They say being flexible is the key to adventure. So, when an experienced local offers you the chance to ride some deep pow in the backcountry, you say YES! In fact, you say HELL YEAH! With permanent grins stuck on our faces, we descended quickly down from the Albion Range in southern Idaho. The problem? The sun was setting, and we had no idea if we would pass a grocery store or for that matter make it to the glamping Idaho yurt at City of Rocks National Reserve. And so… the adventure begins.
Not A Single Thing Open…
Making a right at the bottom of the pass, we say goodbye to Pomerelle Mountain Resort and head south on ID-77. Looking over to our right, the massive peaks where we had just been were covered in a beautiful white blanket. The sun was barely glinting over the horizon making us a bit nervous. Cutting through the town of Almo, not a single thing was open including the gas station. Even the steakhouse was closed since it was mid-winter. Oh boy! Luckily, we packed lots of snacks in the truck. We’d be good enough for the night with a gourmet dinner of PB&J and some trail mix.
Dusk … And We’re Lost
Making the final turn, we slowly ascend to the campground. I step out of the vehicle and walk towards the map of the campsites. The engine hums quietly as I survey the scene using the car’s headlights. We’re at the wrong site! It’s one road over as I suddenly hear a lone coyote howl in the far distance. Images of Dusk ‘til Dawn pop in my head. With a new plan set, we quickly turn around and head back to the main road.
Glamping Idaho Yurt At City Of Rocks … A Thing Of Beauty
Following the road past the lodge, the yurt appears in the distance. Shutting off the ignition, we step out of the truck and take in a deep breathe of fresh air. Absorbing the full panorama around us, we realize we’re the only ones in the valley for miles. To our West are huge mountains that resemble the Sierra Nevada near Reno. To our East is a long gorgeous meadow covered in sagebrush and bushes that seems to go on forever with another mountain range in the distance.
Luxury In Isolation
Stepping into the warm cozy yurt, we’re greeted to modern comfort. The yurt is spacious and decorated like a master suite at a high-end resort. The floors are hand-scraped hardwood that look handcrafted. On one side is a table big enough to fit two, a refrigerator, and coffee maker. In the center is a king size bed. You feel luxurious yet away from civilization. Adding to the serenity is a babbling brook that can be heard running its course around the yurt. Breathing a big sigh… now THIS is what I call camping or rather glamping Idaho – style. A restful night without waking up with a stiff neck and back.
Coyotes & The Most Glorious Sky Ever
As we slowly get ready for bed, we decide to go back outside for a moment. Standing out on the deck, we look up. While the Dark Sky Reserve is hundreds of miles to our North, the evening sky was breathtaking. The clearest most beautiful full moon lit up the valley and the surrounding mountains like it was a flashlight. The smell of fresh sage and the sound of the stream merrily bounce off the river stones giving us a sense of zen. Abruptly, a band of coyotes began to howl, yip, and laugh in what seemed a bit closer than comfortable. It was time to adjourn for the night.
Sipping our coffee on the deck on the glamping Idaho yurt and eating a quick breakfast, we gazed at the peaks in the distance. From the bit of recon we had done, these peaks would be covered in epic snow. Not this year. With only a handful of people in the region and nearly none of them being backcountry skiers, the thought of coming back was enticing. Today though, our plan was to head into the City Of Rocks National Reserve.
A Moon Landscape
Throwing all our gear back into the truck, we made our way towards the City of Rocks entrance. The smooth asphalt path quickly disappeared and became a dirt road as we crested over the summit into the main valley. Geological anomaly is an understatement. We pulled aside for a moment and took in the view. The flat valley was covered in tall granite spires making it resemble a city of rocks… hence the name. Some of these formations are hundreds of feet tall with many of them climbable. In fact, with over a 1,000 routes available, it’s no wonder it’s considered one of the best places for climbing in the country.
When To Visit
A few years ago after we’d visited the City of Rocks in the winter, we decided to head back to see what it’s like in the summer. While it can get quite warm during the heat of summer, it’s more of a high desert climate. When we were there, it was in the upper 80’s so to beat the heat we did our activities in the early morning or evening. In a normal year, September through November typically provides the nicest weather. And per the rangers, spring is also a good time to come.
Things To Do
Besides the world-class rock climbing, there’s a great selection of hiking and mountain biking trails. Depending on how big of a day you’re looking for, there’s a host of different varied loops you can create. From a cycling perspective, the singletrack may not be super techy or flowy but what it lacks in those areas, it more than makes up for in scenery and adventure.
Option: From the visitor’s center, head south approximately ½ mile to the City of Rocks Road & make a right. Continue on the road just over 2.5 miles past the City of Rocks National Reserve until you get to Circle Creek Overlook Road (it’s gravel). Make a right and follow the one lane road until it ends at a parking lot with a bathroom. From here, you can explore the area. For more information, the City of Rocks Visitor Center has a map of bike trails available to help you navigate the over 14,000 acres within the reserve.
Mountain Biking Update: Per the park manager, ALL trails that are marked yellow on their maps are now considered “bikeable”, which means there’s even more to explore!
Regardless of time of year, if you’re looking for a fun glamping Idaho getaway, you may want to consider City of Rocks National Reserve. You’ll get amazing luxury and wake up to million dollar views away from humanity.