Stunning Idaho features some of the most rugged terrain on the continent, the most whitewater in the lower 48, the largest expanse of wilderness area in the continental United States, and a host of interesting hydrological features like hot springs and magnificent Idaho waterfalls.
While Idaho is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine waterfalls, there is certainly no shortage of fantastic water displays to be found throughout the state!
Idaho has a waterfall destination for all inclinations ranging from desert canyonlands in the southeastern part of the state to rainforest-Esque National Forests in the north.
Ordered in no particular sequence, below are some of the best waterfalls in Idaho to visit on your next adventure.
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Shoshone Falls Park
Located in the town of Twin Falls, this is a must-see for anyone in the area!
Often referred to as “The Niagara of the West,” Shoshone falls spans 900 ft wide and has a height of 212 ft, making this one of the largest natural waterfalls on the entire continent, surpassing the height of the actual Niagra Falls by 45 ft.
The rate of flow is highly variable and dependent on the previous years’ snowfall.
Shoshone Falls can be almost completely dry in the fall season due to water diversions filling local reservoirs. It is advised to visit in the spring during snowmelt when there will be maximum flow.
Upper Mesa Falls
Drive the Mesa Falls scenic byway through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, and you will find Upper Mesa Falls.
Easily accessible, this 114-foot tall waterfall is sure to be fun for the whole family.
Stop at the visitors center for a geology and history lesson of the area before taking the short walk to the viewing platform that provides stunning views of the surrounding forest and falls.
If you’re feeling like some more exercise, the Mesa Nature Trail is located in the upper parking lot just past the visitors center, leading to Lower Mesa Falls.
Lower Mesa Falls
The Mesa Falls scenic byway contains not just one but two impressive Idaho waterfalls to explore.
Located about a mile south of Upper Mesa Falls, the visitor center and parking area are where you will find the Grandview observation site and campground.
This waterfall is no less majestic than its counterpart we already mentioned. However, it is often overlooked due to the lack of a visitor center and dedicated parking area.
As mentioned previously, you can also access this fall via the Mesa Nature Trail located at the Upper Mesa Falls parking area.
The entire scenic byway is closed in the winter due to snowfall. However, the Forest Service keeps it groomed for snowmobiles and cross country skiers for the more adventure-minded who want to observe the falls in the winter!
Jump Creek Falls
Located outside the small farming town of Marsing, the Jump Creek Recreation Area hosts one of the most stunning waterfalls in Idaho!
An easy half-mile hike from the parking area leads to a 60-foot waterfall nestled in a deep gorge on the edge of the Owyhee Canyonlands, with several pools to cool off in during the hot summer months.
The perfect choice for a day full of easy hiking, swimming, and a picnic! Some very generous landowners have allowed public roads through their property to access the area so, please be respectful of private property signs.
And despite the name, please, do NOT try jumping off the waterfall! It is extremely dangerous to do so!
Cauldron Linn (Star Falls)
Situated on the famous Oregon Trail, the mighty Snake River is squeezed into a 40ft wide slot of the canyon, creating a truly epic set of class IV rapids and waterfalls.
Cauldron Linn, also known as Star Falls, isn’t so much a single waterfall but more so a section of canyon that hosts several falls and stretches of wild water.
A well-worn dirt path from the parking area marks the route to the scenic views.
However, keep in mind that this is a truly wild area. There are no guard rails or safety features to keep someone from wandering right up to the canyon edge.
Exercise caution and good judgment when in the area and stick to visitation during daylight hours.
Moyie Falls is a lesser-known waterfall in northern Idaho, not too far from the Canadian border.
A two-tiered waterfall, with the upper section plummeting 60-100 ft and the lower cascading another 20-40 ft.
The height of the falls and flow is seasonally dependent and can sometimes stop altogether if water is diverted to power the local lumber mill.
An easy drive through the small town of Moyie Springs (population 714) leads you to a parking area that provides access to the observation areas and a wooden bridge spanning the river that visitors can walk across!
Perrine Coulee Falls
The unique Perrine Coulee Falls is truly one of the most awe-inspiring waterfalls in Idaho.
Located in the eastern portion of the state, this is Twin Falls’ only year-round waterfall.
A 200ft freefall drop directly into the Snake River Canyon is majestic in ways that are truly hard to describe unless you have seen it in person.
There are two paths you can take to experience the falls. The first trail takes you along the canyon’s rim right up to the water’s edge, providing an exciting view of the surrounding area that emphasizes just how tall this waterfall is.
The second trail takes you along the bottom of the canyon wall behind the curtain of water itself. The lower path is my preferred option during the hot summer months as the resulting spray from the impact of the water is quite refreshing.
Ritter Island Waterfall, Thousand Springs State Park
Several waterfalls are all located within the Thousand Springs State Park boundaries that we will touch on, all of which are worth checking out. However, the Ritter Island Waterfall is the largest and most prominent.
The Ritter Island Waterfall is an artificial fall that is in part fed by irrigation canals and diverted waters that go towards powering the hydroelectric station nearby.
Despite this being the largest waterfall in the park, the smaller ones are just as worth viewing. A 1.5-mile hike that follows the same path as the old Oregon Trail follows the river and takes you along the canyon wall that is overrun with small waterfalls that arent fed by creeks or rivers but by freshwater springs that sprout from the earth directly from the rock face!
They call this place “Thousand Springs” for a reason!
Fall Creek Falls
If you were to judge this waterfall by its somewhat uninspired name, you might be forgiven if you were to pass on the opportunity to give it a look. But that would surely be a mistake!
Despite its name, this Idaho waterfall is anything but uninspired! Some would say this is the best fall in Eastern Idaho, and it would be hard to argue otherwise.
Its ease of accessibility and majestic views make this a truly magical place to visit, particularly at sunset (or sunrise if you can muster the energy to wake up early!).
Located just off Highway 26, you will take a dirt road about a mile and a half, leading to a parking area right next to the top of the falls! No hiking is necessary.
Some paths lead to the base of the falls, but do so at your own risk! The path leading down can be steep and slick in some spots.
Lowers Salmon Falls Park
The Lower Salmon Falls park is a camping area and reservoir filled with recreational opportunities in addition to the waterfall that shares the same name.
Managed by the Idaho Power utility company, this free 4-acre day-use area may not provide the most breathtaking waterfall experience on this list. But the opportunity for adjacent recreational opportunities more than makes up for it!
If you are interested strictly in viewing the most majestic waterfalls possible, check out the neighboring Upper Salmon Falls…
Upper Salmon Falls
A mere five miles from the previous entry, Upper Salmon Falls is the more stunning of the two Salmon Falls.
A 2.5-mile hike starting at the foot traffic only Owsley Bridge leads you to a viewing area near the top of the falls.
While the trail can be somewhat uninteresting, don’t let the lackluster walk-in fool you though! Upper Salmon Falls is the uppermost of a series of waterfalls on this section of the Snake River and is a local photography favorite.
A cascading series of small drops that stack on top of each other create a dramatic and picturesque landscape.
Be sure to bring a camera as you will be sorely disappointed if you miss the opportunity to photograph one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Idaho!