Almo, Idaho is home to the City of Rocks National Reserve, Castle Rocks State Park, and Durfee Hot Springs. It sits in the valley while Cache Peak towers above. City of Rocks and Castle Rocks are popular destinations for climbers, hikers, horse back riding, ATVing and camping.
Wild Adventures in Almo
Climb at the City of Rocks
The City of Rocks National Reserve had over 1,000 climbing routes for beginner to advanced climbers to enjoy. The world class climbing destination shows off beautiful granite boulders and domes. These rock walls have been transformed into sport and traditional climbs, plus some bouldering opportunities.
As quoted from professional climber Genevive Walker, “If you’re feeling a little bold or want to try something more overhung, “Interceptor” is a deceptively steep crack that goes from small fingers to #4s as you pull the lip. The overhang might look short but packs a punch with every move. When it comes to clipping bolts, there’s a unique crag called “The Dungeon” that’s full of steep sport routes. “Ball and Chain” is a fun 5.11c with beautiful granite scoops and huecos throughout that keep your blood pumping. Whether you come to City of Rocks to plug gear or clip bolts, there’s something fun and challenging for everyone.”
Not into climbing? Advanced hikers can free climb up Bathtub Rock! There are metal handles and foot holds for you to carefully ascend up the granite rock. At the top the views are incredible, and there is a little pool of water earning its name, Bathtub. It is not for the faint of heart and does require hand eye coordination. Check it out before attempting to assure your safety.
*Tip* Take a break from adventures in Almo and dine at either The Lunchroom or the Outpost Steakhouse.
Horseback Riding City of Rocks
What better way to see the backcountry of the City of Rocks than by horseback? There are a few trail opportunities to saddle up and get riding. City of Rocks equestrian trails can take into the North Fork Circle Creek country, Indian Grove, and even up the 8,867-foot Graham Peak. There is overnight equestrian camp sites available as well as day use areas. Once a year the City of Rocks and Castle Rocks hosts the Pioneer Endurance Ride, a 25 and 50 mile endurance horse race. This is a great opportunity to get out and ride with people from around the nation in a beautiful park.
Climbing at Castle Rocks
Castle Rocks State Park is only about a 10 minute drive from City of Rocks. Here, the climbing approaches are longer than City of Rocks options, but the hike in is worth it! Whether you want to climb sport and trad lines, or hike through granite spires, Castle Rocks State Park is a lovely place for wild adventure.
Idaho Mountain Festival is held at Castle Rocks annually and is the perfect place for all levels of climbers to gather. The weekend filled with activities and is generally held in September. Castle Rocks is known for some of the highest quality of rock in America, making it one of the best places for sport and trad climbers. This festival celebrates the beauty of Castle Rocks and brings the climbing community together for wild adventure together.
*Pro Tip* Soak at Durfee Hot Springs, a developed geothermal sourced hot spring in Almo. The natural hot spring water helps your muscles recover from soreness and is the best way to de-stress after all that adventure.
Hike up Cache Peak
Beginning at Castle Rocks State Park is the trailhead to the hike of the highest point in Southern Idaho, Cache Peak. The hike is about 5.5 miles, with 1,794 elevation gain. It is not for the faint of heart! Hiking all the way up provides views of the City of Rocks and Independence Lakes. Another option to hike up Cache Peak is by hiking the 7 mile trail up to Independence Lakes, then hiking up another mile and a half to the top of Cache Peak. There are wonderful camp areas at Independence Lakes and the experience makes for a wonderful backpacking trip. These hikes are only accessible June-September, during the winter months gear such as snow shoes and ice axes are required.
ATV from City of Rocks to Jackpot Nevada
Perhaps the longest and craziest adventure is to ATV from the City of Rocks National Reserve to Jackpot, Nevada. Cruising the back trails of City of Rocks, the South Hills, then finally to Jackpot is a trip not many have accomplished. Find hundreds of miles of trails to ride through with beautiful views along the way. One route includes passing Teepee Rocks, Phantom Falls, Magic Mountain, South Hills Moose Ponds, a even a Butterfly sanctuary. This is via the City of Rocks Scenic Byway to Oakley, to Trapper Creek Road to Magic Mountain Ski Resort.
Stay in Almo at the Almo Inn or one of the dozen Airbnbs in the area. There are great campsites near and around the parks as well. Burley is about a 50 minute drive from the City of Rocks and has affordable and nice hotels to stay in, as well as all the amenities a city has.
Always let your family and friends know you’re heading out on these wild adventures. There is very little to no cell service in Almo, Idaho, so come prepared and enjoy your adventures off the grid! Leave no trace principles must be followed at all times.