Massacre Rocks State Park

Massacre Rocks State Park

Near American Falls, Idaho…

July 2018

We are camping at Massacre Rocks State Park for a week after attending the FMCA Rally in Gillette.  We have water and electric at our campsite, but no sewer – no big deal as they had really great bathrooms with wonderful showers.  There are gray water dump stations scattered around so no worries about dumping.  Our new sensors come in handy to monitor the tanks.

Dawn at Massacre Rocks



We spent lots of time watching the stars – from ‘ol Sol’s sunrises and sunsets to the stars and Milky Way.  Even with smoke from fires near Boise we had a few really nice nights where we watched the stars.  We used the binoculars for most of the viewing, but Jeff also set up the telescope for some stargazing.  No camera work this time though.  Jeff is getting better setting up the German Equatorial Mount telescope and hopes a “Go-To” motorized telescope is in his future!

Massacre Rocks

The name is a bit of a misnomer.  There was no actual Massacre, although a few settlers  (10 by some accounts) were killed by Native Americans who felt threatened by all the wagons coming through their land.  It was actually named Massacre Rocks in the early 1900’s as a way to promote the area for tourism.   The area did have a lot of Native Americans along this part of the Oregon Trail, and settlers were wary of meeting them, fearing Shoshone attacks.

Area Map


The Great Flood 14,500 Years Ago

No, Jeff did not witness this flood.

As the glaciers were retreating from the last Ice Age melt-water formed a great lake called Lake Bonneville.  The Great Salt Lake is the largest remnant of this ancient lake and this is where Bonneville Salt Flats gets its name from.  At its largest the lake was bigger and deeper than Lake Michigan.  About 14,500 years ago erosion ripped open part of the lake disgorging 1,000 cubic miles of water in the space of months.  For a while it created a huge waterfall on the other side of the Snake River from Massacre Rocks State Park.  The gorge from the waterfall is impressive to see.

Register Rock

This area of the Snake River provided Native Americans and pioneer settlers a natural route to travel east and west.  The Shoshone Indians populated this area in the 1800’s when pioneers were heading west.  Wagon ruts can still be seen around the area of Massacre Rocks – the interstate actually runs along the Oregon Trail here.  Register Rock has  many carved names of the pioneers that were heading west on the Oregon Trail.

Walking, Exploring, Relaxing at Massacre Rocks State Park

After a hectic week at the FMCA Rally in Gillette it was nice to enjoy the sites around American Falls and Massacre Rocks State Park.  We took the dogs down to a boat ramp for an old-dog swim (they got wet, then back to shore).  There are trails where we walked and biked, flew the drone and caught up on reading.

The park has lots of walking and biking trails along with Register Rock.  It is close to Interstate 86, and we got a spot up on a hill overlooking the Snake River that is a little farther away from the freeway.  The campsites are spread out, campground very clean and nice.

Next up – we are excited to go to another Idaho State Park – one that has an observatory!  Happy Trails and see you on the road.


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