Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

The Mesa Falls Scenic Byway was established in 1989. Traveling on State Highway 47 from Ashton, the Byway provides motorists with a breathtaking view of the Teton Mountain Range emphasized by the Grand Teton Peaks. The route continues along the Henry's Fork of the Snake River to its confluence with Warm River and Robinson Creek where a viewing platform allows visitors to feed fish in the stream. No fishing is permitted in this area.

The Byway forms a loop through Warm River Gorge and rejoins U.S. Highway 20 at Harriman State Park. An abandoned Union Pacific Railroad tunnel built in 1909 is visible above Bear Gulch. Upper and Lower Mesa Falls undoubtedly provide the most spectacular scenery along the Byway. During the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a beautiful stone overlook, which provides a panoramic view of both the Upper and Lower Fails. Formerly private land, the Upper Mesa Falls area went into public ownership under a land exchange in 1985.

Bear Gulch
This ski area is located 7 miles northeast of Ashton on Mesa Falls Forest Highway 47. The trail parallels the snowmobile trail out to the spectacular Lower and Upper Mesa falls. The trail then branches away from the snowmobile trail and travels along the canyon rim, then returns to the trailhead. This trail is recommended for intermediate and advanced skiers because of the steep climb in the first mile. The trail is nearly 9 miles long and is groomed periodically when funding and weather conditions permit.

Upper and Lower Mesa Falls
Not far off Highway 47, the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, beyond Ashton on the Targhee National Forest, you can hear the thunder of both Lower and Upper Mesa Falls. These are two of the last undisturbed waterfalls of consequence in the west. Lower Mesa Falls is easily seen at the Grandview Campground and Overlook. The cataract is a feature of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River where the river is squeezed into a gorge that drops 65 feet. This secluded spot along the Henry's Fork offers excellent trout fishing and camping. Upriver you can hear the waters of Upper Mesa Falls pounding on the rocks. To get there, follow the highway north of the Grandview Campground and Overlook approximately 3/4 mile to a paved road on the left side. These glassy waters froth to mist in an even higher 11-story plunge (114 feet). Recently, new facilities such as paved parking and paths, accessible restrooms and trails, boardwalks and viewing platforms have been constructed.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 10 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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