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Clare
Clare

Day Twenty-one: Twin Falls

We had a slightly later start to the day today, enjoying the breakfast that was included at our hotel. Hotel breakfasts in America seem to vary quite significantly. The oddity of today's offering was a large pile of cheese omelettes, individually wrapped in clingfilm, sitting next to a microwave with instructions about how many minutes to heat them up for. The other thing which made today's breakfast stand out was the fact that it was the first hotel breakfast we've had in America that was served on real plates with real cutlery. Every hotel we've had breakfast in so far - plus the university where we stayed in Raleigh - has served food on paper plates with plastic cutlery, which has all just had to be thrown in the bin at the end of the meal. It's felt very wasteful given how used we are to recycling everything at home!

Our plan for today was to explore southern Idaho, with our first stop being the city of Twin Falls which is situated around 65 miles south of where we are staying in Bellevue. Calling it a city is perhaps a bit ambitious - it's got a population of 50 000 which makes it significantly smaller than Nuneaton - but it's the 8th biggest town in Idaho, so quite a metropolis for these parts.

We were actually driving to a place called Shoshone Falls, which is a few miles outside the centre of Twin Falls, and where I was hoping we would see a waterfall which was more exciting than the one we saw in Idaho Falls yesterday. The area around the waterfall is owned by the town authorities in Twin Falls, so we had to pay a $5 entrance fee to park.

As we parked we saw that there was a coach already in the car park and we couldn't help but notice that the tourists it had brought to the falls were dressed in a rather unusual manner.

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There were lots of women, all dressed very similarly in long blue dresses with white bonnets. It felt a bit like we'd stepped into an episode of the Handmaid's Tale!

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No idea what religion they belonged to. We thought perhaps Amish, but would they have travelled on a coach? Not sure!

Anyway, the waterfall which we'd come to see is located within the Snake River Canyon. This is the same Snake River that we'd seen in Grand Teton National Park a couple of days ago.

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I was relieved to see when we looked in the opposite direction down the canyon that the waterfall actually had water in it.

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There is a dam higher up the river which diverts water away from the falls for use in irrigation.

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We were lucky that they were releasing some water today and we got to see a part of the waterfall. In spring, when the water levels are at their highest, water flows over the entire area of these rocks creating a much larger waterfall.

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The waterfall is so impressive at its peak that it's sometimes known as the Niagara of the West!

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We followed a few short trails from the car park which gave us views further down the canyon...

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...and towards the top of the waterfalls.

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Then we jumped back in the car and drove towards another view point.

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This was the start of a path known as the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail, which starts just outside Twin Falls and gives great views out over the canyon.

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It was a nice easy path to walk along, even though the day was starting to get warm.

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Before too long we came to a viewpoint from where we could see Perrine Coulee Falls.

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This is one of the tallest waterfalls in Idaho, with a drop of nearly 200 ft.

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Once we passed the waterfall, we got closer to Perrine Bridge. We'd driven over this on our way into Twin Falls this morning, but it was more impressive from a distance than it had been when we were on it.

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The view was interesting in the opposite direction too. The green grass which you can see below is a golf course, which was obviously being intensively watered. The remaining yellow area is the natural colour of grass in Idaho that isn't being watered.

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We were hungry by this point so we went to get some lunch in Twin Falls, before driving towards our next destination: Box Canyon State Park. After about half an hour of driving, we found the car park I'd marked on my map and paid $7 to enter the state park. There was a short walk of around 0.5 miles to find the canyon, but on first impressions it didn't look very promising.

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We appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, making our way through endless fields.

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After what felt like much more than 0.5 miles, we made it to a viewpoint overlooking the canyon.

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It would perhaps have looked more impressive if we'd come here before visiting the Grand Canyon and Black Canyon of the Gunnison!

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It was pretty though and the water was a lovely shade of blue.

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There was a trail you could follow down to the bottom of the canyon, but it looked like it would be a long way to climb back up. We didn't fancy that, so we got back in the car and drove for another hour or so to our final destination of the day: Bruneau Dunes State Park.

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As we drove along the entrance road to the park we got our first view of the large sand dunes that the park is named after.

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Hoping to get some better views we parked the car and began walking on a trail towards the dunes.

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It wasn't a very enjoyable trail - through unending scrubby grass - and it was incredibly hot by this point in the mid afternoon.

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After we'd been walking for a while without making any noticeable progress towards the dunes, we decided to call it a day and give up!

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So this was as close to the giant sand dunes as we got! But they really are very big - the largest is 140m high, which makes it the tallest single-structure sand dune in North America.

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After Bruneau Dunes, we had a drive of around 1.5 hours to get back to our base in Bellevue.

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It was a pretty drive, through gently hilly countryside. Idaho really does seem to have a lot of different landscapes!

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Tomorrow we'll hopefully be seeing some more natural beauty as we drive north towards the Sawtooth Mountains :) 




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