Named for a pair of 200-foot cascades on the Snake River, both of which have long been diverted for irrigation or to generate electricity, Twin Falls (pop. 49,764) is the heart of the extensive “Magic Valley” of highly productive irrigated croplands that cover half a million acres of south-central Idaho.
Best known to people outside Idaho as the place where, in 1974, daredevil Evel Knievel tried and failed to ride a rocket-powered motorcycle across the Snake River Canyon, Twin Falls is both a quiet farming community and a busy highway town—with a barrage of backlit and neon signs around the junction of US-93 and the I-84 freeway.
This lone unique attraction of Twin Falls, the site of Evel Knievel’s aborted motorcycle jump, is a mile north of town on US-93, south of I-84. There’s a large parking area and a visitors center at the south foot of the delicate Perrine Memorial Bridge, and it’s well worth stopping for, not only to see the remains of his launch pad (a triangular pile of dirt, on private property a mile or so east of the bridge) or the stone monument that reads “Robert ‘Evel’ Knievel—Explorer, Motorcyclist, Daredevil.” The views down into the 500-foot-deep gorge, the floor of which has been irrigated and filled with a bright green golf course, are also impressive, especially at sunset when the whole scene takes on an otherworldly glow.
Though the town can make a good jumping-off point for Sun Valley and the mountain wilderness farther north, there’s not a lot to do in Twin Falls. The waterfalls for which the town is named are worth a look if you have the time; Shoshone Falls, taller than Niagara, may still impress, especially in spring. Check them out from the park at the end of Champlin Road, seven miles east of US-93.
Without its namesake waterfalls, however, Twin Falls has little to offer travelers apart from a chance to fill the gas tank, eat, or get a night’s sleep. For breakfast or a burger, head to the Buffalo Café (218 W. 4th St., 208/734-0271) or the 24-hour Depot Grill (545 S. Shoshone St., 208/733-0710) along downtown’s diagonal main drag, where all-you-can-eat fried chicken is served up every Tuesday night. Sleep at your choice of some two dozen motels around the US-93/I-84 junction.
Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs
South of Twin Falls, there’s a whole lot of nothing in the 47 miles before you reach the Nevada border at Jackpot. One place worth a stop is the summer-only Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs (208/655-4337, $8), halfway to Nevada, where you’ll find a 104-106°F hot tub, a giant (125-by-50-foot!) spring-fed swimming pool, a 90-foot water slide, a tree-shaded picnic area and snack bar, and a campground ($20). Nat-Soo-Pah is about a mile south of Hollister, then three miles east on a well-signed road. There are a number of other natural springs in the area, so if you enjoy being in hot water, southern Idaho is a great place to explore.