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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Southern Idaho: Malad Gorge, Perrine Bridge and Shoshone Falls

After leaving Bend Oregon bright and early, we continued East to Salt Lake City.   It was going to be a long day of driving through eastern Oregon, across southern Idaho and then into Utah to Salt Lake City.  While the drive was long, I was pretty excited for a few stops in Idaho.  I have become oddly obsessed with Idaho lately.... it is a little weird right?  I guess my obsession stems from realizing there was more in the state besides potatoes.  

Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls
There are mountains, and streams, waterfalls and caves???  Yes, I was that ignorant.  Growing up on the East Coast, no one talks about the fly over states, or any of the states in the middle of the country really.  Sure Denver gets some attention, but that is about it. 

During my trip last month to Bear Lake sitting on the Idaho/Utah border, I picked up a Idaho travel magazine and was blown away by what I saw.  There on the cover was a gigantic waterfall, and throughout the pages were pristine rivers, lakes, and peaks  I knew my time was running out (more on that tomorrow) for all the things I want to do here, but I swore to see the beautiful Shoshone Falls before I left the West (spoiler!). 


Driving back from Bend, the scenery was a little lackluster.  We did love the scenery along the Malheur River (a tributary to the Snake River), but we were excited to hit the highway once again and be home.  I will warn you, the gas stations were a little sparse through the eastern section of Oregon so be prepared.  Once we were back on the highway and into Idaho, I planned two quick pitstops off the highway to stretch our legs during the nearly 10 hour drive from Bend to SLC.  The stops were Malad Gorge, Perrine Bridge and Shoshone Falls. 

Malad Gorge State Park
Malad Gorge State Park
Malad Gorge is a section of the Thousand Springs State Park. This State Park consists of 5 unites, one being the beautiful Malad Gorge. Malad Gorge is a 250-foot-deep (76 m) canyon formed by the Malad River, downstream from a 60-foot (18 m) waterfall. This 652-acre day-use-only unit is just off Interstate 84 and offers hiking and picnicking.

We drove into the park, over to the (terrifying) bridge spanning over Malad Gorge. From here you had views into the canyon, with the Malad River winding through. It was a beautiful sight, and a quick stop to stretch our legs, but you can imagine my weak knees staring into the gorge below. 

Bridge over Malad Gorge
Bridge over Malad Gorge 
Malad River
Malad River 
Malad River and Gorge
Malad River and Gorge

The Perrine Bridge is a truss arch bridge spanning the Snake River.  The bridge is 1500' in length and was completed in 1976 over the Snake River Canyon (max height 486').  This bridge is a beautiful photo op right off the highway, with a viewing area of the river below and cool angles of the bridge.  This is also a popular spot for BASE jumpers (Building, antenna span and earth).  We enjoyed the views, watching a view kayakers making their way down the Snake River below. 
Perrine Bridge over the Snake River
Perrine Bridge over the Snake River
Perrine Bridge over the Snake River
Perrine Bridge over the Snake River
Snake River
Snake River
Snake River Canyon
Snake River Canyon
Shoshone Falls is known as the "Niagara of the West".  I have to admit, while Niagra is a well known attraction, Shoshone is not (atleast to us easterners).  Shoshone Falls is a 212 water fall from the top to the canyon fall, making it 50' HIGHER than Niagara Falls.  Late spring and summer are the best times to view the falls, as the water levels are highest.  When we visited the falls, the water levels were actually at a low level.  If this is the falls at low, I can only imagine what they look like at high.

You can call before you go to get an idea of how the falls are, or do as I do, stalk the place on instagram for recent photos.  Recent photos showed water at the falls and when we got to the entrance gate, there was a sign marking the falls as low.  While here you can also visit the Dierkes Lakes. You can even follow a trail to the spot of the famous Evil Knievel Jump Site (1974 the world famous attempt to jump the Snake River in his sky cycle). 

Besides the fall, you can walk around and picnic at the park, spanning 218 acres.  Dogs are allowed around Shoshone Falls on leash.  The park is open from 7am to 10pm, and the cost is $3 per car.  There is a little store and restroom at the Shoshone Falls viewing area.  

Snake River from Shoshone Falls
Snake River from Shoshone Falls 
Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls viewing deck
Shoshone Falls Viewing Deck
So thats the "Idaho Sampler" if you will, and the perfect quick pit stops off the highway on a long driving day.  Idaho is a beautiful state, and we've only tapped into the southern part. Thanks for the scenic spots, and a chance to stretch our legs Idaho, we will be back. 

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