Printed on: March 04, 2013

Officials look to improve Shoshone Falls experience

Tetona Dunlap
Twin Falls Times News

TWIN FALLS -- If you are new to the area, a visit to Shoshone Falls Park may be on your list.

At 212 feet tall and 900 feet wide, the falls is heralded as the "Niagara of the West," and the park offers various views and photo opportunities.

And if you're local, you might find yourself at nearby Dierkes Lake enjoying a dip in the waters during the warmer months or a day of rock climbing or bouldering.

Whether you are a visitor or resident - Shoshone Falls and Dierkes Lake attract more than 300,000 visitors each year - Dennis Bowyer hopes you keep coming back and discovering there is more to the area than just the falls.

To make sure you do, some potential changes may improve your experience when visiting Shoshone Falls or Dierkes Lake. Recently Bowyer, director of the Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Department, formed a subcommittee of four to re-examine master plans from 1991 and 1997.

Some of the improvements that resulted from these master plans included the parking lot near the overlook in Shoshone Falls Park and the ticket booth at the entrance.

Now the subcommittee is looking at what wasn't done, Bowyer said, and answering the question: Is it still viable today?

So far they have met only once, last month, with plans to gather at Shoshone Park and Dierkes Lake and take a tour this month.

Some of the projects that have been discussed:

 Restoring and clearing out brush from the stone staircase near the Kiwanis Nook. "It's a real neat place. That's one of the things people probably don't know is there," Bowyer said.

 Deciding whether Shoshone Falls Park needs picnic shelters installed. "It's already a really shady area down there; is there a need?" Bowyer said.

 Electricity at the north and south picnic tables at the second parking loop. The subcommittee has also discussed adding restrooms to these two areas; the nearest ones are next to the Shoshone Falls overlook.

 Installing a fishing dock that is ADA-accessible at Dierkes Lake, away from swimming areas. Bowyer said he hasn't heard complaints of fishing hooks in the water, but there has been tangled fishing line.

 An amphitheater at Dierkes Lake has been brought up, but Bowyer said the group will look into whether this is the best location. Another spot? Possibly Auger Falls. Bowyer said this also brings up the discussion of whether the city is the best entity to pursue this project or perhaps another group in the community.

 Roadwork on the upper road. Minor patch work has been done here and there, but Bowyer said maybe it is time to look at rebuilding the road.

 Adding additional viewpoints of Shoshone Falls and the Snake River Canyon along Centennial Trail.

 Mounting a webcam to a tower near Shoshone Falls so people can view the water flow to pick the best day to visit.

 Building a trail, with stairs near the RV parking that connects Shoshone Falls Park and Dierkes Lake.

Creating a trail to connect the two areas is a particular favorite of subcommittee member Tennille Adams of Twin Falls.

"Everyone has to drive to get from Shoshone Falls to Dierkes Lake. There is a slight path, but there is a drop-off; we need an official trail," Adams said.

Adams would also like to see widening of the road leading down into the two parks.

"It's hard to park there during family events," Adams said.

Providing electricity to the picnic areas is also high on Adams' list of priorities.

"Shoshone Falls and Dierkes Lake are wonderful assets to the community," Adams said. "There's a lot of possibilities to enhance what we got."