Explore the silent city of Idaho |  idahofallsmagazine.com

Explore the silent city of Idaho | idahofallsmagazine.com

Tired of the hustle and bustle? From our thriving small town? Idaho Falls Chaotic congestion may not be for SLC or Boys, but we should all still delve into the quiet corners of nature when possible, especially in early fall. The world-famous City of Rocks National Preserve is one of the area’s most attractive gems, located 160 miles southwest near the Idaho and Utah border.

called “silent city“By wayward travelers on California Trail, it is a breathtaking sight to behold for landscape photography. It also serves as an entertainment hotspot for adventurers of all stripes.


According to the National Park Service, the city of rocksThe strange terrain was born from the extension of the earth’s crust and the erosion of exposed granite rock. The resulting geological anomaly is interesting as the names of its components indicate:

Peeling joints: The long fractions that control the shape and distribution of the towers
my phone: Holes and depressions that form on the lower sides of rock masses
bows: Elongated protuberances are mostly found in the central part of the reserve
mouths: Circular depressions are found on flat or gently sloping rocks
Intrusions: Magma that slowly compresses into whatever cracks or voids it can find
Xenoliths: Rocks that are encapsulated by large boulders during the evolution of larger rocks
Gross: Granite sand crumbs formed by physical weathering

Most of the granite towers of the underworld consist of rocks that are 28 million years old, but some of the reserve’s formations are much older, even by geological standards. Some of them are estimated to be 2.5 billion years old, making them among the oldest rocks in the West United State.

Despite its grandeur, the estate is actually quite modest at 14,400 acres. However, it has grown steadily over the years. Last summer, for example, NPS acquired an additional 22 acres located along the city Rocks Backcountry Byway Between Register Rock and Elephant Rock.

Meet the locals

Outside of the formations, the area is also known for its biodiversity.

According to the NPS, mammals that frequent the 14,400-acre property include mule deer, mountain cottontails, black-tailed rabbits, yellow-bellied marmots, and chipmunks. Mountain lions, cats, wolves, moose, and elk are unlikely to be seen. Also be on the lookout for fence lizards, rattlesnakes, and any of the 180 species of birds spotted here. Then there are of course the two-legged creatures.

Native American settlements in the area date back thousands of years, and are mostly made up of roving bands of hunters and gatherers from the Shoshone and Bannock tribes. (If time permits, be sure to check out the photos shown nearby fort rocks state park.) The paths they traversed around and through the area were later used by westbound migrants—some of whom engraved their names on the rocks where they camped.

In the early 1900s, some of these bystanders tried to plant roots in the area — literally. Agriculture in the drylands was a failure, thanks to poor soil and water scarcity. However, to this day, the surrounding land is used as an open area for cattle and sheep. By the 1960s, the property was already attracting the attention of tourists. Within a decade, it had become especially popular among rock climbers. By the late 1980s, it became clear that management would be needed to help protect historical sites and recreational resources. In 1988, Congress designated the city rocks as a national reserve.

Auto travel tips

Once you are armed with the right amount of literature, fun facts, and backstory, what better way to experience this amazing lost world? The options are many. If you’re up for a commute challenge like Yours Truly, the trip is still worth the time and expense.

Once you enter the reserve, you will see a detour into Circle Creek Overlook, which can offer some amazing views along the way to Ber River mountains. Moreover, consider a quick stop at camp Stone Or the Rock Record to see signatures left by early track users from the mid-1800s.

And you continue along

rock city road

Chances are good that you’ll spot climbers at Elephant Rock, Bath Rock, and the Morning Glory Spire viewing point. For the perfect spot for a picnic, NPS suggests pulling out at the Bread Loaves monolith in Emery Pass Picnic Area.

Walking in the rocks

You want to hoof it? The reserve offers paths from short and easy to long and hard, depending on your abilities and goals.

The shortest and easiest is really just 250 feet to get to the Window Arch. You can also have an easy time with the quarter-mile Bath Rock Trail, which winds around its namesake rock formation. According to NPS City of Rocks literature: “Adventurous visitors can climb the back side of Bath Rock where the handles are clamped along the steepest part of the climb. Legend has it that bathing in the ‘bathtub’ on top of the rock before sunrise will restore youth to old age.”

On the other end of the spectrum are challenging rides like a 5.8-mile city rock ring. A favorite of local rangers, a remote hike takes you deep into a rocky landscape of rarely seen formations and epic views. It’s incredibly narrow, sloping and surrounded by uneven terrain, but by all accounts, it’s the best way to see the city in all its country glory. Depending on the altitude, average high temperatures in September hover around a mild 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Clear skies and calm conditions are also typical.

scaling to new heights

If there is one group of people who really love a city rocksIt’s the international community of rock climbers. magic city rocks It has grown closely with the sport itself, starting with the Steinfell Club in the early 1960s.

According to NPS, “The characteristics of the granite rock formations made the reserve a city rocks Mecca is world famous among climbers. There are more than 600 routes here, both traditional and sporty. Climbing varies from 30 to 600 feet, rating from 5.6 relatively easy to 5.14 very difficult.”

Climbing guidebooks to all of the city rocks and Castle Rocks are available at the visitor center.

The NPS literature states that “climb is managed, and permit is required before permanent anchors can be placed”. “Otherwise, visitors are free to climb the existing roads, or just scramble around them. Be aware of the private grounds within the reserve as well as rock closures along California Road. Some rocks and roads are closed seasonally for nesting birds of prey.”

Glimpse of the city of rocks

Designation: US National Reserve
near Almo in the province of Cassia
Travel distance:
158 miles from Idaho Falls
travel time:
2 hours and 23 minutes Size: 14400 acres
entry fee:
No phone: 208-824-5901

For more information, including permit information about campgrounds, rock climbing, and horseback riding, visit the Rock City web page at www.nps.gov. You can also reach the visitor center by phone at 208-824-5901.
Material Source: National Park Service

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