Adela Garibay

Adela Garibay

Published: 13 Sep 2023


Welcome to the mesmerizing world of Upper Mesa Falls! Nestled in the heart of breathtaking natural beauty in Idaho, Upper Mesa Falls is a captivating landmark that never fails to leave visitors in awe. With its towering cascades and breathtaking vistas, this majestic waterfall is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. But there’s more to Upper Mesa Falls than meets the eye. In this article, we will uncover 18 intriguing facts about this enchanting landmark, shedding light on its geological significance, unique features, and the fascinating history that surrounds it. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the intriguing world of Upper Mesa Falls.

Table of Contents

The Majestic Height

Standing at a towering height of 114 feet, Upper Mesa Falls is truly a sight to behold. Its thundering cascades and misty spray create a breathtaking spectacle that leaves visitors in awe.

The Tectonic Origins

Upper Mesa Falls was formed roughly 1.3 million years ago as a result of intense volcanic activity. It is situated along the Henrys Fork Caldera, an ancient volcanic crater that adds to the allure of the area.

The Scenic Location

Nestled within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Upper Mesa Falls boasts a picturesque setting surrounded by dense forests, rugged canyons, and diverse wildlife. It offers a serene and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The Untouched Wilderness

Unlike many other waterfalls, Upper Mesa Falls has remained unaltered by human interference. Its pristine beauty and natural surroundings provide a genuine sense of wildness and untouched wilderness.

The Geological Wonder

The unique geological formations surrounding Upper Mesa Falls contribute to its extraordinary appeal. Basalt columns, formed by lava cooling at different rates, create a striking backdrop for the cascading water.

The Salmon River Connection

Upper Mesa Falls is located on the Yellowstone Plateau and is the only major waterfall along the course of the Salmon River. It serves as a significant landmark within the river’s ecosystem.

The Power of the Falls

With an average flow rate of over 50,000 gallons per second, Upper Mesa Falls showcases the immense power of nature. The thunderous roar and turbulent waters are a testament to its strength.

The Adventurous Rafting Opportunities

For thrill-seekers and water sports enthusiasts, Upper Mesa Falls offers exciting whitewater rafting adventures. The challenging rapids downstream provide an adrenaline-pumping experience amidst the breathtaking scenery.

The Rich Cultural History

The land surrounding Upper Mesa Falls holds great cultural significance to the Native American tribes of the Shoshone-Bannock and Nez Perce. The area is considered sacred and has a deep historical connection.

The Interpretive Site

A dedicated interpretive site near the falls provides visitors with information about the geology, flora, fauna, and cultural history of the area. It offers a deeper understanding of Upper Mesa Falls and its importance.

The Magnificent Viewing Platform

A well-constructed viewing platform offers a safe and breathtaking vantage point to admire the grandeur of Upper Mesa Falls up close. Visitors can marvel at the waterfall’s dramatic descent and feel the mist on their skin.

The Wildlife Haven

Upper Mesa Falls is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including bald eagles, elk, moose, and various bird species. Explorers can keep their eyes peeled for these magnificent creatures during their visit.

The Hiking Trails

There are several scenic hiking trails in the vicinity of Upper Mesa Falls, allowing visitors to further immerse themselves in the surrounding natural beauty. From leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes, there’s an option for everyone.

The Winter Wonderland

During the winter months, Upper Mesa Falls transforms into a magical winter wonderland. The frozen cascades and glistening ice formations create a captivating scene that is truly enchanting.

The Spectacular Sunsets

As the day comes to an end, Upper Mesa Falls treats visitors to breathtaking sunsets. The warm hues reflecting off the waterfall create a mesmerizing ambiance that is perfect for capturing memorable photographs.

The Lower Mesa Falls

Just a short distance downstream from Upper Mesa Falls, visitors can discover another enchanting waterfall known as Lower Mesa Falls. It offers a different perspective and is equally captivating in its own right.

The Photography Paradise

For photographers, Upper Mesa Falls is a true paradise. Whether capturing the raw power of the waterfall, the surrounding landscapes, or the abundant wildlife, every angle is a potential masterpiece waiting to be framed.

The Overwhelming Serenity

A visit to Upper Mesa Falls is not just about admiring its beauty, but also experiencing a sense of calm and serenity. The tranquility of the area washes over visitors, leaving them feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Overall, Upper Mesa Falls is a natural gem that showcases the awe-inspiring beauty of the great outdoors. With its towering height, untouched wilderness, and rich cultural history, it is a destination that truly captivates the imagination. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, Upper Mesa Falls is a must-see wonder that will leave a lasting impression.


Upper Mesa Falls is truly a natural gem with its breathtaking beauty and fascinating history. From the roaring waterfall to the diverse wildlife, there is no shortage of wonders to explore. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, or simply someone looking for a tranquil escape in nature, Upper Mesa Falls has something for everyone. So, pack your bags, prepare your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to Upper Mesa Falls. You won’t be disappointed.


1. How tall is Upper Mesa Falls?

Upper Mesa Falls stands at an impressive height of 114 feet (35 meters), making it one of the tallest waterfalls in Idaho.

2. Can I swim in Upper Mesa Falls?

No, swimming is not allowed at Upper Mesa Falls due to strong currents and dangerous conditions near the base of the waterfall.

3. Is there an entrance fee to visit Upper Mesa Falls?

No, there is no entrance fee to visit Upper Mesa Falls. It is open to the public and accessible free of charge.

4. Are there any hiking trails near Upper Mesa Falls?

Yes, there are several hiking trails in the area surrounding Upper Mesa Falls, offering beautiful views and opportunities to explore the wilderness.

5. Is Upper Mesa Falls accessible for wheelchair users?

While there might be limited accessibility options, Upper Mesa Falls does have a wheelchair-accessible viewing platform that provides a stunning view of the waterfall.

6. Can I visit Upper Mesa Falls in the winter?

Yes, Upper Mesa Falls can be visited in the winter. However, the conditions may be icy and slippery, so it’s important to take proper precautions and dress appropriately.

7. Are there any picnic areas near Upper Mesa Falls?

Yes, there are picnic areas available near Upper Mesa Falls, allowing visitors to enjoy a meal while immersing themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

8. Are pets allowed at Upper Mesa Falls?

Yes, pets are allowed at Upper Mesa Falls, but they must be kept on a leash at all times and cleaned up after.