Mesa Falls - Cross Country Ski, Hike, and Kayak near Ashton, Idaho
Upper Mesa Falls Rd, Ashton, ID 83420, USA,Ashton,Idaho
44.188281856371084, -111.32761716842651
10.0 miles NE of Ashton, Idaho
Address: Upper Mesa Falls Rd, Ashton, ID 83420, USA
GPS: 44°11'17.8"N 111°19'39.4"W
Maps | Directions
State: Idaho
Trail Length: 0.20 miles
Trail Type: Loop
Hike Difficulty: Beginner
Elevation Gain: 100 feet

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Cross Country Ski, Hike, and Kayak

Upper Mesa Falls, aka Big Falls, is an absolutely awesome waterfall on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River. The falls drop 114 ft. and measure 300 ft. across. To get to the falls from the parking lot is 0.2 miles of paved walkway and several sturdy stairs with plenty of gaurdrails and handrails. There are several platforms along the route for viewing and taking photos. Catch it in the morning to see the rainbows in the lingering mist that often rises well above the platforms. There's a wheelchair accessible path that can get a pretty good view of the falls but does not go right down to it.

Lower Mesa Falls is about a mile down river from the Upper Falls. There's two great viewing options. One is from a cliff hovering 200 feet above the falls and the other is from the the Observation Site sitting 0.25 miles away and almost 500 feet above the falls. To get to the cliff above the falls, there's a trailhead on the South East end of the main parking lot. The trail is 1 mile each way (2 mile out and back) with about a 100 ft. difference in elevation (about the same as the stairs the the Upper Falls platforms). The trail goes through the woods well away from the river itself but there are no guardrails at the end when you're peering over the edge of the cliffs to see the waterfall. To see the falls from the observation site is free and the walk from your car to the lookout is only about 500 ft.

This is an Idaho State Park and there are day use fees. Passes have reciprocity with Harriman State Park which is only about 20 minutes away. Get there before 5pm to check out the old inn which has been transformed into a fun and informative visitor's center.

Be courteous, informed, and prepared. Read trailhead guidelines, stay on the trail, and don't feed the wildlife.

Read More
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors


From Ashton, Idaho

  1. Head east on ID-47 N/Main St toward S 6th St
    Continue to follow ID-47 N
    (12.4 mi)
  2. Continue onto Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (2.5 mi)
  3. Turn left onto Upper Mesa Falls Rd (0.7 mi)
  4. Slight left (0.1 mi)
  5. Turn right
    Destination will be on the right
    (381 ft)

From Ashton, drive north on Hwy 47 for about 15 miles to the signed turnoff for Upper Mesa Falls (0.7 miles past Lower Mesa Falls lookout).

From West Yellowstone, drive south for 35 miles on Hwy 20 to Hwy 47 (signed for Mesa Falls). Drive about 13 miles on Hwy 47 to the signed turnoff for Upper Mesa Falls. 

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Guest Review/Comments

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5/1/18 11:54 am 4/8/18


9/6/17 2:25 pm 6/28/14
The first time I went to Mesa Falls, I was on a big roadtrip with my family around various sites near Idaho. I remember being struck by the beautiful rainbows we saw coming off of the mist of the waterfalls. When I moved up to Idaho to attend college, I was able to return with a roommate, who was leading a hike to the lower falls. I'd forgotten the name of the site from my first visit, but was overjoyed to see the waterfalls and misty rainbows again. The hike down to see the Lower Falls was pretty easy, and it was so neat to see the other waterfall, since they are so close together!


8/11/17 8:30 am


6/26/17 12:48 pm 6/24/17
Took the trail down to the Lower Falls for the first time. It's an easy trail for sure and it was fun seeing the falls from so much closer.


4/13/17 3:55 pm
I love this waterfall. The paved paths are perfect for walking. There are a lot of stairs so it's definitely a baby-backpack kind of site, and not a stroller site. Once our car died in the parking lot, and there is no cell service up in that forest. Be careful!


4/11/17 11:18 am 11/5/16
This is one of those places we have to take anyone who visits from out of town. It's quick, easy, and breathtaking. There were very few others here when we went in November but we did go just after the lodge closed as well.


6/22/15 5:22 pm
Mesa Falls is my Go-To place. I try to go as often as possible, any season is beautiful there. The current walkways and fences make it very family friendly, not like it was when I was a child!
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Upper Falls courtesy of endovereric Upper Falls courtesy of endovereric↗
Lower Falls Zoomed Lower Falls Zoomed Day Use Fees courtesy of endovereric Day Use Fees courtesy of endovereric↗ Lower Mesa from Observation Site courtesy of endovereric Lower Mesa from Observation Site courtesy of endovereric↗ Lower Mesa Falls From Trail courtesy of endovereric Lower Mesa Falls From Trail courtesy of endovereric↗ Autumn At Upper Mesa Falls courtesy of Aaron Couch Autumn At Upper Mesa Falls courtesy of Aaron Couch↗ Autumn At Lower Mesa Falls courtesy of Aaron Couch Autumn At Lower Mesa Falls courtesy of Aaron Couch↗ Upper Mesa Falls, Filmed by Drone by Day Frog Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, Eastern Idaho by Gary O. Grimm Mesa Falls Kayaking by Pfin06 Lower Mesa Falls by Carson Kuehne

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