This unique geologic area became a landmark in 1843 for California-bound emigrants. They left wagon ruts across the landscape and their signatures in axle grease on Register Rock, Camp Rock and many others.
A few granite pinnacles and monoliths are in excess of sixty stories tall and 2.5 billion years old. The smooth granite faces offer exceptional rock climbing. Today, over 500 climbing routes have been identified.
The Reserve is managed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service.
“We encamped at the city of the rocks, a noted place from the granite rocks rising abruptly out of the ground,” wrote James Wilkins in 1849. “They are in a romantic valley clustered together, which gives them the appearance of a city.” Wilkins was among the first wagon travelers to fix the name City of Rocks to what looked like “a dismantled, rock-built city of the Stone Age.” California Trail pioneers were leaving civilization as they knew it in the East for new lives in the West. Some wrote their names in axle grease on rock faces, and their signatures can be seen today. No doubt thirsty on this northern edge of the Great Basin Desert, one emigrant saw the distant rocks in August like “water thrown up into the air from numerous artificial hydrants.”
Beginning in 1843, City of Rocks was a landmark for emigrants on the California Trail and Salt Lake Alternate Trail and later on freight routes and the Kelton, Utah to Boise, Idaho stage route. The area’s historical and geological values, scenery, and opportunities for recreation led to its designation as City of Rocks National Reserve in 1988. This unit of the National Park System is managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, who invite you to enjoy the wonders of the City of Rocks.
City of Rocks National Reserve Idaho
3035 Elba-Almo Road Almo, ID 83312
The National Reserve is open 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Many roads are not maintained during the winter and may become impassable from late November through March. For current conditions visitors are encouraged to check with the Visitor Center or watch for alerts on our website and social media. During summer the Visitor Center is open every day 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. During fall/winter the Visitor Center is open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Wednesday-Sunday, closed holidays.
A ranger is available at the Visitor Center 8:00 am – 4:30 pm daily April-October and Tuesday-Saturday November-March.
There is no fee to enter City of Rocks National Reserve.
Suggested Equipment for City of Rocks National Reserve Idaho:
The following activities within the park should be done with utmost caution. Make sure that you have the proper protective gear and equipment necessary to make your adventures safe and accident-free. We advise you to read the TIPS underneath each activity to serve as a guide on what you may need to bring in order to enjoy your stay fully.