• Twin Sisters

    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.


Statements of Significance and Primary Interpretive Themes:

Emigrant Signatures

Significance Statement 1:

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.

Primary Interpretive Theme:

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.


Circle Creek Basin with Graham Peak

Significance Statement 2:

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.

Primary Interpretive Theme:

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.


Stone House

Significance Statement 3:

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

Primary Interpretive Theme:

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.


Chicken Rock

Significance Statement 4:

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.

Primary Interpretive Theme:

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.



Significance Statement 5:

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.

Primary Interpretive Theme:

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.



Significance Statement 6:

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

Primary Interpretive Theme:

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


Did You Know?

Flaming Rock Climber

City of Rocks National Reserve is a North American favorite for technical rock climbers. Climbers come from around the world to climb a variety of routes from 5.0 (least difficult) to 5.13 (most difficult).