City of Rocks Back Country Byway – 49 Miles from Albion to Oakley

Almo, Idaho.

The City of Rocks Backcountry Scenic Byway winds its way around the Albion Mountain Range in southern Idaho. The 49-mile (79 km) journey starts at the city of Albion and ends at Oakley. We picked up the byway at Almo and headed toward the namesake and major attraction on the byway, the City of Rocks. Last August, I shared some photos of our visit to the City of Rocks. You can refresh your memory here.

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Much of the byway is on gravel roadways, but they are basically well cared for. Travel by car will require 90 minutes or so at speeds appropriate for the unpaved sections. When you get to the City of Rocks, however, you will want to allow some extra time to explore the “Silent City” and marvel at nature’s handiwork.

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The Albion Mountains are in the background on your journey which takes you through typical rural Idaho scenery. Our trip in early October 2020 featured hazy skies from the months of wildfires blazing at that time in the western states.

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Along the byway, there are historical markers that point out interesting elements of the scenery such as this covered wagon displayed near the California Trail.

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From 1841 to 1869, travelers headed west on the trail that brought thousands of travelers through 5,000 miles (8,047 km) and what is now ten states from Missouri westward. Parts of that trail are still in existence and travelers in the 1800s put their names and dates they passed through on the rocks in what is now the City of Rocks. Graffiti artists indeed were found well back in history, it seems.

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Along the byway, there are plenty of opportunities to learn the history of the area, and the rocks in the park are a favorite for technical rock climbers. There are a wide variety of formations that require a large number of technical rock climbing skills.

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The rural landscape was definitely showing off its autumn colors and there is plenty of rangeland for raising cattle. Ranching is a big business in the area.

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There were few fences and plenty of signs to warn of cattle that might be nearby. A small herd found some tasty grass along the highway, but it appears one of the herd was looking for more flavorful options.

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A view from the side of the road demonstrates that the byway, at least on our trip was well cared for, but being gravel, it is wise to keep your speed reasonable. The recommended travel times on the byway are April through November.

Campsites are available in the City of Rocks, but be sure to reserve early. If they happen to be full, you can check along the byway at the Pomerelle Mountain Resort and the Lake Cleveland Recreation Area. Also nearby is Castle Rocks State Park. The park, in addition to rock climbing, includes many miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Please feel free to click on any of the images above to view them in 4K HD on my Flickr site, or you can click here to visit the album where you will find a couple of “bonus” images at no extra charge.

John Steiner

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