City of Rocks National Reserve

Southern Idaho's collection of granite spires and boulders attracts both hikers and history buffs.

Bath rock, City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho, image

Bath Rock is one of many impressive formations in Idaho's City of Rocks National Reserve.

What renowned slice of nature serves up grand vistas of thousands of granite monoliths and towers, drawing climbers from around the world? Hint: It’s not Yosemite. At southern Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, rarely crowded hiking paths offer plenty of wonderment to those who like to mix a little legwork with their sightseeing.

The newest in the park’s 26-mile network of trails is a self-guided geological tour that visits spike-topped boulders called pickelhauben and gaping stone mouths called tafoni. The gentle South Fork Circle Creek Trail passes wildflowers, piñons, and the central Inner City.

A ranger-led hike takes history buffs to wagon ruts left in the mid-1800s by the 250,000 travelers along the California Trail. Other visitors let their cars do the work on a 24-mile scenic drive that includes Register Rock, where immigrant names written in axle grease 150 years ago still survive. (208) 824-5910, nps.gov/ciro.

Photography courtesy Wikipedia/Wallace Keck, Park Superintendent, City of Rocks National Reserve

This article was first published in May 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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