In 1974, Evel Knievel set out to launch himself across the vast Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho, on a customized rocket. The ramp remains today as a monument to the legendary daredevil’s daring attempt.
When he was eight years old, Robert Craig Knievel attended an auto daredevil show, which he said inspired him to become a motorcycle daredevil. Over the course of his career, Knievel attempted more than 75 increasingly difficult motorcycle jumps. In the 1960s he proposed jumping across the Grand Canyon but could not get permission for the stunt.
While flying home from a tour in 1971, Knievel saw the Snake River Canyon through the airplane window, and began planning a grand event. He leased 300 acres of land just east of Twin Falls and began preparing. Knievel hired engineers Doug Malewicki and Robert Truax to build a rocket-powered bike, dubbed the Skycycle, capable of making the 1,600-foot jump. After the first test run saw the cycle crash, they began working on the Skycycle X-2, a new model built more like an airplane than a motorcycle.
The jump took place on September 8, 1974. But Knievel’s parachute deployed just after launch and, instead of completing the jump, he and the rocket floated to the canyon floor. Fans around the globe watched closed-circuit broadcasts in movie theaters, while ABC’s Wide World of Sports aired the event a few weeks later.
Knievel died in 2007 at the age of 69, having retired from stunt jumps in the late 1970s, but his legend remains. So does the site from which he attempted to cross the Snake River Canyon. The large, earthen berm that supported Knievel’s launch apparatus sits on the canyon’s south rim, approximately one and a half miles east of Twin Falls’ Perrine Memorial Bridge. Fans can climb to the berm’s top to gain Knievel’s pre-jump perspective of the Snake River Canyon.
Know Before You Go
Twin Falls is located approximately a mile south of Interstate 84 in southern Idaho. There are two ways to access the jump site. Visitors can drive to a small parking area at the base of the berm. From Falls Avenue, head due north on Hankins Road for approximately 1.5 miles, making a slight, left-hand turn at a gated neighborhood and proceeding along a dirt road to a marked parking lot.
Otherwise, starting just west of the Perrine Bridge, a paved trail parallels the canyon's south rim from the Twin Falls Visitors' Center (2015 Nielsen Point Place, Twin Falls, ID, 83301). The visitors center has abundant parking, dramatic canyon views, and easy access to the Perrine Bridge. Passing a monument to Knievel's launch in the parking lot, visitors walk east under the Perrine Bridge and proceed approximately 1.5 miles to the jump site.