Idaho Nature August 02, 2017
This Rock Formation Is One Of Idaho’s Most Photographed Spots
In Idaho it seems that wherever you look there is another weird or unique wonder to be explored. This rock formation located in Southern Idaho has become a sort of state icon because of just how….odd it is. Thousands and thousands of people travel to this geologic formation for the picture perfect photo opportunity. Balanced Rock stands at 48 feet tall and 40 feet wide, with only a 3 foot wide stem supporting it. But pictures just don’t do it justice. You have to see it in person.
Balanced Rock is tucked away in the Magic Valley near Castleford, Idaho. It can be reached by taking U.S. Highway 30 and then turning onto the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway.
Getting there is pretty easy. Simply follow Glenn's Ferry Road until you come to the turnoff that takes you to Balanced Rock Park.
The winding canyon drive is an adventure in itself. This scenic drive gives you amazing views of the canyon. There are plenty of signs directing you to the park, so it's hard to miss. From the park you will take a short hike up the hill until you get to the rock.
The park is situated in Salmon Falls Creek Canyon which provides a good amount of shade during the spring and summer season.
The park is well maintained and manage by both U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Twin Falls County. It has several picnic tables and is situated along a nice river, making it a great place to rest and eat lunch with the family before or after making the small hike to Balanced Rock.
It's impossible to get a feel for just how massive Balanced Rock is without seeing it up close and in person. At 40 tons, this thing is simply gargantuan.
The rock type of the formation is often mistaken to be made of basalt which has been molded by wind over time. However, the rock is actually made up of rhyolite. This is an easy mistake to make since much of the Snake River area is covered in basalt formations. However, basalt is usually "younger" than 1 million years old and rhyolite is known to be much, much older!
Geologists hypothesize that Balanced Rock wasn't shaped solely from wind, like many people assume. Instead, they suggest that the formation was made over several millions of years of freeze and thaw cycles.
The initial rock was formed after several volcanic eruptions that took place 15 million years ago. These same eruptions formed portions of Bruneau Canyon, as well.
In order to prevent damage from vandals, Balanced Rock's stem was artificially reinforced in order to keep the formation in tact.
There are several rumored stories from people during the 1920's and 1930's attempting to break through the stem with an axe, or even trying to blow it up with dynamite. Therefore, the stems reinforcement was sadly necessary.
The hike itself lends to some extraordinary and unobstructed views of the surrounding plains. This certainly isn't a bad spot to watch one of our amazing Idaho sunsets!
Whether you're looking for a nice day trip or just passing through on the interstate, a stop at Balanced Rock is the perfect choice. Bring your camera and take a picture so you can show all of your friends the majestic beauty of this amazing Idaho formation!
Have you been to Balanced Rock? Share your photos with us in the comments!
Need more weird geologic wonders in your life? Check out our
article on Idaho’s Little City of Rocks.