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Twin Falls – A BASE Jumping Paradise

Great Hotel In Twin Falls

There are extreme sports, and then there’s BASE Jumping. It’s bungee jumping without the cord. Skydiving without the airplane. You just strap on a parachute and jump off something tall. And Twin Falls is the only place in the world you can legally do it year-round.

BAse Jumper

The Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls is famous around the world’s community of BASE jumpers as the perfect launch spot. The Snake River Canyon is deep enough for a long, scenic descent, and perhaps most importantly, you don’t need any kind of permit. Perhaps wanting to avoid liability, neither the state, the county nor the city claim the bridge as in their jurisdiction, so there’s no place to seek permission. Just strap a parachute on, stomp out to the middle of the bridge, and jump off into the void.

Of course, it’s only that easy for truly experienced BASE jumpers. Most people participate in this activity with organized groups, with experts on hand to provide training and assistance. We were lucky to see one such group in action. It was just crazy to watch these guys and gals stand on the bridge, look down 500 feet, gather their courage, and then actually jump off.

And it looked like crazy fun. Some of the more advanced jumpers did a back flip or a swan dive, falling for ten or twenty meters before releasing their parachutes. They’d then steer themselves back down to the landing strip, next to the river. Most accomplished this pretty well, though we did see one guy land himself in the trees.

Don’t tell Jürgen, but I’ve mentally added BASE jumping to the list of experiences we’re going to try out one day. It must be the ultimate thrill.

Location of Base Jump Spot

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January 1, 2013 at 9:50 am Comments (0)

Twin Falls and the Snake River Canyon

Great Place To Stay In Twin Falls: Red Lion!

After exploring eastern Idaho, we slowly made our way back west. The eventual goal was Boise, but first we’d be spending a few nights in Twin Falls, to see the city and investigate the surrounding area, which goes by the promising name of Magic Valley.

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To enter Twin Falls from the north, you have to cross the Perrine Bridge across the Snake River Canyon. Dropping down 500 feet and stretching across a quarter mile, the canyon serves as a jaw-dropping front door for the city. From the bridge, the view of the valley takes in the Snake River far below, winding its way west, and a golf course on the canyon floor. You can walk across the bridge or take a pedestrian path leads most of the way along the canyon’s rim.

The Snake River Canyon is well-known as the site for one of Evil Keneival’s bravest, most death-defying stunts. In 1974, the daredevil attempted to jump the canyon on his Skycycle X-2. He didn’t even come close, but it was a spectacular failure.

Unfortunately, apart from the amazing front door provided by the Snake River, Twin Falls itself fails to impress. For a city of over 40,000, the downtown is surprisingly small. There are a couple decent joints, such as O’Dunkens Draught House where we had a delicious lunch, but otherwise you’ll not find much to do. Immediately outside of downtown, it’s all strip malls.

No, the real reason for a stay in Twin Falls is the beauty of the surrounding area. The Shoshone Falls are found here, just a few miles from the city center. These massive waterfalls on the Snake River are called the “Niagara of the West”, and are in fact bigger than their more famous eastern cousin. Unfortunately, during the late-autumn season in which we were visiting, the water had mostly abated, leaving it much less impressive than in the spring, during the winter run-off.

Location of Twin Falls | Shoshone Falls

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December 31, 2012 at 7:22 am Comments (2)

Goldbug Hot Springs

Hot Springs of the Northwest

The best hidden gem we uncovered during our travels through Idaho was the Goldbug Hot Springs. Found at the end of a beautiful and moderately-rough hike through a canyon just south of Salmon, these cascading hot springs offer an idyllic experience, far off the beaten track.

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We had been completely unaware of Goldbug’s existence until finding a flyer about it in Salmon’s Chamber of Commerce. It wasn’t in any of the guide books we read, and even most of the locals we would talk with later, from Challis to Sun Valley, hadn’t heard of it. Or perhaps, they pretended not to have heard of it. Goldbug is a paradise, and there’s no better way to ruin paradise than by attracting too many tourists to it.

The trail to the hot springs gets started here in a small parking lot just off Highway 93. The two-mile trail initially skirts through private property, but soon enters public land and becomes increasingly gorgeous as it follows a small stream into a mountain valley. Even without the promise of hot springs, the trail would itself make a great excursion. The final stretch is strenuous, going up into the hills, but the reward waiting at the end makes it all worthwhile.

The Goldbug Hot Springs are a collection of five or six pools complete with waterfalls and a view over an unforgettable valley landscape. The pools are of varying temperatures; warmer nearer the source, cooler further down, but never too hot nor too cold. And the waterfalls are the crowining touch; I sat underneath one for about fifteen minutes, just letting the hot water pound my shoulders and neck. Even if there are other groups visiting the hot springs, the number of pools almost guarantees some solitude.

We stayed much longer than we had planned, and felt like we were floating on clouds during the walk back to the car. Apologies to all the residents of Salmon and Challis who would like to keep Goldbug secret. We can totally understand that. But this is a piece of nature so incredible, that it simply must be shared.

Location of the Trailhead on our Idaho Map

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November 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm Comments (10)

The Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway

Don’t Come To Idaho Without Binoculars

33 miles of paved road between Banks and Lowman constitute the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway. Although we didn’t see any elk during our trip, they’re a common sight during the winter. Along the road, there’s even a turn-out with binoculars pointed at a large plain called Gallagher Flat, where they especially like to congregate.

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The road hugs the South Fork of the Payette River, passing waterfalls of varying sizes and breathtaking canyon scenery. Sheer walls of rock infused with pitch-black streaks lava tower overhead, while far below the river winds its way through the valley. There are frequent turn-outs at spots of special historic importance, as well as at places with particularly beautiful views. And we took advantage of every one.

Check out the route on Google Maps

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September 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm Comments (2)