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City of Rocks Byway
"It is fantastic climbing. You are on solid granite rock, you have the features on the rock that we refer to as patina that make for really nice big handholds. . . . You also have this type of friction climbing where there's nothing to hold onto and it's a just a matter of keeping the co-existence of yourself in motion and kind of going up as quickly as you can before you slide off. That's a real unique thing here. . . . And the beautiful camping area makes it one of the destination climbing areas in the country for families and intermediate climbers."
This backcountry loop runs for nearly fifty miles from Albion to Oakley. It circles the Albion Mountain Range and passes through the City of Rocks National Reserve. Just south of the town of Albion travelers can turn off to the Pomerelle Ski Area and the Lake Cleaveland Recreation Area. The Howell Canyon Road Climbs from the Albion Valley to the high country of the Sawtooth National Forest for both summer and winter activities. Further south on the byway near Connor Creek visitors can see markers for the California Trail, the route thousands of emigrants followed on their journey west.
One of the next highlights along this route is Castle Rocks State Park, one of Idaho's newest parks. The 1,240 acre park near Almo features granite spires much like those found in the nearby National Reserve. In fact, the visitor center for the Reserve is in the ranching community of Almo.
The City of Rocks National Reserve is the heart of this byway. The area offers more than 700 climbs with varying degrees of difficulty. Technical rock climbers come from all around the world to test themselves on the towering granite spires of the Reserve. And there's plenty of history here too. The California trail passed through this area and emigrants marked their names in axel grease on the rocks. A series of exhibits in the Reserve describe the massive migration that took place in the 19th century. Travelling northwest the last stop on the byway is the historic town of Oakley. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places and it features numerous old stone and wood framed buildings.