By Thereasa Rasmussen
Okay, so I know not everyone is into rocks, but I just had to do an Idaho Travels on these rock formations that mother nature has created right here in our very own state. These two places that you are about to learn about are fun small hikes that you can take with your family to see what has been created out of rock and volcanic ash. Now these places are not stroller or walker friendly, but are manageable for most. First stop, the Balanced Rock.
I know you have had to at least seen pictures of this rock. I have for years and had it on my bucket list to one day go and visit. I finally made the push to get down there and see it, because, well, I just don't think it will be around for a lot longer. Balanced Rock is a forty ton rock that’s south of Buhl in Salmon Creek Falls Canyon near Castleford. This rock has been wind-carved to sit on a three foot by seventeen inch pedestal. From top to bottom it is forty-eight feet tall! Thats a lot of rock sitting on such a small space. When I visited it was apparent that vandals have been carving away at the base, but the county has tried to patch it with a bit of cement. Even with the patches though the wind continues to carve away at this famous rock and one day it will fall. According to visitidaho.com Balanced Rock is part of a rhyolite lava formation that was created over fifteen million years ago.
The rock is clearly visible from the road for those who can’t or do not wish to hike up to the the Balanced Rock. I recommend the hike if you are able. It is a bit steep, but the view from the top is great and being that close provides some fun photo opportunities. Nearby is Balanced Rock Park and it is like an oasis amongst the dry desert canyon walls. The Salmon Creek flows through this canyon giving life to green vegetation and provides a serene place to fish. While I was there kayakers were getting in to float off on an adventure. This small park provides a peaceful place to picnic and escape the busy world.
Our second stop is just off highway 46 outside of Gooding, Little City of Rocks. As you can imagine it looks just like it’s name. Rocks called hoodoos, stand tall like buildings throughout a four mile hike. From what I understand only about a mile and a half of the trail is well marked. When I went we only hiked in about half a mile because this was not our original destination, but we wanted to have a look. We plan to go back since our visit was so short. From the information I have gleaned there are petroglyphs hidden among these rock towers and I would love to check them out. This is a fun family hike with no real steep climbing just wandering among these rock giants. But for those who like a little challenge, you can try climbing these hoodoo rock structures, formed from volcanic ash, that protrude from the desert floor.
The main vegetation around the city is sagebrush and may take a visitor awhile to see the area’s unique beauty. For this I believe it may be one of the lesser known wonderlands of our great state. Spring time would be the best time to visit due to the desert climate and the number of hoodoos; this place probably gets pretty squelching in the summer time. Primitive camping is allowed with a warning to remember to pack out what you pack in. I am excited to go back and get more time to discover what this place has to offer, and a scavenger hunt for petroglyphs sounds like a fun challenge to me, what about you? Are you ready to take a day or two and explore Idaho?