City of Rocks is a unique geological site, exhibiting towering granite spires (upwards of 600 feet), windows, arches, natural bridges, and numerous wind sculpted features. The area has also been designated a National Natural Landmark and a National Historical Landmark. Several miles of the California Trail (1843-1860?s) are protected within the reserve. The reserve encompasses federal, state, and private lands. Facilities include 78 campsites, group camps, horse camps, vault toilets, water pump site, 19 miles of trails and wayside exhibits. However, the area is primarily a secluded primitive experience.

Ornithological Summary

One hundred and fifty-seven species have been documented in, or adjacent to, the reserve, including Long-billed Curlew, Golden Eagle, Burrowing Owl, Sage Grouse, Prairie Falcon, Red-naped Sapsucker, Gray Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Virginia?s Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, Brewer?s Sparrow, and Pinyon Jay.

Conservation Issues

Road improvements, grazing, social trails, and campsites have all contributed to a serious erosion problem. In addition, gullification and sediment loading in riparian areas are causing loss of habitat crucial to birds. The exclusion of fire in the management of the area is a serious concern, and there are problems with introduced plants/animals and natural pests/disease. City of Rocks has mitigated some areas, but is having trouble getting ahead of the curve. In 1997, the National Park Service provided money to make headway.


City of Rocks has mitigated some areas, but can't get ahead of the curve. The National Park Service money has been made available for fiscal year 1997 in order to make headway.


Uplands consist of Juniper/Pinyon/ Mountain Mahogany; lowlands primarily Basin Big Sagebrush; protected areas around granite spires and riparian areas consist of aspen, chokecherry, balsamroot, prickly pear, and grasses. Above 7,000 feet, pockets of Douglas fir, alpine fir, lodgepole and limber pines are also found. Soils are easily eroded. Dry climate, 12-14 inches of precipitation. The temperature ranges from -17 to 101 F in recent years. The geology is Quartz monzanite granite, a 2.5 billion year old Pre-Cambrian formation.

Land Use

Economic- tourism contributes revenue to southern Cassia County.
Cultural- site protects remnants of California Trail and emigrants signatures.
Social- One of the premier rock climbing sites in this country. Local communities identify themselves with this unique resource.

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