Gate of Death, Devil's Gate, Massacre Rocks —this natural area nestled in American Falls, Idaho is a land of many names. But don't let these grisly epithets deter you from visiting this seriously stunning region. Back in pioneer times, the narrow gap in the rock formations that characterize the area proved challenging for brave settlers navigating the unique hazards of the Wild West. So challenging that successful trailblazers made their mark—literally —on the boulder, which is now known as Register Rock. Visitors at Massacre Rocks State Park can take a quick trip to view these centuries-old signatures for themselves or get up-close to the well-preserved remnants of the Oregon Trail within the park. Though the park is named after a deadly skirmish between native tribes and pioneers along the Oregon Trail, visitors won't find any danger here— apart from the occasional coyote, that is. Outdoor enthusiasts can fish, paddle, hike, or simply sit back and scope out the flora and fauna that calls this biodiverse region home. Are you planning a camping trip to Massacre State Park? The park's campground welcomes visitors year-round and is equipped with premium amenities. Whether you're only stopping over for a night or parking the RV to explore all the geological gems this area has to offer, remember, coyotes live in the park. Secure all food, toiletries, and scented items in an animal-proof locker or locked vehicle, or you just might wake up to an unwanted guest searching for a snack!
Thanks to the park's proximity to I-86, Massacre Rocks State Park is an intriguing spot for RV travelers to stop over on their excursion through the Gem State. The campground loops are paved, with roads wide enough to accommodate big rigs and regular vehicles. The main parking lot and roads by the entrance are gravel. Note that the park is located in a relatively remote area, although provisions can be found in the nearby town of American Falls.
Are you visiting Massacre Rocks State Parks for the day? Park the rig in one of three parking areas and let the adventures begin! The main lot is gravel and rather small, so keep this in mind if visiting during the peak season. Other parking areas can be found just outside the campground, near the Trapper's Trailhead, and by the boat ramp. Note that a vehicle entry fee applies at Massacre Rocks State Park.
The award-winning Pocatello KOA campground, located in the U.S. Smile Capital, is sure to make you smile. You’ll be just around the corner from Idaho State University and the Museum of Natural History. Other local attractions include the mountains, winter sports, Lava Hot Springs, Massacre Rocks State Park, and the Pocatello Zoo. Campground amenities include full hookups with cable and Wi-Fi, restrooms and showers, 24-hour laundry facilities, a dump station, a gas station, ice cream and self-serve food service, a convenience store, and gift shop, a game room, recreational facilities, and a dog park.
Enjoy year-round camping in the city center of beautiful Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. From any campsite at the Lava Hot Springs/City Center KOA, you can walk over the safe footbridge and enjoy a day at the swimming complex, or take a soak in the area’s famous hot springs, just three blocks away. There are a fun playground and jumping pad for the kids, a gift shop and convenience store, and on-site fishing. Amenities include Wi-Fi, restrooms and laundry facilities, Kamping Kitchen, fire pits, and picnic tables. Sites offer 50-amp hookups, and there is firewood available for purchase.
Tent and RV campers at Massacre Rocks State Park can choose from 42 sites spread across two loops. Sites accommodate trailers and motorhomes between 18 and 100 feet in length and come equipped with water and 20 and 30-amp electric hookups. Various sites offer shade to help you stay cool during the warmer months. Only two sites provide ample space for rigs longer than 99 feet, so if you're planning to visit Massacre Rocks State Park in a large RV, be sure to reserve a suitable space in advance. Both the upper and lower loops include centrally-located restroom and shower facilities. The lower loop's facilities are accessible for guests with disabilities. The fishing area and a wildlife viewing platform are located a short walk away from the campground.
Campers at Massacre Rocks State Park can camp all year round and can reserve their site up to four months in advance. Please note that only one of the campsites is accessible for guests with disabilities. Pets are welcome at all sites as long as dog owners observe standard etiquette rules.
In addition to partially serviced campsites, Massacre Rocks State Park offers four camping cabins named after the park's animal and plant life. The Cottontail, Coyote, Juniper, and Sagebrush cabins all accommodate up to five guests and come with electricity. Cabin amenities include bunk beds, futons, front porch seating, a picnic table and fire pit, and dining tables. Note that amenities will vary depending on the cabin you select. The cabins are scattered throughout the Massacre Rocks Campground, so campers staying in the cabins also have access to the campground amenities. Cabin campers must contact the park 48 hours before arriving to acquire information about key pick-up. Pets are prohibited in the cabins.
Once your inner adventurer is sufficiently tuckered out, why not refuel with a packed lunch? Picnic areas are located throughout the park along the scenic Snake River. If you're looking for a side of history with your meal, there is a beautiful picnic area situated around Register Rock, located two miles from the park. While it may not be the best place to host your next group gathering, Massacre Rocks State Park makes the perfect spot for an intimate family picnic, complete with horseshoe pits and a volleyball court to keep the kid campers happy.
Geese, pelicans, and herons, oh my! Birdwatching enthusiasts will relish the chance to step out of the RV and spend the day spotting some of the park's frequent flyers. If you're lucky, you just might see a bald eagle! Other resident animals include beavers, rabbits, blue herons, muskrats, and coyotes. Remember to keep a safe distance from wild animals!
Let the games begin! Treat your camping crew to a little friendly competition on the park's new disc golf course. In the park's own words, "This ain't your momma's disc golf course!" The course features 18 holes, nine of which are situated to the west of the parking lot, and the other nine to the east. Come prepared for a challenge on this wooded course, but don't worry if you didn't pack your own gear in the pop-up—rentals are available at the park's nature store.
Rock climbers flock to Massacre Rocks State Park for, well, the rocks of course. This rugged park boasts 21 different climbing areas with varying lengths and difficulties. The Red Light District and the All American Area are the two most popular rock climbing areas in the park. Cool-weather climbing is the most popular here during the off-season and makes for a great way to get out of the Sprinter for a day (or a week).
Although Massacre State Park is all about heart-pounding recreation and a thrilling, if not gory, past, there is also a serene sense of tranquility to be found here. The scenic Snake River flows beside the park and can be a beautiful backdrop for photographers trekking the River Trail. If you're looking to snap an Instagram worthy picture of the park's long history, remnants from the Oregon Trail can be seen from both ends of the park.
If you're a fan of fishing, don't forget to pack the rod and reel in the wagon—er, campervan. Bass is the catch of the day at Massacre Rocks State Park, but trout and carp are also on the menu. Anglers are advised to use plastic crayfish as bait for the best chance of bagging a big bass! Before you hit the river, be sure to gather the state licensing information to ensure you comply with all fishing regulations.
When you've had your fill of history, unwind with an excursion on Snake River. Watercraft of all kinds are welcome to hit the water from the park's boat launch, and paddlers can use the separate canoe access point. If you're interested in seeing the river via boat, you can haul your own flotation devices along in the Airstream, or rent a canoe or kayak from the park. After a day well spent on the water, park your craft at the dock before heading back to the campsite.
The trail network at Massacre Rocks State Park is relatively short and historically significant to boot. Follow in the pathway of pioneers past, quite literally, on the Wagon Rut Trail, just over three-quarters of a mile long and home to meticulously preserved wagon ruts. Respect this route by taking nothing but pictures and leaving nothing but footprints.
There's something for everyone at Massacre Rocks State Park, even the young ones. The Junior Rangers program lets kids learn about nature while developing skills they can use every day. The program runs from Memorial Day through September, and you can pick up the Junior Ranger Guide from the park office. From there, each completed activity will earn a sticker of completion. Complete four out of the six activity options earn your Junior Ranger badge!
It's not just kids that can learn a little something while RV camping at Massacre Rocks State Park. The park also has a First Time Adventure Program geared towards adults. People of all ages and skillsets are welcome to participate in beginner canoeing and kayaking classes, as well as an intensive water sports safety class. Instruction, vessels, and safety gear are provided by park staff.