City of Rocks National Reserve - Southern Idaho Tourism

City of Rocks National Reserve

On his way to California in 1849, emigrant James F. Wilkens described the dramatic geological area he encountered as “City of Rocks.” The name remains, as well as hundreds of pioneer inscriptions, wagon ruts, and journal accounts, testifying to the nearly quarter-million people who traveled through here between 1843 and 1869.

Visitors today will see nearly the same scene – granite spires and monoliths reaching 60 stories tall. Geologists estimate the oldest granite to exceed 2.5 billion years. Established in 1988 as a national reserve, City of Rocks encompasses 14,407 acres of land (about one quarter is privately owned) and is renowned for its scenic, geologic, and historic significance. The City of Rocks area was an important landmark on the California Trail.

City of Rocks is one of the finest granite-face climbing sites anywhere. Climbers find the younger granite of the Almo Pluton to be some of the best rock they’ve ever ascended. About 700 routes have been developed to date. City of Rocks also has ample access to hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The winter months provide excellent opportunities for snowshoeing and skiing.

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