Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
100.00 ft (30.48 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Malad River begins in the mountains of central Idaho, and carves through layers of volcanic basalt on its way to join the Snake River in the southern plains of the state. Where it cuts beneath Interstate 84, the gorge is close to 100 feet deep, and it gets only more dramatic from there. If you’re driving westbound and paying attention (don’t blink!), you’ll glimpse vertical walls and a sliver of water as you drive across a bridge near the exit for Tuttle. Get off at this exit to explore further, and find this hike within a unit of Thousand Springs State Park.

After navigating through the small town of Tuttle, which is mostly farm fields, you’ll pass the state park entrance station (fee required) and find the signed parking for “Devils Washbowl.” This lot is right next to the interstate, and leads to a footbridge over the gorge. As semi trucks rumble overhead, a waterfall tumbles below. From the bridge you’ll overlook the falls and peer through the narrow upper gorge. Turn around to see the lower gorge expand in breadth as the walls grow taller, and the river ambles on down. You may see a ribbon of cascading water in the distance––another waterfall fed by irrigation canals.

To get a better view of that waterfall and more of the gorge, continue across the bridge to where a paved path leads through the sagebrush. You’ll soon reach a viewpoint with interpretive signs, explaining some geology of the landscape. Beyond there the pavement disappears, and the trail turns into a worn dirt path, soon finding even better viewpoints on the rocky canyon rim. It remains a casual stroll, but comes very near the edge in some places. Keep a close eye on small children and dogs.

Go a bit farther to where the path crosses over a narrowing peninsula of rock, and you’ll suddenly gaze down upon a natural spring pool of sparkling, clear water hemmed by leafy vegetation. This is one of many outlets of the Snake River Aquifer, which supplements the year-round flow of the Malad River. Follow the path a bit farther and you’ll reach a spit of rock overlooking a hydroelectric dam. This is at the point where two gorges come together––one of the rivers and the other of the spring. It’s quite a dramatic perch, and well worth the walk in the scalding sun of Southern Idaho.

If visiting in the summer, it’s best to hike here very early in the day. During the colder seasons, you’ll want a day that’s sunny and free of wind. This hike is very exposed to the elements, and the vertical cliffs make it impossible to reach any shade on a hot day, or shelter on a cold day. It’s a convenient stop along the interstate, however, and you don’t have to venture far from your vehicle to see the waterfalls or the impressive rock walls.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall
Summer
Winter

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Entrance Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Deep gorge. Waterfalls. Easy stop along the freeway.

Cons

Sun and heat. No trail into the gorge.

Trailhead Elevation

3,270.00 ft (996.70 m)

Highest point

3,270.00 ft (996.70 m)

Features

Family friendly
Near lake or river
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Magic Valley + Shoshone Area, Idaho

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