Gooding City of Rocks West Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is a gently sloping prairie that consists of beautiful landscapes such as canyons, arches, hoodoos, pillars and basalt bluffs on the south face of the Bennett Hills. This 9.3 square mile BLM property in Idaho offers good opportunities for primitive recreation, solitude, and memorable outdoor activities. Accessing the WSA is easy, thanks to the network of highways and local routes that surround the park areas.
Primitive recreation opportunities here include horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, nature study and photography, and hunting. Dense riparian vegetation and beautiful wildlife decorate this BLM park’s corridors too, so come along with your camera and binoculars. Outside the WSA, attractive sites that offer enhanced recreation abound. There are plenty of places to choose from, such as Mormon Reservoir, Magic Reservoir, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, and many more. Activities to enjoy include caving, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, and picnicking.
Gooding City of Rocks West Wilderness Study Area lies in Gooding County, Idaho between the Sawtooth Mountains that border the WSA to the north, and the Snake River Plain that borders it to the south. This BLM property is surrounded by major highways that offer ease of access for visitors coming from any direction.
To the north and south of the park are US Highways 20 and 26, while Interstate 84 lies close to the western boundary of the wilderness area. To the far east is US Highway 75. A network of local roads and routes such as Idaho Highway 46 and Hill City Road branch off these major routes to the wilderness. Guests are advised to come in four-wheel-drive vehicles to easily negotiate the rough dirt roads on the way to the wilderness.
Within the WSA, the use of motorized vehicles and equipment is not allowed to ensure that the study areas stay preserved. Be on the lookout for signs and posts that indicate where the boundaries of the wilderness are so you can find parking spaces for your vehicle.
There are no direct public transportation services to this BLM property.
A full-service campground is offered at Three Island Crossing State Park, just off Interstate 84, southwest of Gooding City of Rocks West WSA. The one square mile campground sits at an elevation of 2,484 feet and is open year-round to guests. Reservations are accepted and pets are allowed.
There are 82 campsites in the campground, one of which is ADA-accessible. Full and partial hookup options are provided for RVs within the campground. The maximum equipment length that can be accommodated is 95 feet. Eight cabins are also available.
Picnic tables and shelter, restrooms, fire rings, a bathhouse, and parking pads are some of the amenities provided.
Activities to enjoy here include picnicking, mountain biking and cycling, wildflower and wildlife watching, horseshoe pits, and disc golfing. In winter, hiking is also popular.
There are many factors that come together to make Gooding City of Rocks West WSA a fantastic hiking destination. One of these is the diverse terrain within the WSA that has varying degrees of difficulty for maneuverers that wish to go through the pillars and rock-filled drainages. Skilled hikers will be tested on these routes in the park, particularly as water is scarce during much of the year.
Furthermore, there is a wide-open space in the northern part of the WSA where hikers get to see interesting cultural sites and take photographs.
Gooding City of Rocks West WSA is well known for its unique vegetation and wildlife, and this is a major source of attraction to nature observers and lovers. Within the wilderness areas, the dominant flora is sagebrush and grasses. Within the shaded canyons in the park, plant life such as willows, cottonwood, aspen, chokeberry, and serviceberry are supported.
The wildlife species that dominate the park are deer, elk, bear, coyotes, as well as upland game birds and birds of prey.
Angling enthusiasts at Gooding City of Rocks West WSA have the option of visiting Mormon Reservoir in the northeastern areas to pursue their recreational interests. This 2.5 square mile reservoir is open all year and offers recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and primitive camping.
Fish species available in the reservoir include rainbow trout, yellow perch, bridgelip sucker, and Catostomus. Boaters who fancy motorized boating on the reservoir will find a boat ramp and two docks. Swimming is allowed, but there are no designated swimming areas.
Guests that visit this BLM park during winter are presented with the chance to explore the winter landscape at the nearby Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Here, the deep snow obscures what was once fiery lava, with dark, jagged rocks protruding through the snow in areas.
The two most popular winter recreational activities at the national monument are skiing and snowshoeing. A groomed winter trail is provided for skiers, while snowshoe enthusiasts also explore the one-mile Snowshoe Loop Trail that goes up a cinder cone.
Magic Reservoir is yet another popular destination for recreation around Gooding City of Rocks West WSA. This reservoir, fed by the Big Wood River, features clear waters that attract water-based recreation enthusiasts from all over the region.
Things to do here include boating, fishing, water skiing, ice fishing, and semi-developed camping. A number of sites of interest at the reservoir are available, such as Lava Cove, Lava Creek, Myrtle Point, West Magic, and Magic Dam.
The chance to explore caves draws visitors to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Of the five caves open to visitors in the national monument, four are located along the Caves Trail in the park, while the other one lies on the Broken Top Loop Trail. What this means is that you should prepare for hiking adventures if you wish to see what’s on offer within the caves.
Guides for exploring the trails and caves are provided for the visitors. Food is not allowed in the caves, and all are required to bring out whatever they bring into the caves.