Shoshone Falls, known as "The Niagara of the West", is one of the true great waterfalls of the North American continent. The falls of the Snake River plunge 212 feet over a horseshoe shaped formation over 900 feet in width. Depending on the volume of water present in the falls it may take on many different forms, ranging from a solid, broad wall of water to three or four more delicate streams which braid down an otherwise dry cliff.
Unfortunately the grandiosity of the falls is greatly reduced from that of its natural stature thanks to the numerous dams installed on the Snake River which siphon much of the river off for agricultural use. The American Falls and Milner Dams - both located well upstream from the falls - draw off over two thirds of the volume of the river into canals which serve to irrigate the vast farmlands of the Snake River Plain. The remaining volume of the river which actually reaches the falls then has to contend with the Shoshone Falls Dam, installed in 1907, which draws off up to another 1,000 cubic feet of water from the river every second. This ultimately has the effect of greatly reducing the falls.
A stream gauge downstream of the falls suggests the annual average volume of water reaching the falls is around 3,600 cubic feet per second. During the spring months when snow is melting in the Rockies near the source of the river, that figure may double, ensuring plenty of water flows over the falls, however during the dry summer months when rainfall is sparse and peak irrigation is underway, the river can shrink to less than 1,000 cfs and in turn the falls can be sucked totally dry by the hydro project. Recent stream flow data from the USGS is somewhat sparse, but based on historical data the best time of year to see the falls flowing heavily enough that the falls would resemble its natural appearance is between October and June.
- Shoshone Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
The name Shoshone was given to the waterfall in honor of a tribe of Native Americans who inhabited the area, officially adopted by the USGS in 1905, but it is not known exactly when the falls were first given this name or who discovered them. During the early 20th century when Shoshone Falls was being developed for hydroelectric use and was gaining national notoriety for the comparisons being made to Niagara, several additional names were applied to portions of the falls. The smaller upper tiers of the falls, where the river splits around several pillar-like islands, seem to have each been individually named (left to right): The Bridal Veil, The Brides Maid, The Two Graces and The Sentinel. As there is a nearby waterfall flowing from Dierkes Lake now known as Bridal Veil Falls (see link below), it is thought that the name of one of these upper tiers of Shoshone Falls was inadvertently given to the falls which formed on the outlet of Dierkes Lake once it came into existence in the 1920s as a result of a rise in the water table due to the agricultural use in the area.
In downtown Twin Falls Idaho, find the junction of Route 93 and East 4000 N Road, and follow East 4000 N Road east for three miles, then turn left onto Champlin Road (watch for signs for Shoshone Falls Park). Follow Champlin to where it becomes Canyon Grade Road and proceed to its end at the park in another 1.8 miles. Several short trails lead to views of the falls along the rim of the canyon.