The Niagra Of The West - Shoshone Falls
Don’t miss these massive falls of Southern Idaho. They really are the “Niagra of The West”.
At over 212 feet high and 900 feet wide, the lesser known Shoshone Falls is actually higher than Niagra Falls. Appropriately named the Niagra of the West, this massive waterfall should not be missed.
Let’s have a look at how best to visit one of America’s largest waterfalls and a trick to get in for FREE.
Shoshone Falls State Park Information
Shoshone Falls Aerial Footage
Here’s a little drone footage we shot on our most recent trip to Shoshone Falls.
Shoshone Falls Idaho History
The falls mark the historical upper limit of fish migration on the Snake River. This made the falls an important fishing and trading place for Native Americans. Apparently the water used to boil with Salmon back in the day.
Shoshone Falls got its name from the Lemhi Shoshone or Agaidika people that frequented the area for its immense Salmon fishing.
The falls were first documented as early as the 1840’s and despite its remote location, became a tourist attraction by the 1860’s.
With the completion of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, pioneer Charles Walgamott saw a tourist opportunity. In 1884 Walgamott and his wife opened a ferry operation just upstream from the falls.
To the north of the falls they opened up a tent hotel where tourists could stay after making the precarious ferry transfer across the Snake River above the falls.
The ferry, made possible by a guide rope, failed numerous times plunging people over the massive falls. The news of these deaths made national headlines and only fueled the fire of this new tourist attraction. The hotel and ferry operated for several decades.
Shoshone Falls drew national attention again in 1974 when the daredevil Evel Knievel made an unsuccessful attempt to jump this massive canyon. The remnants of his rocket launch site can still be seen today.
Shoshone Falls Today
As the surrounding Magic Valley area grew there was a need for irrigation and electric power. The first hydroelectric plant was built in 1907 and has since grown to what it is today.
In addition to power generation, the water is diverted from above the falls to supply irrigation in the area.
This move was quite controversial as it greatly reduced the amount of water flowing over the falls. As a result, viewing the falls has become a seasonal event as the water is greatly reduced during the summer months.
The ideal time to visit the falls is between April and July with peak flows usually between May and June. The variation in water flow is quite dramatic ranging from an absolute deluge to just a dribble.
But even during the driest times it still makes for a worthwhile visit.
The BEST Way To See The Falls
Our favorite way to see the falls is by an easy 8-mile round trip hike. Here’s how to do it.
Head to Elevation 486 where you can park and hop on the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail. Start walking towards the massive Perrine Bridge and stop at the visitors center on the right just before you get to the bridge.
You’ll start by passing underneath the massive Perrine Bridge where you will likely see base-jumpers huck themselves into the Snake River Canyon. The trail meanders along the canyon rim passing by Evil Knievel’s jump site.
As you near the falls you’ll be rewarded with some great views before arriving at the park itself. And because Shoshone Falls only charges per vehicle there is no charge if arrive on foot.
Once you make it back be sure to grab a bite or a drink and take in the epic views from Elevation 486.
The park has large grassy areas and 11 grills with picnic tables making it an ideal spot for a cookout. There is a concession stand as well as restrooms.
In addition to the overlooks that jet you out over the massive cliff, you’ll find interpretive displays along the cement walkway.
The Snake River Canyon Rim Trail is also accessible in the park and will take you to Evil Knievel’s jump site as well as Dierkes Lake.