Twin Falls was a waterfall that was so named because it used to have two side-by-side plunges at a split in the Snake River. Of course, when we saw it in April 2013, there was only one of the two waterfalls that was allowed to flow as the other one had been sacrificed for hydroelectricity. We weren’t sure if the name of the city just west of here got its name from this waterfall, but we were quite certain that the hydro facility here contributed much to the city’s power needs.
Like Shoshone Falls, what was striking to us about the twin waterfall that was allowed to flow was that it was set in an open canyon backed by attractive buttes in a setting that seemed to remind us more of the scenery in Canyonlands National Park than in the Pacific Northwest.
The waterfall was said to be a geologic legacy of the ancient Lake Bonneville (the predecessor to the current Great Salt Lake). The gorge was said to be carved out by the ancient lake, and then the resulting Snake River was said to drain upstream lakes in much the same way that Niagara Falls would drain the Great Lakes between USA and Canada.
As for the second waterfall, we could see from the infrastructure that it wouldn’t have a chance of flowing unless there was a flood here that was so massive that it would somehow overwhelm the diversion infrastructure. The first power plant that robbed one of the twin waterfalls was built in 1935.
Our viewing experience was pretty much limited to a crescent shaped walkway. The block protruding fences were quite high so photo taking of the gorge was a little awkward. Our views of the falls was pretty much limited since this crescent walkway was all that we were allowed to roam around to see the falls as well as the attractive canyon further downstream.
Apparently, this waterfall would only flow based on a schedule dictated by the Idaho Power Company, who were the owners and managers of the immediate area and the facility itself. A sign there said that the falls would flow everyday from April 1 – August 31, and only on holiday weekends between September 1 through March 31.
We visited Twin Falls shortly after visiting Shoshone Falls since they were separated by about 3 miles.
From the Blue Lakes Road (Hwy 93) running through the heart of the city of Twin Falls, turn left at the traffic light for Falls Avenue. Then, follow this road for about 5 miles (note the 3300E Road turnoff for Shoshone Falls is 3 miles east of the Falls Ave / Blue Lakes Rd intersection) to the 3500E Road.
Turn left onto 3500E Road (which becomes Twin Falls Grade Road) and follow this road to the waterfall overlook and hydro facility. The viewing area is near a picnic area before the gate labeled “Idaho Power.”
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.
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