was still limited to the March and April months.

Obviously, this depends on the snowpack in the Rockies and how quickly the snow would melt given the warmup during the Spring months so it could be shorter or longer than this two-month window.

Experiencing Shoshone Falls

Shoshone_Falls_003_20130424 - Context of Julie standing on one of the many lookouts for Shoshone Falls
Context of Julie standing on one of the many lookouts for Shoshone Falls

Regardless of its shortened flow window, Shoshone Falls turned out to be a very easy waterfall to see.

From the large parking area (see directions below), we went down a short flight of steps and onto a fair-sized viewing platform protruding out from the immediate cliff face.

This was by far the most common way to experience the falls, especially as we noticed the steady of stream of people coming to this spot to get their photos.

There were more views further downstream from the primary viewpoint along a mostly paved walkway.

Shoshone_Falls_033_20130424 - A pair of kayakers approaching the base of Shoshone Falls beneath a pair of rainbows
A pair of kayakers approaching the base of Shoshone Falls beneath a pair of rainbows

These other views provided slightly different viewing angles, and we found them to be appealing mostly because most visitors didn’t bother going beyond the immediate viewpoint nearby the parking lot.

The paved walkway continued to go further away from the Shoshone Falls until it ended near a fence erected to prevent access to some stairs leading down into the gorge.

It appeared that erosion might have done in this access as it seemed like the stairs led to a sudden dropoff within the mostly concealed gorge below.

I wasn’t sure where these steps led to nor why they were there.

Experiencing Shoshone Falls – The Centennial Trail

Shoshone_Falls_098_20130424 - Looking at the full width of Shoshone Falls
Looking at the full width of Shoshone Falls

Perhaps the one view that yielded a truly different contextual perspective of Shoshone Falls was the furthest overlook that I was able to access.

However, this was only accessed from a paved walking path (a sign indicated it was named the “Centennial Trail”) that started from some steps rising above the souvenir shop in the main parking area.

From there, I found the paved walking path that seemed to roughly follow the path of the Snake River Canyon.

I noticed a few locals engaging in jogging on this paved walkway.

Shoshone_Falls_093_20130424 - The so-called Centennial Trail that took us to more distant lookouts for the Shoshone Falls
The so-called Centennial Trail that took us to more distant lookouts for the Shoshone Falls

Thus, I would imagine that this trail was mostly used by the local residents who would visit the falls or at least use the path as part of their exercise routine (possibly from the nearby town of Twin Falls).

After roughly a quarter-mile, a spur path led to that last protruding viewing platform where I could get a direct look at Shoshone Falls itself backed by the butte nearest the parking lot.

It was only from this vantage point that both the width of the falls and the horseshoe-shape characteristic would be most apparent.

It was interesting to note that I had come across a sign closer to the parking lot indicating that Evil Knievel made an unsuccessful attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon with this viewing spot being one of the end points of his jump.

Shoshone_Falls_113_20130424 - The hook-up with the Centennial Trail began by going up these steps, which led to the paved trail
The hook-up with the Centennial Trail began by going up these steps, which led to the paved trail

So given that, I tended to think of this most distant view of Shoshone Falls as the “Evil Knievel Overlook.”

Overall, we spent about 1 hour and 15 minutes to take in all the overlooks.

However, I could imagine if the initial overlook was enough, a visit here could take no longer than 5 or 10 minutes.

Authorities

Shoshone Falls resides near Twin Falls, Idaho. It is administered by the city of Twin Falls. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Shoshone_Falls_004_20130424 - Looking down the Snake River from the steps leading down to the first lookout of the Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_007_20130424 - Looking across the main section of Shoshone Falls, which produced enough mist to yield a rainbow
Shoshone_Falls_014_20130424 - Closer look at Shoshone Falls from just above the main viewing area
Shoshone_Falls_021_20130424 - Contextual look at Shoshone Falls with double rainbow from just above the main viewing area
Shoshone_Falls_026_20130424 - Looking downstream from Shoshone Falls at the canyon being carved out by the Snake River
Shoshone_Falls_028_20130424 - Partial look at a cascade further downstream of Shoshone Falls that I believe might be sourced by Dierkes Lake
Shoshone_Falls_036_20130424 - Closer look at Shoshone Falls with double rainbow and a kayaker on the Snake River for scale
Shoshone_Falls_040_20130424 - Looking a little higher towards some of the more upper drops of Shoshone Falls as seen from the main viewing area
Shoshone_Falls_042_20130424 - Direct look at perhaps the thickest part of Shoshone Falls with the hydroelectric infrastructure right above it
Shoshone_Falls_043_20130424 - Looking at a plaque commemorating the people who have donated their land for park use at Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_045_20130424 - Broad look at the context of the main lookout on the left with part of the Shoshone Falls on the right
Shoshone_Falls_065_20130424 - I couldn't tell if this arch was natural or some artifact of human activity, but if it is a natural arch, that would certainly be an interesting perk in visiting Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_071_20130424 - The paved walkway linked some of the other overlooks just downstream from the main overlook of Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_086_20130424 - Looking down at some stairs that seemingly went right into the gorge, but access to it was fenced off. I don't know what these steps were for though
Shoshone_Falls_087_20130424 - Context of the cliffs looking further downstream of the mysterious stairs and lookouts for Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_089_20130424 - Contextual look at one of the alternate overlooks nearest to the parking lot for Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_091_20130424 - Some kind of plaque commemorating the directors or board members who were credited with making the Centennial Trail at Shoshone Falls happen. I noticed this sign when I started on the paved quarter-mile walk to the Evil Knievel Overlook
Shoshone_Falls_092_20130424 - On the trail leading to the Centennial Trail at Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_094_20130424 - The Evil Knievel Overlook of the Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_099_20130424 - Focused in on just the Shoshone Falls from the Evil Knievel Overlook
Shoshone_Falls_107_20130424 - Another contextual look at the Evil Knievel Overlook with the canyon just downstream of the Shoshone Falls
Shoshone_Falls_109_20130424 - Partial view of Shoshone Falls as I headed back to the parking lot

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With Twin Falls being the nearest city to the Shoshone Falls, we’ll describe the driving directions from there.

From the Blue Lakes Road (Hwy 93) running through the heart of the town of Twin Falls, turn left at the traffic light for Falls Avenue.

Then follow this road for about 3 miles to the 3300E Road (there should be signs pointing the way to Shoshone Falls as well).

Shoshone_Falls_111_20130424 - Context of the parking lot for the Shoshone Falls
Context of the parking lot for the Shoshone Falls

Turn left onto 3300E Road and follow this road to the parking lot, which is at the end of the road after a noticeable descent into the canyon.

During the descent there is an entrance kiosk with water level sign.

That was where we paid the $3 vehicle entrance fee (as of April 2013).

For some context, the town of Twin Falls was 128 miles (2 hours drive) east of Boise, 159 miles (2.5-3.5 hours drive) west of Idaho Falls, or 218 miles (over 3 hours drive) northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Left to right sweep starting with some side waterfall before panning over to the main falls with rainbow then ending at a butte


Slow and deliberate left to right sweep from the Evil Knievel jump site overlook

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Tagged with: snake river, twin falls, idaho, boise, magic valley, waterfall, hydroelectric, regulated, centennial trail



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Shoshone Falls Valentines Day 2015 October 21, 2015 6:37 pm by Louis Ruth - Valentines Day of 2105 Shoshone Falls had 32,000 feet per sec running for a spectacular water showing. The falls were fierce as the water spray. Waiting for a nice clean shot with less water spray was hard to do. These two show show the falls close up. A circular polarizer was used to control the… ...Read More
Shoshone Falls June 23, 2009 7:21 pm by _Anonymous10 - Shoshone Falls on the Snake River near Twin Falls, Idaho is truly spectacular during the mid-April to mid-May high season. The river plunges 212 feet to the base and spans a 900 foot rim. ...Read More

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