NewsIdaho Back Roads


Mesa Falls Scenic Byway is a place travelers can add on a trip to Yellowstone National Park

Posted at 12:00 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 14:00:41-04

Upper Mesa Falls drops 114-feet over volcanic rock, it's born of fire, shaped by water in eastern Idaho near Yellowstone National Park.

"We thought it was beautiful, it was breathtaking," said Emma who came from Ohio to go to school at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg.

Island Park features the longest main street in America, this unique area offers amazing fly fishing, state parks like Harriman and Henry's Lake as well as places to stay as the popular tourist destination is a gateway to Yellowstone.

Upper Mesa Falls is a majestic waterfall that people can get to with a short walk that takes visitors right to the lip of the falls, it's handicapped accessible down to a lookout, but people have to climb stairs to get to the edge.

"We come up here to get away from life," said Mike Baldwin from Logan, Utah. "It is nice to step away and get out of the norm, and be able to relax.”

The Henry's Fork and this area of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is home to several species of birds, including bald eagles, there is an advanced kayaking run the ends at the falls and places to float further up and downstream, just don't go over Upper Mesa Falls, boaters have been known to test their limits on Lower Mesa Falls.

Lower Mesa Falls is a 65-foot waterfall just downstream of Upper Mesa, it is harder to access but people can also hike down to this waterfall or check out the viewpoint along the byway.

"My favorite part about camping up here there's no wi-fi, no internet, no electronics just me and my family just having fun living it up in nature and checking out all the beautiful scenery," said Baldwin.

There is a visitors center at Upper Mesa Falls, the historic Big Falls Inn was built around 1915 by the Snake River Electric Light and Power Company, I didn't have a chance to go inside as I was there after they closed at 5:30 p.m.

It's wild country over there in eastern Idaho, but if you are in the area it is definitely worth a stop to check out both of these waterfalls.

"It’s not like this in Ohio that is for sure," said Greg who was dropping off Emma at college. "It’s tough having a kid 2,000 miles away, but this area is a beautiful place to be."

It does cost five dollars to park at the falls, but that people who visit the nearby state parks don't have to pay, the scenic byway closes in the winter when this region becomes a mecca for snowmobiling and other winter activities.