Southern Idaho is such an underrated gem. And this action packed Southern Idaho guide is filled with all of the best things to do in Twin Falls, Idaho, including more waterfalls, canyons, gorges and springs than you can handle! Looking for a magical experience around Southern Idaho? Keep on reading!
Before we moved to the Pacific Northwest, the only thing we really knew about Idaho was that they produced a lot of potatoes. It wasn’t until I (Kathryn) visited Boise for a work trip right before we moved to Seattle that I got a glimpse of how amazing the state is.
However, despite living in Seattle for 3 years and seeing some epic photos of different spots around Idaho, we never made visiting a big enough priority until this summer. We had about 5 days to explore and set our sights on Southern Idaho (watch our vlogs here!) which was not only on our route to Seattle, but is home to some crazy epic scenery.
With tons of waterfalls, canyons, crystal clear springs, and unique natural sights, Southern Idaho is truly an underrated gem. Our time in Southern Idaho was spent saying “WOW!”, “oh look!”, “this is crazy!”, and “who knew this was here?!”
The area is full of incredible surprises. You could be driving down a road through farmland and all of the sudden round a corner or look down a bridge and then BAM there is a canyon or waterfall to explore. If you were just driving through, you could easily miss some of these spots, but with a little adventuring (and using our itinerary in this guide!), you will be left absolutely speechless.
In this 2 Days in Southern Idaho guide we’re sharing all of our tips for exploring this region of Idaho, including how to get there, where to stay, how to get around, and an itinerary with all of the best things to do in Twin Falls. Be prepared: you may fall madly in love with Idaho.
Looking for more things to do in Idaho? Check out our other Idaho guides:
- The 10 Best Waterfalls in Twin Falls, Idaho
- Backpacking to Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains
- 2 Days in the Sawtooth Mountains
- 2 Days in Boise, Idaho
- Riding the Route of the Hiawatha Trail
Reminder: Leave no Trace
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
- Plan ahead & prepare. Make sure you research and prepare for every adventure so that you know the rules, stay safe, and to minimize resource damage.
- Travel & camp on durable surfaces. Stay on the trail and only camp in designated areas, as well as the required length away from water sources.
- Dispose of waste properly. Whatever you pack in, pack it out! Make sure to carry out your trash, as well as any trash you find. If you have a dog, please do not leave poop bags on the trail. For human waste, use a trowel to dig a hole far from water sources or use a wag bag (sometimes required).
- Leave what you find. Do not take any items from the trail with you, including rocks, plants, or artifacts.
- Minimize campfire impacts. Know the rules of where you can and cannot have campfires and if allowed, use designated fire rings. Use local firewood to prevent bringing any pests or diseases to the area you’re visiting and make sure to fully extinguish your fire.
- Respect wildlife. Keep your distance from wildlife, control your pets on the trail, and never ever feed them! Make sure to keep your food stored properly as well (we like this bear canister).
- Be considerate of other visitors. Be respectful to others on the trail. Hikers going uphill have the right of way on hikes and it’s always courteous to let those quicker than you pass. Avoid playing music out loud, talking loudly, and having your pets bother others.
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
About Southern Idaho
According to Wikipedia, Southern Idaho includes the cities of Boise, Caldwell, Nampa, Meridian, Pocatello, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls. But for the sake of this guide, we’re going to focus mostly on the areas surrounding Twin Falls because it is where we spent our time and know the best, plus it offers SO much to do. We may stray a tiny bit from the actual city of Twin Falls, but Twin Falls could definitely be your “home base” for all of these activities.
Twin Falls is nicknamed the “City of Waterfalls” due to what feels like an endless amount of waterfalls in the area and the area is known as “Magic Valley.” And it truly is magical. As we mentioned above, the area is full of farmland, so if you were just driving through you may not think to stop here, but there is definitely more than meets the eye. There are so many canyons, views of the Snake River, springs, and cool natural scenery to explore.
Visiting other parts of Southern Idaho? We’re including lots of other ideas of things to do in the surrounding area that we didn’t have a chance to visit this time, but look forward to in the future!
When to visit Twin Falls
Climate wise, Southern Idaho, compared to the Sawtooths and Northern Idaho, is a lot more dry. The climate is considered high-desert, so the scenery is more brown (but not in a bad way!) and the temperatures can be both hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
We have only visited Southern Idaho during the summer and each time it has been chilly in the mornings, extremely sunny, and a bit hot by mid-day. During our latest visit, we went kayaking around 9 AM and were a bit cold out on the water, even with full sunshine. But by the end of the day, we were a tad sweaty from the increased temps.
If you’re looking to get out on the water, walk behind a waterfall, and do other outdoor activities that we’re suggesting in this guide, we’d recommend visiting May, June, or September. That way you’ll have warmer weather, but won’t get too hot.
As you can see on the image above, it does get pretty cold in the winters in Southern Idaho and it does snow (an average of 30” a year!). We can’t even imagine how beautiful some of the sights would be during this time! If you’re driving through the area in the winter, you could definitely still check out some of our suggestions of things to do in Twin Falls, but you may have some limitations due to icy roads.
Besides weather, something we try to take into consideration when deciding to visit a place is the crowd level. And one of the BEST things about Southern Idaho is that we hardly saw any people! For the majority of our hikes, trips to different viewpoints, and waterfall adventures, we either saw no one or a handful of people. In town and at some popular sights, like Shoshone Falls, there were definitely crowds, but besides that, we had a lot of solitude.
We hate to be sharing the secret of what a gem this part of the US is, but we just love it so much that we want others to experience it too!
Getting to Twin Falls
There are a few different ways to get to Twin Falls, Idaho, depending on where you’re coming from.
If you need to fly, there are two airports you can fly into: Boise Airport (BOI) or Magic Valley Regional Airport (TWF). Boise Airport is just under 2 hours (126 miles) from Twin Falls, while Magic Valley Airport is about 10 minutes from Twin Falls. However, this airport only has 3 Delta flights a day from Salt Lake City, so it is likely not going to be your most convenient option.
Boise Airport is the largest airport in the state, but still pretty small. Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Southwest, and United fly in and out of Boise, so you have many more options, but will likely still have a connection depending on where you’re coming from.
If you want to drive to Twin Falls, Idaho, here is how far it is from some nearby popular destinations:
- Salt Lake City, UT: 3 hours, 219 miles
- Grand Teton National Park: 4 hours, 254 miles
- Yellowstone National Park: 4 hours, 268 miles
- Bend, OR: 7 hours, 443 miles
- Spokane, WA: 8.5 hours, 551 miles
- Portland, OR: 8.5 hours, 555 miles
- Seattle, WA: 9.5 hours, 619 miles
Getting around Twin Falls
Since Twin Falls, Idaho and the rest of Southern Idaho is a bit more remote from major cities, we’d highly suggest renting a car so you can freely explore the entire region (and other areas of Idaho if you have time!).
One thing we loved about the Twin Falls area is that having a car was super easy. We had no issues parking our giant van anywhere or finding empty spots!
Where to Stay in Twin Falls
As we mentioned before, this guide is going to focus heavily on the Twin Falls, Idaho area, which is the closest “large” town to the majority of the items on our Southern Idaho itinerary and makes for a great home base!
When we visited Southern Idaho, we stayed in our van the entire time at a free overnight parking area, but if you’re not a van dweller like us, here are a handful of options of places to stay in the Twin Falls area!
- Option #1: A Studio with 1 bathroom (pictured above!)
- Option #2: A super unique studio with 1 bathroom
- Option #3: A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house
- Option #4: A 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house
Camping + Glamping
- Miracle Hot Springs Glamping Dome: These domes look pretty cool!
- Miracle Hot Springs Cabins: Want something a bit less nature-y than camping? Check out this cabin!
- Miracle Hot Springs RV or tent camping: They have multiple tent and RV sites on the property as well!
- Castle Rock State Park: This is a little bit of a drive from Twin Falls (1.5 hours each way), but if you want to camp or sleep in a yurt, lodge, or bunkhouse it would be a great spot!
- City of Rocks National Reserve: This spot is also a bit of a trek (1.5 hours to Twin Falls, but right by Castle Rock!), but the campsites and scenery look beautiful!
2 Days in Twin Falls itinerary
In this Twin Falls itinerary we’re not only sharing where to eat and the best things to do in Twin Falls, but the best way to combine it all together into 2 epic days. Looking for extra ideas? Make sure to check out our “if you have extra time” section at the end of this guide!
- Get up early, make some coffee and breakfast, and hit the road!
- Enjoy sunrise at Box Canyon State Park. This park is gorgeous during sunrise and totally worth the early wake up for the views and very few crowds. As you drive through farmland, you definitely don’t expect there to be a canyon, but follow the small sign for Box Canyon and go down to the second parking lot and BAM, there it is!
It costs $5 to visit (there is a small box to put cash) and you can hike down into the canyon where there is a super cool waterfall and crystal clear springs, which is the 11th largest natural spring in the US! We only hiked to the waterfall, which was gorgeous and took maybe 45 minutes round trip from the top.
Note: Box Canyon is a part of the Thousand Springs State Park, which is made up by multiple parks: Malad Gorge, Kelton Trail, Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve, Billingsley Creek, Ritter Island, Crystal Springs, and Niagara Springs.
- Visit Malad Gorge State Park, another park in the Thousand Springs State Park system. It costs $5 to enter (paying this fee here will get you into any Idaho state park for the day) and there are multiple overlooks you can drive to and see.
Our favorite was the Devil’s Washbowl overlook, which has a cool bridge you cross over the gorge, with amazing gorge views. Then you walk along the other side of the gorge to an overlook to see the Devil’s Washbowl, a waterfall that rips through the canyon. If you only have time for one overlook, make sure it’s this one!
Note: The Malad Gorge gates are open 7 days a week from 8 AM to 4 PM.
- If you’re visiting between Memorial Day and Labor Day, head to Ritter Island State Park! This island is home to crystal clear water and multiple waterfalls, including Minnie Miller Falls and Lemon Falls, both of which are gorgeous with multiple falls cascading down tons of greenery. There is also a farm you can wander around (and it’s dog friendly), which we really enjoyed exploring!
Note: This park is only open from 10 AM-3 PM Thursday through Monday between Memorial Day through Labor Day. Ritter Island will be closed beginning September 17, 2020 in order to rebuild the Ritter Island Bridge. They anticipate construction taking until at least mid December.
- We suggest packing a picnic lunch to enjoy during the next activity, but if you want to grab lunch out, get tacos at either Tacos el Korita or Juanita’s Tacos and More.
- Spend the afternoon kayaking Blue Heart Spring. We rented kayaks from Banbury Hot Springs (closed Sundays), but you can also launch your own kayaks there for a fee. It was about an hour paddle each way along the Snake River, with views of Box Canyon along the way.
After rounding a corner past Box Canyon, there is a little rocky cove you can enter to reach Blue Heart Spring. This spring has crystal clear bright blue and green water…it’s incredible! We compared it to the colors of Jolly Ranchers or Gatorade. We spent an hour just enjoying the beautiful scenery before paddling back to Banbury Hot Springs.
- Treat yourself to some post-kayaking ice cream at Cloverleaf Creamery (closed Sundays). We loved every flavor, which they all make in house, but we especially loved the Cowboy Crunch flavor.
- Visit Balanced Rock, which is a wind-carved rock over 48 feet tall and 40 tons and balances precariously on a pedestal only 3 feet by 17 inches. It’s pretty crazy! To get closer to the rock, it’s just a short hike from the parking lot, but it can be a little steep, so make sure to wear good shoes.
- Head back to Twin Falls and have dinner at Scooter’s Chillin’ & Grillin’, a local sports bar with bomb looking sandwiches and burgers, as well as other tasty food.
- Start your morning with breakfast at Yellow Brick Cafe, a cute local cafe with lots of different options, from smoothie bowls, to egg dishes, to toast, and more!
- Grab coffee at Twin Beans, a great coffee shop with some tasty lattes!
- Check out the Perrine Bridge and explore the canyon rim! The Perrine Bridge is an iconic spot in the Twin Falls area. You likely will have driven on it at this point and if you happened to look down while driving across, you may have gasped because the view of the Snake River and canyon is so beautiful!
The bridge is 1500 feet long and a popular spot for base jumpers, so if you’re lucky, you may see some people jumping during your visit. It’s also home to the spot where Evel Knievel attempted to jump the canyon.
We recommend parking at the Twin Falls visitor center and then walking along the trail that goes along the rim for even more views of the canyon!
- Walk behind Perrine Coulee Falls! This was one of our favorite waterfalls in Idaho! This 200 ft waterfall is on the side of the canyon near the Perrine bridge, and is beautiful on its own, but what makes it extra special is that you can walk behind it!
The very short trail to access the falls is off the side of a curve on Canyon Springs road. There is currently construction going on, so parking is extra limited. We saw some people park along the curve, but when we went we parked here and walked up the road.
We saw signs saying people should walk on the left side of the road, but also another sign saying no one should walk on the road, so it was a bit confusing what was allowed, but since it was very early and no one was driving, we walked up the road quickly.
- After exploring the canyon, grab some lunch in Twin Falls. Some options to check out are Emma’s Cafe Restaurant & Market, a Bosnian restaurant (closed Mondays), or Twin Falls Sandwich Company.
- Visit Shoshone Falls, which is nicknamed the Niagara Falls of the West! And at 212 ft tall, it’s actually taller than Niagara Falls. This is one of the most epic waterfalls we have ever seen and one of the best things to do in Twin Falls!
It costs $5 per car to visit between March 1 and September 30 (other times it is free) and there are multiple overlooks to see different angles of the falls. Our favorite is the farthest overlook!
Spring is the best time to visit, as the snow melts and the falls will be raging. However, we have visited at the end of June/early July twice and the flow has been great! In the fall, the falls may seem almost dry because much of it is diverted to refill the nearby reservoir upstream.
This spot is super accessible for all ages and fitness levels and has parking for RVs, so it’s a must visit stop, even if you’re just driving through!
- Continue your waterfall adventure at Cauldron Linn, which is also known as Star Falls. This is one of the most spectacular falls in the area and similar to Shoshone Falls, it’ll be the most epic during the spring as the snow melts, but unlike Shoshone Falls it’s not a developed tourist spot and does not have guardrails (so be careful!) or a fee.
- End your time in Twin Falls with dinner at Elevation 486. This restaurant has absolutely amazing canyon views!
If you have extra time…
Places to Eat
- Hike to Auger Falls, which is a 4 mile loop trail with great views!
- Kayak the 1.5 miles to Pillar Falls, which are cool rock formations with falls between them.
- Explore the City of Rocks National Reserve! This park looks SO cool and has lots of rock formations to check out, as well as camping!
- Visit Craters of the Moon. This is the #1 thing we wanted to do, but didn’t have time for. Located about 1.5 hours from Twin Falls, this National Monument is full of lava fields, cinder cones, and caves to explore.
- Go golfing! We loved the Canyon Springs Golf Course, which costs between $18-$38 a round and has incredible views.
- Hike to Skillern Hot Springs, which is 6 miles round trip. You can camp there as well!
- Explore Tea Kettle Cave, which requires a high clearance vehicle to get out to
- Walk through Black Magic Canyon. Make sure to call in advance to check the conditions. It can be used as a waterway and you don’t want to get trapped in a flash flood!
- Take a tour of Shoshone Ice Caves, which is a large ice cave. It looks super cool!
- Visit the Sawtooth Mountains!
- Take a day trip to Boise, one of our favorite cities.
- Learn about potatoes at the Idaho Potato Museum!
- Hike at Little City of Rocks! This is different than City of Rocks National Reserve, but still has really cool rock formations!
Ready to explore Southern Idaho?
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