Our part of the world has so much to offer when it comes to outdoor adventure and yet, we’re often unaware of what is available right under our noses.
Don and Deane Cottle are on the way to Yellowstone to celebrate their 40th anniversary. It’s an annual trip that includes a stop at the Hell’s Half Acre Rest Area, but not for the reason you probably expect.
Don Cottle says, “We know these trails are here and we just stop and enjoy them.”
Unlike most interstate rest areas, this one nestled in the craggy black lava beds of over 220 square miles of volcanic remains has its own attraction. It’s a trail system that stretches up into the terrain giving visitors a unique view of the geography. And even with its incredible geographic formations, many who live right here in eastern Idaho have never experienced it.
Marie Rasmussen, BLM Outdoor Education Coordinator says, “In all honesty, I grew up in this area and you know I’d commute back and forth and of course now I’d say oh look the lava beds but I never really realized there was a trail here until I actually started working for the BLM. You stop here along the way and you see the paths but I don’t think people take advantage to go and see what it really is.”
The Hell’s Half Acre trails are at both the north and south side rest areas. They consist of several paved interpretive paths that range in length from about a quarter mile to a mile and a half, as well as a larger and more rigorous trail, called 20 Mile Trail near Arco. Most of the trails are paved and can accommodate just about anyone and informational signs dot the paths giving visitors a self-guided tour.
Don Cottle says, “The signs that are here that explain the geography and everything and natural history. We really like it.”
Marie Rasmussen, BLM Outdoor Education Coordinator says, “And so there’s lava tubes, lava caves, lava fissures and a lot of cool stuff and dependent upon the different soil that’s around here there will be a lot of different plants will be in here. So there are of course, mule deer, there’s prong horn sheep out here. There’s lots of different birds, there’s of course varmints, there’s snakes that call it home, there’s coyotes, there the whole of Hell’s Half Acre is about 166 thousand acres and so that homes a lot of different animals.
So, instead of busily racing to get from one part of our valley to the other, why not make this your destination rather than just a stop along the way.
Marie Rasmussen, BLM Outdoor Education Coordinator says, “It’s a great day trip. What, it’s about, it took us about 10 to 15 minutes here out of town. Mornings are beautiful. There’s a lot of mourning doves and different kinds of wildlife that you can see, as well as the sunsets I think are very pretty out here because it kind of cascades over the landscapes and you can see a lot of different fun colors.”
And for a fun activity for the kids, you can pick up Junior Explorer Trekking Volcanos Activity Books at the BLM office that have all types of fun activities that you can do while you’re on the trails.