The Gooding City of Rocks

The Gooding City of Rocks, not to be confused with the "Silent City of Rocks," which is also in Idaho, is in the Mt. Bennett Hills overlooking the Snake River Plain. The rocks rise to the north of the agricultural town of Gooding, Idaho.

This is a beautiful and strange roadless area consisting of many "hoodoos" carved by water and wind out of welded volcanic tuff. The area is stunningly beautiful. Many of rock formations are nearly covered by bright ("neon light-like" or "psychedelic"- colored lichens).

Hoodoos in Coyote Creek. Gooding City of Rocks

Hoodoos as seen from under an overhang
in Coyote Creek. © Ralph Maughan

Not as nearly well known as Idaho's other city of rocks -- the granitic "Silent City of Rocks" south of Burley near the Idaho-Utah-Nevada border, the Gooding City of Rocks is accessible by a good dirt road (except when it rains when it quickly becomes impassable clay).

The Mt. Bennett Hills get hit hard by livestock grazing, but the cows don't get down into the Gooding City of Rocks, or if they do they don't find their way out. Although the roadless area is not large, the hiker should be very careful to bring a topographic map and to count, to note carefully, the side canyons you pass lest you become disoriented for a day or so.

There is water in May and June in Coyote Creek. There are many wildflowers and plants I didn't recognize (cow free country being so rare in this part of the world you don't recognize native plants.). Watch out for rattlesnakes and wood ticks during the prime May-June hiking season.

In 2004, a wolf pack set up in the area. After they killed some cattle, the pack was killed off by the government, but the wolves will be back, given time.

The Gooding City of Rocks
Near the edge of the City of Rocks with the Snake River Plain in the distance
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Gooding City of Rocks Roadless Area/ rev. March 12, 2006