New facility for visitors creates attractive gateway to region
The Southern Idaho welcome just got warmer with the opening of a new Twin Falls Visitor Center in 2015.
The primary goal of the new facility is to better inform visitors and also inspire them to spend more time in Southern Idaho than they’d perhaps initially planned. The one-story, 5,000-square-foot building acts as a gateway to the entire region, showcasing all the attractions and amenities it has to offer.
“For many years, we operated a quaint, 600-square-foot visitor center on this same property overlooking the Snake River Canyon, but the old center only operated on a seasonal basis from March to October,” says Shawn Barigar, president and CEO of the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. “However, our tourism numbers continue to rise, and more people arrive to vacation in Southern Idaho throughout the entire year, so we’ve needed a new center for quite a while. Now, we have a beautiful one that is open 12 months a year.”
More Space for Storytelling
The new facility sits on the edge of Snake River Canyon near Perrine Bridge, and the interior of the building includes chamber of commerce offices, Southern Idaho Tourism offices, an expanded gift shop and interpretive center for visitors to learn about the region.
“There is exhibit space to highlight the many recreational opportunities available in Southern Idaho, including whitewater rafting in Hagerman, fishing on the Snake River, rock climbing at City of Rocks National Reserve, and spelunking at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve,” Barigar says. “Also on hand are displays celebrating the agricultural heritage of this region along with the rich archeological history of Southern Idaho.”
Great First Impression
Debbie Dane, executive director of Southern Idaho Tourism, says the local tourism industry continues to gain momentum and is destined to become a major economic force.
“The visitor center is at the north entrance to Twin Falls, but we will heavily promote all of Southern Idaho from that location,” she says. “The building gives visitors an immediate good feeling about our region, with lots of glass to offer people great views of Snake River Canyon and Perrine Bridge. This facility gives tourists an excellent first impression of Southern Idaho.”
Barigar says the decision to build a new visitor center occurred in late 2013 when the chamber board realized that the old 600-square-foot building could no longer accommodate all the tourism traffic.
“I anticipate that tens of thousands of people will walk through the doors of the new facility during the first year, and those numbers will only grow as more and more visitors learn about the recreational opportunities we have in Southern Idaho,” he says. “It’s nice to have the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Southern Idaho Tourism headquartered at such a visible, scenic location.”