Pillar Falls a beautiful destination near Twin Falls, ID
Don’t put your kayaks away for the season just yet! Southern Idaho’s continued warm weather means there is still time to experience one of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls.
Buried deep within Snake River Canyon, you’ll find a phenomenal formation of pillars, unloaded by vehicles or roads. These massive boulders rise above the ground, perched precariously next to each other.
Between the peaks, water cascades through a series of terraces known as Pillar Falls. This magnificent exhibit is part of the longest body of water in Gem State, the Snake River. It’s absolutely gorgeous and a must on your Idaho bucket list.
The Snake River is 779 miles long, but you will only have to travel three miles to experience this unique place. Another option is to attempt an extremely steep one-mile descent. You can find the details of the Pillar Falls hike here.
How you choose to get to this hidden gem is entirely up to you. Personally, I decided to go kayaking. I think it’s best if you want to experience the BASE jumpers on Perrine Bridge up close and personally, but also prefer to stay dry.
The paddle to Pillar Falls is almost as amazing as the destination itself. Much of your hike will include marveling at one of Twin Falls’ crown jewels, the Perrine Bridge.
Photos do not do this place justice. There is nothing else like it in the country, literally. The Perrine Bridge is the only bridge in the United States where it is legal to BASE jump, year round, without a permit.
Watching the BASE jumpers, seeming so small from where you will float, magnifies the scale of the canyon.
In the water, eagerly awaiting the impending leap, you can almost feel the adrenaline rush over the next person fearless enough to take the plunge.
People travel all over the world to experience the 486-foot drop. I can only imagine the thrill of feeling your weight drop under your feet, your heart sink into your chest, and the sheer exhilaration of soaring into the sky.
BASE jumping can be very risky, so you will never see me trying it. That being said, I really like the spectator part of the sport and I think you might like it too!
I ended up watching the BASE jumpers for about half an hour. During high season, you’ll see a thrill-seeker try their luck every few minutes. There is something so exciting about seeing other people do what I could never bring myself to.
I held my breath whenever someone’s feet left the safety of the ledge, heaved a sigh of relief once their parachute was deployed, and watched in awe as they slowly glided toward safety. I could have stayed there all day, but we needed to move.
From our starting point in Centennial Park, the drive to Pillar Falls is 1.5 miles upstream. To say my arms were sore is an understatement.
They don’t call it Magic Valley for no reason. This region is home to a plethora of natural wonders, including Shoshone Falls.
At 212 feet, Shoshone Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the country, surpassing the height of Niagara Falls. Despite its remoteness, Shoshone Falls has attracted large crowds since the 1860s.
Pillar Falls is consistently overlooked due to its proximity to its famous counterpart, though both can be reached in a single kayak tour. All you need to do is haul your kayak through the rocky terrain that makes up Pillar Falls, to the part connecting the Snake River.
There is approximately 100 meters between your initial mooring point and your upstream launch point.
From there it will take you another mile and a half to get to Shoshone Falls, doubling the time of your trip and taking you to six miles round trip.
Took me about four hours to get to Pillar Falls and back, so if you want to go to Shoshone Falls as well, plan twice as long. Please note that times can vary considerably. It all depends on how fast you can paddle, how strong the wind is, and how long you plan to stay for sightseeing, so plan accordingly.
Unlike Pillar Falls, Shoshone Falls is accessible by car. This is Twin Falls’ most popular tourist attraction, and there is a perch where visitors can view the waterfall from afar.
Personally, I think it’s much more exciting to experience Shoshone Falls from below. There is something about the waves rocking you back and forth, listening to the roar of the water and feeling the spray of the falls on your face that lets you appreciate the magnitude of this natural phenomenon of a whole new way.
Paddling is the only option to enjoy these breathtaking views. Unlike Pillar Falls, this incredible vantage point is not accessible by motorboat or hiking.
I brought my own kayak for this adventure, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. There are shops nearby that offer rentals. You can check the prices here.
If you decide to bring your own kayak, you must purchase an Invasive Species Fund sticker from Idaho Parks and Rec in advance. You can purchase your 2021 sticker here.
Once you get to Pillar Falls, you can fish, hike, and observe the vibrant ecosystems that thrive in small, individual pools throughout the area.
As I walked under these magnificent monoliths, I was in awe of their size and splendor. However, this beauty does not come without a bit of danger.
The Snake River is channeled into a ten foot wide torrent with a current strong enough to bring down a kayak. This is a well known drowning hazard and the reason kayaks need to be transported past this part. Please take this seriously and don’t get too close to the ledge. People have lost their lives here.
This trip upstream can be extremely taxing, so be sure to check the wind in the forecast before heading here. Keep in mind that the wind speed is also higher inside the canyon.
This might not be the most popular opinion, but I actually prefer doing this tour in cooler weather. I had the opportunity to experience Pillar Falls in the spring and was still sweating a storm! You can watch the video of my experience below. It will also show you exactly where to park, take off and hike! Enjoy!