NewsIdaho Back Roads


Winter at City of Rocks

Geology, history and adventure
Posted at 8:28 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 22:28:35-05

CITY OF ROCKS NATIONAL RESERVE, IDAHO — It is one of Idaho's most interesting geological features; City of Rocks. At first glance some of massive rocks in this silent city really look like houses.

But geology isn't the only thing visitors find interesting here. City of rocks is also rich with history.

These rocks not only have this ancient history right, of geology, millions of years," said Kate Yeater. "But also layers of human history."

It was a stop for many on the California Trail during the 1800s, and the evidence of that history is literally etched in stone, or in some cases, written in axle grease.

"The signatures have lasted since the mid-1800s, and they were done in axle grease from their wagons," said Yeater. "It's incredible how long these signatures have lasted on these rocks."

"The area is also rich with wildlife. This time of year you are likely to see a variety of birds, mule deer and even an occasional moose.

Seismic activity and millions of years of erosion have shaped the landscape at this national reserve, and the nearby Castle Rocks State Park.

During summer thousands come to the area, but if you're looking for a unique winter experience you can strap on some snowshoes. If you don't have any you can rent them at the visitor's center.

In the summer City of Rocks is teeming with families and rock climbers. Some think the best time to get solitude here is during the winter.

"We have twenty two miles of trails here at City of Rocks and Castle Rocks State Park," said Yeater. "And the likelihood that you can get out and get some solitude is very high,"

During the winter, City of Rocks also attracts cross country skiers, snowmobilers and ice climbers. It is definitely a Back Roads location that is three hours from Boise.