Nature’s Village

A Marvel in the South Hills

Story and photos by Michael Stubbs

Is it my imagination, or do these cones of volcanic tuff look like traditional Native American animal-skin homes?

Perhaps I have been deceived by my own expectations. I expected granite towers and walls, because Teepee Rocks is in the proximity of The City of Rocks. These giant grey rock formations in the South Hills beyond Oakley are not solid, not metamorphic but sedimentary. Technically, they’re pyroclastic, formed of loosely consolidated ash and volcanic sand. We can walk up the gritty, grippy inclines. But even though the sheer walls offer plentiful grips, jug-handles, and footholds, they are too soft, too crumbly to climb. Teepee Rocks is better for a sandy-path desert walk. That is what I do with Wendy and our three kids. We wander among the natural pyramids of Idaho, the volcanic ruins of the past, and discover that from a distance some of the cones, crowded together along the horizon, blurred by the desert heat and glare, really do look like a small village of teepees. The name is apt.

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