I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to expect from Idaho’s cities, especially the smaller Twin Falls community. I was able to road trip through this stunningly scenic state, and while I spent more time in Boise, I found Twin Falls in the south central part of the state to be charming, distinctive, and worth a visit.
Visit Idaho’s tagline is “Idaho. Beyond Words,” and the whole state certainly lives up to that expectation with its diverse landscapes, impossibly big scenery, unique natural areas, and soaring mountains filled with plunging valleys. Twin Falls itself boasts of its own scenic wonders. It’s just a 2-hour drive east from Boise and is a city that will surprise and delight you.
“What makes Twin Falls stand out is the stunning almost 500-foot-tall canyon that cuts through the north side of town, where the Perrine Bridge spans the Snake River Canyon,” said Sarah Rohrbach of Visit Southern Idaho. “Twin Falls has incredible locally owned businesses, especially the bustling downtown Twin Falls area.”
In the short time I was able to explore this charming, nature-filled city, these are the exciting things I found in scenic Twin Falls, Idaho.
1. Waterfalls Of Wonder
Idaho is a land of waterfalls and hot springs and little Twin Falls has an abundance of these majestic natural wonders.
Niagara Falls Of The West
Twin Falls is home to a set of waterfalls that is actually higher than the northeast’s Niagara Falls. I was stunned to learn that fact, but I believed it after witnessing the majesty of Shoshone Falls. After driving through rambling agricultural land, we navigated our Wandervan down a snaking drive to see the 212-foot-high and whopping 900-foot-wide falls.
Gazing at the roaring walls of water isn’t the only reason to visit Shoshone Falls Park. The falls area also has an easy-to-reach scenic overlook, lots of hiking trails, quaint and shaded picnic areas, and plenty of opportunities for boating and water-based recreation.
Pro Tip: Spring is the best time to view the falls as sometimes they go dry as the water is pulled for irrigation in summer and fall. Admission to the park is $5 per car from March 30 through September.
Perrine Coulee Waterfall
One of the prettiest waterfalls in the Twin Falls area is the Perrine Coulee Falls. The falls are 200 feet high, and although stronger in the summer, they flow all year long. This gorgeous waterfall can be explored from its base, where you can actually walk behind the free-falling water. The Canyon Crest walking path on the canyon rim at the park is another way to get picture-perfect views at two overlooks of the falls and the Snake River Canyon.
Pro Tip: If you choose to take the trail behind the falls, be aware that it can be a bit rocky and you may get wet. But, it’s an easy walk that’s suitable for all ages.
2. Hike Across The Canyon
While at the park, check out the Perrine Bridge, a 1,500-foot-long pedestrian walkway that crosses over the Snake River Canyon. If you are lucky, you might even see some brave base jumpers taking the plunge off the bridge.
Auger Falls Heritage Park
A couple of the easiest waterfalls to see, Auger Falls and the little Mermaid Falls, can be accessed at Auger Falls Heritage Park, a 680-acre natural area owned by Twin Falls. The park features a 4-mile loop that boasts wonderful views of the canyon and waterfalls, but it also has bike trails, hiking trails, and great views of the canyon itself.
Other Waterfalls To See
We weren’t able to see all the waterfalls in this charming southern Idaho town, but if you have a few days, other falls to check out include Minnie Miller Falls and Lemon Falls, both on Ritter Island at Thousands Springs State Park. Fall Creek Falls in nearby Swan Valley is also picturesque and impressive.
3. Thousand Springs State Park
Once you see Thousand Springs State Park, you’ll know why this area is nicknamed “Magic Valley.” Made up of seven distinct parks, this natural area has plenty of hiking, water recreation opportunities, an impressive thundering waterfall, historic Ritter Island, one of the largest box canyon springs in the U.S., and the Kelton Trail — which was a major route on the Oregon Trail.
Crystal Springs is especially pretty. Several small waterfalls erupt directly from the canyon walls to trickle into the lake waters. You can even see these pretty falls from Highway 30.
Pro Tip: This is a great place to camp if you are in an RV thanks to new, updated RV camping spots and a brand-new visitor center.
2nd South Market Food Hall
After all that waterfall hopping, you’re sure to be hungry, so a trip to Idaho’s original food hall is in store. The 2nd South Market in downtown Twin Falls has roughly seven or so vendors serving up everything from barbecue to pizza to craft coffee.
The outdoor space around the food hall often has live entertainment, yard games, and places for grandkids or dogs to hang out, so it’s a nice relaxing way to check out Twin Falls’s cool, laid-back personality.
Pro Tip: We turned to our friend Sarah with Visit Southern Idaho for more locals-recommended places to eat. She highly recommends Elevation 486, Redhawk Dining, Koto Brewing, and La Fiesta. Even better, these places are all locally owned, so you can support the small businesses that make this town so vibrant.
4. Scenic Drives
Twin Falls is a great place to start out on easy and ridiculously scenic road trips along Idaho’s many scenic drives. It’s somewhat centrally located or within an hour of many of the celebrated drives through the state.
Thousand Springs Scenic Byway
The Thousand Springs Scenic Byway on Highway 30 can be accessed right from Twin Falls. This winding route runs through some of the most picturesque scenery in southern Idaho along the Snake River.
On this drive, discover hot springs, Thousand Springs State Park, and Balanced Rock — a 48-foot-tall boulder balanced delicately on a 3-foot base. This scenic drive takes about an hour to complete if you just drive straight through as it’s only about 67 miles one way.
Sawtooth Scenic Byway
If you have an afternoon or whole day free, take a drive up Highway 75 just outside of Twin Falls on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway to the Sawtooth Mountain Range. This drive was one of the most beautiful drives we experienced and we spotted mule deer, antelope, a plethora of bird life, wild turkeys, and maybe even an elk or two, though they were too distant to be sure.
City Of Rocks Scenic Byway
The City of Rocks National Reserve, located down the City of Rocks Scenic Byway about 90 minutes south of Twin Falls, was one of the top destinations we visited on our Idaho road trip. This mind-boggling area is filled with towering rock formations millions of years in the making. Besides hiking the many trails, climbing up the rocks (if you dare), and watching for the multitude of wildlife, City of Rocks is also rich with history.
Emigrants traveling the California Trail passed through this “rocky city.” You can see their names scrawled on rocks or ruts from wagons left on the rocks. Another great way to explore the park is by bike. The road from Circle Creek Overlook to Stripe Rock is especially popular for cyclists as it’s closed to motorized traffic.
We spent a night or two camping here and the stargazing was mind-blowing. I highly recommend the Twin Sisters Campground, if you do choose to camp.
5. Herrett Center For Arts And Science
Twin Falls’s Herrett Center for Arts and Science houses the Faulkner Planetarium — the largest planetarium in Idaho. The planetarium has numerous showtimes all day long and rotates out the spectacular films on a regular basis. If you are a star nut like me, you’ll adore this excursion.
The center itself is a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon or a rainy day. It houses more than 35,000 artifacts and specimens of Native Peoples of the Americas, Europe, and Africa as well as a great geology exhibit of North and Central America.
The center also boasts of the College of Southern Idaho’s vast art collection of 500 paintings, sculptures, and pottery pieces.
Idaho as a state is an overlooked gem of a destination, and if you’re looking for a central location to start your adventures, Twin Falls doesn’t disappoint.