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Visit Shoshone Falls and Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho

A longtime camper, Dan has experience with tents, pop-up trailers, camp trailers, and motorhomes. He has also done repairs on all of these.

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These are two of the attractions of Twin Falls, Idaho. Just South of Interstate 84 and only 100 miles away from Boise, they are well worth a brief stop to a traveler passing through. Both are very impressive and the falls have a beauty and majesty seldom seen elsewhere.

Perrine Bridge is found at the entrance to Twin Falls where it crosses the Snake River Canyon, while Shoshone Falls is the Snake River, falling vertically in a huge horseshoe-shaped waterfall. Both owe their existence, in part, to the great Bonneville flood in the last ice age 15,000 years ago, which scoured the snake river plain and created the conditions for this beautiful waterfall and the canyon that the bridge crosses.

Shoshone Falls: The Niagara of the West

At 212 feet high, Shoshone Falls is higher than Niagara Falls and is some 900 feet wide. Much of the water that would have gone over the falls now goes through the power generation plant at the base of the falls, but in spring and early summer there is still a massive amount of water flowing.

As spring runoff from melting snow naturally decreases and an ever-increasing amount of water is diverted for irrigation purposes, the falls lose much of its majesty, so try to plan your visit for April or May. By July or August, most of the width is nothing but bare dry rock and the enormous cascade has slowed to a trickle.

Just above the falls itself is a beautiful park area, maintained by the city of Twin Falls. Several historical markers are placed there, as are several picnic tables. In addition, an overlook has been constructed projecting out over the canyon and makes an excellent vantage point to view the falls from.

Perrine Bridge: A Base Jumper's Paradise

The present bridge was built in 1976, replacing an older bridge just west of where it is currently located. The cost at the time was $10,565,000, and at 1500 feet long it is the longest span bridge in the west. Just at the south end of the bridge is a small park like area with a visitors center. The center offers great views of the bridge as well as the golf courses below. It is built on the rim of the canyon with little but a stone wall to keep a visitor from stepping out over 400 feet of emptiness.

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At 486 feet above the river below it is an ideal spot for base jumping and the the city of Twin Falls allows this activity periodically. Base jumpers were leaving the bridge on the day of our visit, although I did not manage to get any photos of them drifting to the canyon floor far below.

Much of the canyon was carved by the same Bonneville flood that created Shoshone Falls. At about the mid point of the north canyon wall, near the lower bridge support, can be seen a thin layer of dirt; this was the canyon floor before the flood. Everything below that point, whether solid rock, soil or gravel, was scoured out by the flood in just a few weeks. The water would have put the bridge under several feet of water and spread far out over the north side of the canyon.

The flood waters that abraded the topsoil from the area north of the river returned to the canyon about a mile south of the Perrine bridge, where the resultant eddy created the perfect spot for I.B. Perrine to create the region's first farm over 125 years ago as well as a great location for the three trout farms and two golf courses that exist there today. The rocky land on the north side of the river, towards the freeway, is still bare of topsoil to this day.

The Bonneville Flood

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Where was Lake Bonneville?
    • Utah
    • Colorado
    • Montana
  2. How much water flowed through the Snake River in the flood?
    • 10 cubic miles
    • 380 cubic miles
    • 570 cubic miles
  3. Has the topsoil scoured from the land by the flood returned?
    • yes
    • no
  4. When did the flood occur?
    • 5,000 years ago
    • 10,000 years ago
    • 15,000 years ago
  5. How large was Lake Bonneville?
    • 5,000 square miles
    • 10,000 square miles
    • 15,000 square miles
    • 20,000 square miles

Answer Key

  1. Utah
  2. 380 cubic miles
  3. no
  4. 15,000 years ago
  5. 20,000 square miles

How to Get There

Exit interstate 84 on highway 93 towards Twin Falls, crossing the Perrine Bridge as you do so. Turn left (east) on Falls Avenue for about 3 miles and turn left again (north) on N 3300 E for another 2 miles. Both turns are well marked with signs.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is there a better time of year to visit Shoshone / twin falls than another?

Answer: Yes. Spring, when the water flows are the highest as the snow melts in the mountains, is far better. Later in the year, the flow will be reduced to half or less and it isn't nearly so spectacular. It varies of course, but in general April or May is the best time of year to visit.

© 2012 Dan Harmon

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