• Climbers on Morning Glory Spire

    City Of Rocks

    National Reserve Idaho

Purpose of City of Rocks National Reserve

City of Rocks National Reserve was created to preserve and protect, through cooperative efforts, the scenic qualities and attributes of the California Trail landscape, historic rural setting, and granite features, while interpreting its values and managing recreation.

Why is City of Rocks National Reserve so special?

Replica wagons of the California Trail era

Replica wagons of the California Trail era

Wallace Keck

#1 - California Trail (1843-1882)

As part of the largest overland emigration route in American history, the Reserve preserves the most intact and authentic setting of the California Trail. City of Rocks served as a landmark and critical refuge that inspired numerous written accounts of the landscape.

City of Rocks was a major landmark for emigrants traveling along the California Trail. City of Rocks provided rest and inspiration for the many weary travelers who were heading for Granite Pass and ultimately for California or Oregon.

Scenic City of Rocks

Scenic City of Rocks

Wallace Keck

#2 - Outstanding Scenery

The Reserve has a timeless natural quality and protects and preserves outstanding scenery set among sculpted granite and monoliths framed by the Albion and surrounding mountains.

The timeless scenery of City of Rocks National Reserve is broad and expansive yet accessible and personal. People develop a personal relationship with this landscape as evidenced by pioneer journals and comments from modern-day visitors.

Log structure at site of historic stage station

View of Twin Sisters from log structure at site of historic stage station

Wallace Keck

#3 - Rural Setting of the Historic West

The Reserve embraces the western setting by preserving remnants of traditional occupation, transportation, and land use of prehistoric and historic peoples.

The rural historic setting of City of Rocks National Reserve still provides authenticity to the traditional western rural lifestyles of the past 150 years, as well as much of the prehistoric culture period.

Sculpted granite pinnacles and landscape

City of Rocks sculpted granite pinnacles and landscape

Wallace Keck

#4 - Dramatic Geologic Landscape

The Reserve is a dramatic geologic landscape with naturally sculpted spires and domes that evoked responses as recorded in emigrant diaries and from visitors of today.

Erosion of a cross-jointed granite pluton has resulted in the formation of a maze of spires and domes that are noted for their impressive scenery, stark silence, and inspirational qualities.

City of Rocks offers exceptional opportunities for geologic study

City of Rocks offers exceptional opportunities for geologic study

Wallace Keck

#5 - Exceptional Opportunities for Geologic Study

The Reserve preserves an uplifted and eroded landscape that reveals geologic structures, igneous intrusions, and a rare exposure of some of the oldest and deepest metamorphic rocks in the western United States.

The uplifted and eroded rocks at City of Rocks National Reserve are like an open window into the earth where visitors and scientists can view tectonic (ancient geologic) events that raised the mountainous interior of the western United States and the surficial processes that are shaping the current landscape.

A female climber on City of Rocks granite

City of Rocks climber negotiates Singapore 11a on Window Rock

Wallace Keck

#6 - World-class Rock Climbing

The Reserve provides one of the highest quality granite face climbing areas in the United States.

People come from around the world to experience the challenge of climbing the rocks in a quiet and scenic western setting.

A diversity of plants are found at City of Rocks

A diversity of flowers are found at City of Rocks

Wallace Keck

#7 - A Biogeographic Crossroads

The Reserve occurs at a biogeographic crossroads and protects a rich ecological diversity, providing exceptional opportunities for scientific and shared learning.

Because the Reserve is located between the Great Basin and the Upper Columbia Basin, a diversity of plants and animals can be studied, observed, and enjoyed in a relatively small area.

Did You Know?

Signatures (in axle grease) on Camp Rock.

Throughout the West emigrants recorded their passing by writing their names (often with axle grease) at unique places like City of Rocks. Camp Rock once contained hundreds of names. But these historic records are fast disappearing.