As far as major things to see in Southern Idaho, my first thought was Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was the only place that really stood out on area maps and it sounded interesting enough. However, when we realized that we only had one weekend to see somewhere interesting, we choose City of Rocks, as suggested by some close friends.
We saw a sign for something that said “Rocks” on it and turned down a long dirt road. We arrived at a parking lot with a pay station, paid our $5 and took a nice hike in what we would later realize was Castle of Rocks State Park, and not City of Rocks National Reserve. However it was just as nice and we were glad we stopped there for an hour or so. We hiked part of an old road and some offshoot trails along the way. There were many interesting rock formations and even some petroglyphs.
We had a short picnic on the far side of the State Park, looked at a map and realized that we hadn’t even passed the town of Almo, where City of Rocks begins, so we got back in the truck and were on our way (happy that we hadn’t driven 3 to finish all the trails in an hour). It’s kind of fun to do 0 research on a place before going, unless of course you need cash to enter the place and don’t know how much it is til you’re there. When that happens, it always seems there isn’t an ATM for 20 miles – it happened with us in Goblin City once, another remote place that’s totally worth it. We brought cash this time but City of Rocks it turns out, is free.
We made it to City of Rocks with lots of time to spare and stopped at nearly every pull out to explore, hike or take photos. The park was surprisingly busy for its remoteness, especially popular with rock climbers, as the park offers tons of challenging rocks to conquer. Nearly every campsite seemed taken, mostly tent campers but occasionally a small trailer or van. I imagine because it was one of the first nice weekends of the year people were anxious to get out in nature. It ranged from about 65 to 70 all day, until we got to the pass on the far west side of the park where it felt like it might snow any moment. Another thing we didn’t know about the park – and we really just got lucky – is that the entrance is on the East side of the park in Almo, there is a road on the other side but once you get to the west side of the park and start driving north, you realize it’s an awful road and there’s about 18 miles of it. It was faster and easier on us and the truck to just turn around and go back the way we came. The road through the park is also dirt but fairly level with no washouts or major potholes.
Many of the photos I took at these places are on film – which I won’t see for a while, but will hopefully post when I have them!