Wilderness Journeys

All photos taken with Olympus Tough Camera

Massacre Rocks is a state park located in American Falls, Idaho. It is a state park with a lot of history. Massacre Rocks is a famous spot along the Oregon Trail. Wagons in route of the Oregon Trail travelled over twelve-hundred miles from Missouri. It is said that many considered their trek through the Idaho desert as one of the most difficult parts of the journey. Unfortunately today, the interstate cuts through part of the Massacre Rocks State Park.  Massacre Rocks was given its names because there are large boulders in the area that created narrow passage ways through the rocks. Emigrants feared a possible ambush by Native Americans through these passageways because only one wagon could fit through at a time. These passageways were termed “Gate of Death” or “Devil’s Gate”. In 1862, five wagons clashed with Native Americans and ten emigrants died in the fight. If you want more of a historical background on Massacre Rocks State Park you may visit Pathways of Pioneers or Legends of America.

Given the historical significance of the area and the fact that we were looking for a new area to get our horses in shape for the riding season, we decided that riding Massacre Rocks State Park would be an interesting adventure. We did our research, found a park map that outlined the trails that were “horse accessible”, and we mapped out a route using the Suunto Watch. We traveled the hour and a half to the state park, paid our visitor fee and parked the horse trailer at a boat ramp. Yes it was a weird spot to park a horse trailer and the freeway was buzzing to our left. It wasn’t quite what we had in mind and definitely was too populated for our taste. We decided to make the best of it, saddled up and carried on our way. At about a mile into our trek we were stopped by a park ranger who told us that Massacre Rocks State Park does not allow horses in the park. There were no signs stating horses weren’t allowed. We pleaded our case, stating we found a state park map that reinforced we had every right to ride these trails. The park ranger reiterated that horses have been banned from the area for some time because they ruin the trails. We reluctantly obliged, turned around and headed back to the truck. It was our first time ever being kicked of a trail. We ate lunch at the boat ramp, knowing we needed to squeeze in a ride that day.

Maggie had fortunately ridden the area a while back and we ended up finding the place she had ridden. It was located on the other side of the Snake River that runs through Massacre Rocks State Park. It was a section of land not owned by the state park. This area offered many trails and services horses and unfortunately dirt bikes. We got back on our horses and picked a trail and just rode. There are many trails that wind through the desert and it is a sandy, hilly area. Be careful though because there are large sections of the land that are fenced in. Even though our day hadn’t gone as planned it was still an adventure and we got to do some exploring which is always fun. We actually went back to this spot the next weekend and explored even further. With the sand and hill climbing it is a good spot to get your horses in shape and surprisingly we didn’t come across any dirt bikers while we were on the trail. We only met them in the parking lot.

Directions to Massacre Rocks State Park (NO HORSES ALLOWED)

From Idaho Falls  head south on I-15 towards Pocatello, follow I-15 for about 45 miles. Take exit 72 for I-86 west toward Twin Falls.  Continue on I-86 W for 33 miles. Take exit 28 towards Massacre Rocks State Park. Turn right toward Park Ln. There is visitor station when you enter the park and the park fee is $5.

Directions to Horse Approved Riding Area


From Idaho Falls  head south on I-15 towards Pocatello, follow I-15 for about 45 miles. Take exit 72 for I-86 west toward Twin Falls.  Continue on I-86 W for 22 miles. Take exit 40 for ID-39 toward American Falls/Aberdeen. Turn right onto ID-39 N stay on this road for about 3 miles. Then turn left onto W Lamb Weston Road, turn left onto Borah Rd, then turn left onto S. Lake Channel Rd. Follow this road for about 3 miles you will see two big turn outs on either side of the road. In these turnouts you will see some dirt bike trailers. We parked on the turnout to the left of the road and explored the trails on that side.

Trail Maps

1st Trip

2nd Trip

Products We Use

The weather throughout our whole summer in Idaho and Wyoming can often be very unpredictable. We can start out a riding day being very sunny with blue skies and in a flash the weather can change to a downpour thunderstorm. We have been caught in many rainstorms, but we don’t let them keep us from riding. Rain or shine, we are out on the trail searching for those amazing views.

We’ve even been known to saddle up right in the middle of  big rainstorms.

One of our most memorable downpours was a ride through Yellowstone Park. We were taking an out-of-town friend on a tour of our trails when the storm hit. As we were sitting having our lunch, we had a flash flood actually carry our food away. The storm hit so hard and  fast we didn’t have time to take cover or grab our things.  We got pelted with hail and some serious downpour all the way back to the truck for 9 miles.

So how do we keep dry during these downpours? One of the major lifesavers is our Outback Rain Slickers. This is a full length waterproof, unisex duster. It has a detachable cape, rear saddle gusset, adjustable leg straps, dual snap closure, and an adjustable drawstring waistband. Because of these features it keeps us and our saddle dry. The only downside to this coat is that it is a larger coat and can take up room in your saddlebag. Even on the bluest of days we always pack this coat along for the ride. The Outback Rain Slicker has the slick oil exterior and after going through many downpours this tends to wear off. You can buy a Duck Back Dressing through Outback and follow the instructions to help keep your rain slicker waterproof.

If you are looking for more of a lightweight portable duster, we also pack the Outback Park-A-Roo Duster. It is a very convenient duster that has the ability to roll into its own built-in pack. This coat will protect you from the cooler temperatures, wind, and light rain showers. They come in short and long and a variety of colors.

There are also a few other items you may want to consider packing along for the ride in case you get caught in a storm. These are a hat cover, cowboy hats can often get ruined in the rain or lose their shape, waterproof pants, or rain ponchos. No matter what the weather is like, Maggie is always taking pictures. The Olympus Tough Camera is waterproof and has gone through many of our torrential downpours and is still taking its amazing photos. This camera really does stand up to its “Tough” name. In some of our rain pictures, you will see water spots from the rain, which would ruin most cameras. The Tough camera keeps on kicking and after drying out it’s like brand new.