MURTAUGH - Shoshone Falls isn't the only need-to-visit destination in the Magic Valley. Before water in the mighty Snake River reaches those falls it first makes a spectacular display at Cauldron Linn, near Murtaugh.
Caldron Linn - also known as Star Falls - is a lesser-known but favored spot along the river for visitors seeking the best in desert canyon scenery.
To get to the falls, created by the Snake's forced passage through an area less than 40 feet wide, visitors must first meander around towering sagebrush and river rock scattered along the land. But a well-worn dirt path makes it easy to explore. All along the path the falls offer a roaring welcome.
Before you know it the sagebrush gives way to the canyon rim - and then, Cauldron Linn. Mist soars as the river slams the towering basalt.
Though Todd Okelberry grew up near Caldron Linn, the current Kimberly resident said he was surprised to see the number of cars coming from and going to the falls during a recent visit to the site.
"I've never seen this many people down here before. Usually it tops out at six cars," he said. "But this much water, it is a rare occurrence."
Okelberry said he likes the untouched nature of Caldron Linn, which likely appears much as it did when explorers and members of the Oregon Trail passed through the area.
The Astorians, an expedition group heading west after Lewis and Clark, lost a man after a canoe capsized in the unforgiving rapids. (Linn is a term from Scotland, where some of the party's explorers were from.)
"There is history here," Okelberry said.
Falls aside, the area is a great place to spendan afternoon, said Okelberry's sister, Katy Okelberry.
"We live like two miles away, so this is just part of our growing up. It's kind of a nice Sunday drive thing," she said.
The bass fishing, slightly up river and easily accessible on foot, is par none, as is the swimming and family-friendly recreation - once the water calms, of course.
With shallow areas and sandbars even kids can get their feet wet, Todd Okelberry said.
Two miles below Caldron Linn the whitewater rapids are some of the best in the country. During spring flows it is a solid Class 4+/5- with 16 major rapids in 14 miles and the river drops 25 feet per mile.
Shay Wieringa came from Salt Lake City to put in his kayak along this stretch of the Snake.
"It was sick. It's pretty rare to get water this high," he said. "Definitely worth the drive."
Visiting Caldron Linn isn't for the weak of heart, and it is imperative to keep your children secure: the falls aren't developed, there is no safety rail or concrete walkway along the falls. Using caution, common sense and wearing hiking shoes are important.
You won't find a parking lot, entry fees or a waiting line at Cauldron Linn, but you just might find plenty of adventure.
Blair Koch may be reached at 208-316-2607 or email@example.com.
From Interstate 84 take exit 188 and travel south on Valley Road. Turn left onto 1000 East, and one mile later turn right onto 1900 South (also known as Murtaugh Road) until you get to 4575 East Then follow the signs.
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