Sunday, July 03, 2011

City of Rocks National Reserve

This unique geologic area became a landmark in 1843 for California bound emigrants. A few granite pinnacles and monoliths are in excess of sixty stories tall and 2.5 billion years old. The smooth granite faces offer exceptional rock climbing.

The Reserve boasts Idaho's champion pinyon pines, at more than 55 feet. City of Rocks pinyon pine forest is the northern most extension into Idaho. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring and summer months. The diverse habitat of the reserve supports a large variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates.


The landscape of City of Rocks has been sculpted from granite that was intruded into the crust during two widely spaced times. The granite that composes most of the spires is part of the 28 million year old Almo pluton. However, some of the spires are made of granite that is part of the 2.5 billion year old Green Creek Complex, and contains some of the oldest rocks in the western United States.

California bound wagon trains (1843-1882) left Raft River Valley and travelled through this area and over Granite Pass. Names and initials of emigrants written in axle grease are still visible. Emigrants consistently referred to the city as one of the memorable scenic wonders of a phenomenal journey: "This is one of the greatest curiosities on the road" wrote Eliza Ann McAuley in 1852.

A short drive through the reserve taking pictures and thoroughly enjoying the sights of the rocks. Just imagining what it was right for the wagon trains going through this. We used our imaginations to guess what the rocks looked like to us. I saw one that reminded me of Jabba the Hutt. The wildflowers were still abundant, as this has been a wet cold year.

We found another side trip to take. This was definitely a dirt road that had not seen much use. So off we went. Well, make this our second road we had to turn around due to a snow drift. Better safe than sorry. As we were headed down the road, there were several 4WD vehicles headed up. We stopped them and explained about the drift. Guess they decided they could go through. Well, there was like 4 of them and the drivers were all young men.

We headed down the mountain towards Oakley and another side trip out of there back towards where we were parked for the night.

We did our first scenic byway, City of Rocks Back Country Byway.

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