Nature November 17, 2016
These Bizzarely-Shaped Mountains In Idaho Will Leave You Scratching Your Head In Wonder
Anyone who has ever traveled through Idaho, visited Craters of the Moon, explored either of our City of Rocks, clambered through a lava tube, or scaled a towering mountain knows that Idaho’s geology is a force to be reckoned with. But nature is also a master artist, and in the process of creating our unique mountainscapes and rocky geologic formations has also carved more than a few structures that those with a whimsical or creative eye can recognize — with names to match. How many of these have you seen during your travels?
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. The Goblin, Seven Devils
The Seven Devils along Hells Canyon have a unique Native American backstory to their creation, but also make quite the spectacle in terms of their shape. Each aptly-named peak is as intimidating as its title suggests, and the Goblin is no different. Grotesque, odd, and lacking a recognizable outline, you'll have to use your imagination to see it rising out of the earth among its neighboring peaks.
2. Lizard Butte, Marsing
To anyone who has driven along Highway 55 and into Marsing, how Lizard Butte got its name isn't a secret: the ancient basalt formation looks like a sunbathing lizard, complete with reared head and extended tail.
1.5 million years ago, when magma beneath the surface of the Snake River Plain encountered groundwater, a steam-powered eruption burst through the surface as a spatter cone volcano, like those at Craters of the Moon. The much more recent Bonneville Flood washed most of the cone away, leaving only the lizard form to stand guard over the valley.
One of Weiser's most prominent features is the profile of a resting Native American chief along the horizon. So defined is the face and headdress that the feature has inspired multiple landmarks and road names throughout the town. (Photo re-colorized to emphasize profile.)
4. Chimney Rock
With an elevation of over 7,000 feet, the beauty of Priest Lake unfolds nearly a mile below its crowning Chimney Rock summit. This unique formation -- aptly named as it stands apart from the dwelling-shaped mountain to the side -- is nestled in the Selkirks, just a short trip from Canada, but a 3-4 hour hike up the Mount Roothaan/Chimney Rock trail is all it will take to see this soaring beauty up close.
5. Castle Peak
The Sawtooths are known for their chiseled crags and angled features, but Castle Peak in the Boulder White Clouds is a feature that stands distinct from its harsh surroundings. The two points mimic the twin towers seen on palaces of yore, and true enough, the White Clouds themselves are a fairy-tale-like landscape of their own.
6. Elephant Perch
A favorite challenge for rock climbers that towers over 1000 feet above the ground, Elephant Perch overlooks Redfish Lake in Stanley and marks the town's merging with the Sawtooth Mountains. Uniquely bulbous with a rounded head, distinct trunk, and even twin tusks folding into the landscape, this feature is one that is beloved by locals and visitors alike.
7. Twin Sisters
city of Rocks National Reserve/Facebook
City of Rocks National Reserve/Facebook
A visit to either the City of Rocks or Idaho's Little City of Rocks is always a treat for the imagination, but the towering Twin Sisters formation marks a special stop on Almo's auto tour, as well as the most notable feature in the reserve at 638 feet high. Here, emigrants crossed the east-west ridge of granite through Pinnacle Pass as part of the California Trail, and even made note of the hunched, rocky figures in their journals.
What other notable figures and landmarks in Idaho are a treat for the imagination?