Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Massacre Rocks State Park, Idaho

May 26-29, 2014:

Memorial Day finds us leaving Pocatello and moving 35 miles north to Massacre Rocks State Park just outside of American Falls, Idaho.  We are now in the Idaho farm belt, endless green irrigated fields and fields of freshly planted Potatoes.   We are still in the high desert country, but very little cactus, mostly various grasses, sage and juniper.  The geology has now changed from the sandstone sedimentary rocks to mostly igneous volcanic rocks. 

Everything is irragted here

Newly planted Potato field brings back memories of my youth

Massacre Rocks is on the Oregon Trail, one of the primary pioneer wagon roads of its day.  This particular place gained some notoriety as the site of an indian attack on a couple of the pioneer wagons in which about ten pioneers were killed.  There are large Volcanic rocks along the trail in the area that were natural ambush places hence the spot was named "Massacre Rocks".  It was hardly a massacre, pretty nasty, but the press sensationalized it as they still do today. The Indians as a whole were helpful to the pioneers, showing the way to water, places to cross rivers, find food, etc until the influx of settlers became overwhelming and started taking the prime real estate away.

Our campsite with the Snake River in background

How Massacre Rocks was named

The view looking out across highway where the
Oregon Trail passed through
The rocks in the park

The rocks were carried here by flood waters

The park is right on the Snake River with fishing, boating, wild life, hiking and Disc Golf.  The disc golf course is difficult according to the park brochure which says, "It ain't your momma's disc golf course".  The Oregon Trail passes also with wagon ruts still visible in a area. 

18 hole course is not your Mamma's

Golf course hole in front of the rocks that are all over park

The Snake River in it's natural state was a wild fast flowing river, but it has been tamed with the building of several Dams along its length.  The reservoirs behind these Dams have become recreational areas, wildlife preserves, but it's mainly about water for power and irrigation.  There were no lush green farm fields in this valley when the pioneer wagon trains came through in the mid 1800's. The river even in its weakened state is impressive and the valley is filled with birdlife, even Pelican's in the river. 

Snake River view from a  campground trail

Campground fishing dock on the river

It's almost straight down to the river
Pelican's are in the river

We hiked the Oregon Trail in the State Park with a nice view of the Snake River, but it is not the real trail, but rather a park trail to the real Oregon trail after you go through a tunnel under the highway.  Once on the real Oregon Trail there is a section where the ruts and path of the Wagons is still visible.

Oregon Trail sign

Nice sun flowers along the trail

View from the trail

This is the "real" Oregon Trail
Another view of the trail

After that we drove a couple of miles outside of the State Park to another small park called "Registration Rock" which originally was a rest or camping stop for Oregon Trail travelers.  There is a large rock there with many pioneer names carved into the stone. 

The rock is behind a fence for protection

Names gouged into the rock

Barely visible Indian picture done by J.J. Hansen age 7
Next was a ride to American Falls for a mail pickup and a cruise around town.  American Falls was named for the Falls and rapids on the Snake River there, which are now practically non existent since the Dam was constructed. It is definitely a farming community, with a huge grain silo complex in town along with several farm equipment dealers.  It's a different world there, we went to the local food market and they insisted on pushing the cart out to the Jeep. 

Grain elevators in American Falls

Oregon Trail marker in American Falls

Lots of tractors for sale

A view of the reservoir at American Falls

The Snake River just after the dam

How American Falls was named

As everyone is irrigating everything around here and with the river flowing within sight, seems to be no shortage of water, so I decided to wash the RV.  We've been exposed to a lot of blowing dust over the past two months, it's overdue.  Most private campgrounds do not allow this so you need to get it done when you can. 

Next stop is "Craters of the Moon" National Park,

Twinkles and Slick

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