Magic Valley – Filer, ID

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We’re in Idaho again – Yay!

In Sept of 2016, Idaho became the 49th and final state we entered, achieving our goal of visiting every state and adding the last one to our map.  Back then we got a taste of Idaho’s natural beauty while camped at Coeur d’Alene up north, but we were excited to be back now to see much more of the state.

Our home base was in Filer, at Twin Falls County Fairground RV Park, and we were happy to have the quiet place practically to ourselves.

After several stops at noisy and busy parks, this was more like it!

Magic Valley was constantly mentioned in the local weather forecasts, and we realized we were in Magic Valley.  But what’s so magical about this area?  Siri advised me that we were camped in one of the 8 southern Idaho counties that comprise Magic Valley.  It was named after the early settlers who built dams and irrigation canals along the Snake River to create productive farmland and towns that seemed to magically spring up out of nowhere on the sagebrush-covered southern Idaho desert.

Farmland in Hagerman Valley, they must have just harvested the famous potatoes here

The Snake River is in the heart of this region, and what the early settlers built also resulted in the reservoirs becoming recreation havens.  The river cut through ancient basalt lava flows, forming the Snake River Canyon which is a mile wide and 500′ deep in some spots. What’s so unique and special about this rugged canyon are the numerous waterfalls pouring out of its sheer basalt walls, creating a dramatic background that extends for more than 50 miles.

Close-up view of one of many springs that push huge amounts of water off volcanic cliff faces

It was along Thousand Springs Scenic Byway from Hagerman up north to Twin Falls that we saw dozens of these springs/waterfalls surging over the canyon walls.  We also noticed a mix of geological features resulting from the Bonneville Flood, along with miles of beautiful rural farmland.  It actually was kind of magical!

These partly rounded basalt boulders were deposited in Hagerman after bouncing along the Snake River during the Bonneville Flood.  They’re called Melon Gravels

Tall basalt cliffs and a nearly dry waterfall

The valley around Hagerman contains the largest concentration of horse fossils in North America.  It’s being protected by the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument because it holds the world’s richest known fossil deposits from a time period called the late Pliocene epoch – about 3 to 4 million years ago.

Had the visitor center been open, I would have learned more about the area’s history and paleontology.  But I had to settle for this photo of the monument from the Snake River Overlook:

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument from across the Snake River

Twin Falls sits on the south rim of the Snake River, the largest city in Magic Valley.  It’s also known as Idaho’s own “City of Waterfalls”, from the broad crashing waters of Shoshone Falls to the smaller rapids along its outskirts.  The best way to enjoy the panoramic views and interesting facts of the canyon is to follow the 10-mile Canyon Rim Trail.

We did it in two walks; first going east from the visitor center to Evel Knievel’s historic jump site, and on another day walking from a parking lot to the west of the visitor center back to the bridge.  Then we walked both ways across the Perrine Bridge before visiting Centennial Park at the bottom of the canyon.

What I learned as we gazed into the deep, scenic canyon is that Snake River Canyon was actually sculpted and shaped when Utah’s Lake Bonneville overflowed about 17,500 years ago.  It was one of the largest floods to ever occur on Earth.  The 70 mile-per-hour deluge plucked huge boulders from the basalt cliffs and gouged out channels along the canyon floor.

An unnamed waterfall on the canyon wall

Pillar Falls in part of the rapids

Shoshone waterfall

Lunch with a view of Shoshone Falls

It was here in 1974 that Evel Knievel unsuccessfully attempted to jump across the Snake River Canyon in his Skycycle X-2 rocket.  The dirt ramp built for that jump is still here, and we stood on it while marveling at the scope of the stunt.

The hill that Evel Kneivel built

Steve remembers the event and was happy the ramp is still here

Perrine Bridge spans the canyon nearly 500′ above the Snake River, and is a hot spot for base jumpers from around the world.  It’s the only location in the U.S. open to legal BASE jumping year-round.  We saw many jumpers preparing during our visit, but never actually saw any of them take the plunge.

We walked across Perrine Bridge, can you spot the kayaker way down there?

Here’s what the BASE jumpers see as they jump.  I don’t think so!

A kayaker approaches the canyon wall

Perrine Bridge

The bridge was the highest in the world in 1927, at 476′ above the river

On the day we followed the path from the west end parking lot toward the visitor center, we passed through residential areas with gorgeous canyon views.  It was unusual to see the Canyon Springs Golf Course and Blue Lakes Country Club down there at the bottom of the canyon.

Winding Snake River

Canyon Springs Golf Course looked beautiful from above

Perrine-Coulee waterfall viewed from the path

View of the south side of the canyon from the north end of the bridge

Touching the water, one of my rituals!

Steve cooling off behind the Perrine-Coulee Waterfall

To complete our visit in Magic Valley we drove east of the Snake River to see two waterfalls that were created as a result of the Bonneville Flood.  Our first stop was to see the namesake of the city, Twin Falls, which was named when there were originally two parallel falls on the river.

An old photo of Twin Falls shows two separate falls before the powerhouse was built (the shadows are from the protective railings)

The power plant was built on one side of the falls, and Twin Falls Dam altered the falls by diverting the flow of the Snake River into a single waterfall.

Twin Falls with the power plant on the right side

The premiere attraction of Magic Valley is what is being claimed as the Niagara of the West, Shoshone Falls.  Having been to Niagara Falls, we were intrigued with the reference and pretty darned impressed.  Shoshone Falls is 36′ taller than Niagara Falls, with a 212′ drop that cascades over a broad series of rocks. Because we visited here during spring with high water flows from snowmelt, the tremendous volume of water lived up to its nickname.

That house on top of the cliff has a million dollar view of the falls for sure!

A double rainbow at Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

That’s a beauty

Our first stop in Idaho was definitely impressive.  The Snake River, the vast rural farmland and the dramatic Snake River Canyon made Magic Valley a great place to visit!

 

Next up:  Ice Caves, Camas, Cows and Cinder Cones



 

30 thoughts on “Magic Valley – Filer, ID

  1. I am enjoying exploring a state we have seen little of, through your eyes. Love the photo of you under the waterfall and the photos of the Shoshone Falls.

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  2. Love the photo of you under the rainbow:) This is a great stop with all the water and the falls. The hike out to the Evil Kneivel site was fun and interesting to see how far he was going to have to jump. I’m sorry you didn’t see any of the jumpers. It actually looked like fun. Once they opened their shoot, it was fun to watch them direct the parachute to the landing mark on a path by the water. Then, the climb up was by far the hardest part. I’m looking forward to checking out the Thousand Springs area.

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    • Thank you Pam, I had a handsome photographer 🙂 We were really disappointed no jumpers on those days we were there. I would love to see them or hear them scream if they do!

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      • They don’t scream from fear but did cheer from excitement. They were having a wonderful time. But it sure is a lot of work for a very short ride.

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  3. We would love to check this out MonaLiza! We learned a lot about the evolution of the horse at John Day Fossil Beds. Love this post! :)))

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    • We concluded initially that the river sculpted the canyon, only to learn later it was the flood coming from Utah that did it.

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  4. Thank you for the write-up on Magic Valley, Filer, Twin Falls and all the things to see and do. We love the West and waterfalls, so you can be sure we’ll be checking those places out in the years to come. Next year, we’re doing the Northeast, though, as that is new to us. We’re thinking a six-month trip!!

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  5. We found Shoshone Falls to be really beautiful, too. Love the photo of you beneath the rainbow! I’m so glad to hear that you didn’t decide to participate in base jumping. (Can you imagine??) 🙂

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    • We will visit Idaho Falls sometime late July and I hope there will still be some running stream then.

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      • Oops, I meant to say Twin Falls … always got the two towns mixed up. I didn’t care much for Idaho Falls even though that’s where I went shopping once a week during our two-month workamping gig. There are some beautiful sights in that part of Idaho.

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  6. Love the photo of Steve cooling off behind the waterfalls and the picture of you with the rainbow overhead! Waterfalls are always amazing to see no matter how big or small. Thanks for the history about Twin Falls only being One Fall…cool fact for sure! The Niagara of the West is impressive. I’ve sure been enjoying your summer travels MonaLiza…happy trails! P.S. I have to touch the water too!

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    • Ha ha glad to hear I am not the only one with touch the water ritual. I love it when we can get behind the waterfalls, the showers refresh you. I know it should be renamed now to “One Fall”

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  7. We wished for more time in Twin Falls, but had to make do with just one on this trip. It’s grown quite a bit since we were last here, but not like some of the other places on our route. Filer is a good base to explore the area … I think we’ll stay where you did next time we come through.

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  8. I never knew that one of the twins at Twin Falls no longer exists. I appreciate hydroelectric power, but I feel a little sad for the twin that didn’t make it. And, yowza! Shoshone Falls is a real showstopper!

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    • I know, and I still have not learned how to do an ethereal or smooth or misty photo of a waterfall. Besides I need a tripod for it which I am really lazy to take it with me.

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  9. Awesome pics of the Falls and rainbows! So, you already hit 49 states in ‘16 and now returning to favorites? We have so much to see!!

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    • Thank you! It just took us 5 years to go around the country. Too bad we can not take Betsy to Hawaii, it would have covered our map.

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  10. Those falls are incredible. We may head through this area later this summer – it just depends on our route. Looks like it’s definitely worth a stop though. I want to see one of these loony BASE jumpers actually jump! Actually, I’m not sure I could watch. Too stressful….

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    • We drove there several times, at least just to watch one! I might be cooler here in summer and if you do be sure to camp in Stanley.

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  11. Congratulations on meeting one of your goals. Your maps are incredible! Idaho is one of my favorite places. I stood right where you stood at the bridge.

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    • Oh thank you, happy to read your comments again, it has been a while 🙂 We are now discovering Idaho is a beautiful and overlooked state.

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  12. Beautiful! I was near that region last year, and yes, I too was awed by the “dry” vegetation yet there was water water water everywhere, harnessed for the benefit of agriculture and power in the area. It’s a unique and beautiful area of the USA, thank you for reminding me to explore that region more.

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