Take a trip to the unexpected landscapes of Southern Idaho
Southern Idaho’s land is diverse, bringing a new excitement around every corner. Hidden in canyons and far off of the beaten path are incredible landscapes you can only find in Idaho. These secret locations must be taken care of, so be sure to practice responsible recreation when visiting. We’ve curated a list of unexpected, crazy landscapes that you can find, hidden deep in Southern Idaho.
1. Black Magic Slot Canyon
EDIT: AS OF 4/7/2023 BLACK MAGIC CANYON IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON. IT WILL REOPEN IN FALL 2023.
Explore the depths of Idaho lava fields and be transported into the otherworldly Black Magic Slot Canyon. Northeast of Shoshone, Idaho lies a crack in the earth so beautiful and unexpected you’ll swear it’s Arizona’s Antelope Canyon. The difference between the two is the jarring edges and deep darkness Black Magic Canyon holds.
Directions to Black Magic Canyon
Black Magic Slot Canyon is tucked away north of Shoshone, and west of Richfield. Not to be mistaken with the google maps location of a different section along Hwy 93. This part of Black Magic Canyon is very cool as well, but the walls don’t tower as high. To get to this specific slot canyon location, drive north of Shoshone on HWY 93, past Johnny’s Country Store, and take road 520 to the east. Follow this road to the end and pull up to the old dam. Here, there is a parking area above the dam. Walk down the sandy rocks and emerge slowly into this incredible slot canyon.
The further into the cave you get, the deeper it gets! You’ll see beautifully carved basalt flowing above and below where you hike. As you continue deeper into this canyon make sure to watch your step. There are some sections to walk and maneuver around. This will require moderate climbing and sturdy shoes.
Prepare for the trip
The smooth lava rock came from the Shoshone Lava Flow, but about 10,000 years ago the Big Wood River powerfully surged through the lava rock creating this canyon. It is similar texture to the Utah slot canyons, and is even more intense with the harsh black walls! This adventure is ONLY accessible in the fall and early winter. The canyon is full of water all other times of year, and there is no warning when the canyon will fill up. Be sure to check the water levels ahead of time to assure you and your loved ones are safe. Click Current News to see details. The best months to visit are October, November, and December. January and February are generally still accessible but if there is snow the roads will not be cleared all the way to Black Magic Slot Canyon.
2. Little City of Rocks
This geological wonder is located past fields of lava and south of towering mountains. The rocks move in all directions from arches to interesting shapes in the high desert landscape.
Directions to the Little City of Rocks
Another amazing place located west of Shoshone is the Little City of Rocks Wilderness Study Area. It is 12 miles north of Gooding, Idaho on the way to Fairfield. The Little City of Rocks has funky shaped rocks all around to climb through or take the perfect selfie with! The road to the Little City gets muddy, so we recommend parking at one of the parking lots along the road. The land leading up to the Little City of Rocks is privately owned, so please be respectful and don’t drive on the road when it is muddy. Park closer to the main road and include it as part of your hike. The Little City of Rocks trail system is a 4.9 mile loop. Shoulder season is the perfect time to visit because visitors are rare and sparse out here!
3. Teepee Rocks
Hidden far away from any city lies rolling hills and canyon walls. An incredibly interesting landscape unfolds as you search in the depths. Boulders of crumbly, sandy rock stand to a point, shaped as a cylinder. Teepee Rocks is a truly unique sight to behold!
Teepee Rocks is south of Oakley Idaho, and is possibly the coolest place ever. The tuff rocks are shaped into cones that line the edge of a cliff side. They then form their own little village of rocks that you can walk in and around. These rocks are delicate so do not climb on them as they crumble and we must preserve them. There can be snow depending on the year, so be sure to check road conditions before heading up. Regardless of snow or dry, bring a four wheel drive vehicle to make it up the slight slope of the beginning of the South Hills. The road is extremely rocky and bumpy. You will drive on Trapper Creek Road to discover this incredible area.
4. City of Rocks
A historic ‘Silent City’ awaits where native Americans and immigrants once walked. Find signatures from settlers passing through, and pictographs from the native Americans who occupied the area years ago. The bold landscapes will stun you with beauty. Rocks are shaped in incredible ways, and beautiful mountains sit behind the city acting as the perfect backdrop.
City of Rocks is located in Almo at the base of mountains. The insane views of the City of Rocks National Reserve are truly unique. Climbers from around the world travel here to climb the amazing routes. There are many hikes around the area to explore by foot, or drive the scenic route to see the one of a kind landscape. The town of Almo has a few services available. Tracy’s General Store is the perfect place to fill up on gas and goodies. Stay in a beautiful western themed hotel, the Almo Inn, or take it one step further into adventure and lodge in a yurt! The Glamping Yurt at Castle Rocks State Park (neighbors with City of Rocks) is a fun and unique way to get in touch with nature and “rough it” in a yurt.
Where to stay while visiting:
The Governor’s Mansion is located in the heart of Historic Shoshone. This is an excellent place to learn history plus you get to stay in a lovely bed and breakfast. This is one of the seven original Gooding family homes in Shoshone. Just down the road is the Snack Shack that we highly recommend you visit. Get some tasty comfort food and indulge on their delicious mile high ice cream!
If you’re looking to stay in a city, visit Twin Falls! Twin Falls is located about 45 minutes away from Black Magic Slot Canyon. The “City of Waterfalls” is located right on the Snake River Canyon where you can see views of a lifetime! The entry to town is the Perrine Bridge – a magnificent sight towering almost 500 feet above a river. There are over 30 waterfalls within Twin Falls County, and many more around. We recommend staying at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. This sparkling clean and bright hotel is the perfect place for a peaceful night. They have a large pool and great rates.
Unique lodging options to stay near the City of Rocks vary from western hotels to yurts to teepees! The Almo Inn is a lovely hotel to lodge at. The western themed accommodation has lovely views of the mountains as well as a lovely patio to relax on. Castle Rocks State Park as a glamping yurt located within the park where views are bountiful.