Photos
Help

Seasonality

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D

Summary

Massacre Rocks receives its name from an Indian ambush that took place back in the old days. Massacre is located on the Snake River and is a beautiful place.

Description

Massacre Rocks is a large natural area of sagebrush, ancient cedar trees, sand dunes, and box canyons sculpted by the Great Bonneville flood some 14,000 years ago. The flood carved numerous natural box canyons and 'alcoves' leaving steep rock walls ranging from 30' to 200' in height. The exposed basalt formations were originally formed from repeated volcanic activity in the Snake River Plain. The rock is high quality black, brown, and tan basalt. It is steep (sometimes overhanging) and heavily featured with edges, pockets, blocks, slopers, bulges, dihedrals, and cracks - perfect for much varied sport climbing.

There are over 750 well equipped sport routes at Massacre on more than two dozen different walls ranging from 30' to 200' in height. The average climb is about 60'. The "climb anywhere" nature of the rock has led to a high concentration of routes on most walls. Sometimes routes are as close as 5 or 6 feet apart which can make identifying routes a challenge. A good strategy is to count bolts. Once a route has been identified, it's easy to track routes to the right or left. This guide have accurate bolt counts for most route descriptions at the popular crags.

The sport climbs at Massacre typically have closely spaced bolts for pushing one’s limits. Climbs range from 5.8 to 5.13 with most being in the middle of that range. If you climb 5.10 to 5.12 and like to clip bolts, you will find a nearly endless supply of high quality sport climbing.

Some esoteric gear you may want to bring could include a snake bite kit and the knowledge of how to use it. The Snake River plain is the home of some mighty big rattlers.

For climbing you mainly need a rack of quickdraws. 16 draws should suffice on longest routes while the majority of climbs take around 5 to 8 draws. There are some natural pro lines in what is predominantly a sport climbing area. For these a standard rack of cams and nuts should do the trick.

The vast majority of routes have sport anchors which are typically an open cold shut and a steel or aluminum carabineer. This makes finishing and lowering from a route convenient. Please use your own gear if you plan to top rope the route. Occasionally, the routes will have chain anchors at the top of the climb; if in doubt always bring a couple extra draws.

There are rattlesnakes in the area though they are typically not a problem. If you bring dogs or children scope the area before settling down to climb.

It can be extremely hot at Massacre during the summer. The sand can burn bare feet. Dogs in particular can have a very tough time with the hot sand. Due to some long treks across hot sand, it is not advisable to bring dogs during summer, even if you intend to climb in the shade.

Access issues

Massacre Rocks is part of the much larger “American Falls Archaeological District” (AFAD). There are multiple land jurisdictions in both the AFAD and where climbing takes place (see BLM Map). Extensive and well documented studies of the AFAD near and around the Snake River show many cultural resources and evidence of human habitation for at least the last 13,000 years. This area is considered sacred to the local Shoshone- Bannock tribes. Be respectful and minimize your footprint and impact in the area. Keep your staging area small and contained. Pick up and pack out your trash including tape, orange or banana peels, cigarette butts, etc. Prevent your dog from digging. Don’t start or make any fires, especially near the base of cliffs.

Also, please, only park in one of the designated parking areas and respect all road closures. Sandy soils in the AFAD are prone to wind erosion. Motorized vehicles and even foot traffic can damage the fragile ecology and could destroy rare, irreplaceable evidence of 13,000 years of human habitation. When hiking to the crags use established trails and don’t short cut or braid existing trails. Use the following graphic from the BLM to understand which areas are closed to motorized travel.

Approach

The quickest and easiest way to reach the Main Wall and Owl Cove, if you have access to a boat, is to cross the Snake River at Massacre State Park. Drive about 11.5 miles west of American Falls on I-86. Take the Massacre Rocks exit, exit #28. Park your vehicle near the fee station, and portage your boat about 200 yards to the river. If you paddle straight across the river you will be near the entrance to the Owl Cove. Alternatively, you can drive to the boat ramp and boat 1/4 mile back upriver.

Two-wheel drive back roads will get you near most of the climbing. From the town of American Falls, take State Highway 39 across the American Falls Reservoir dam. Take the first left, Lamb-Weston Road. Listed mileage starts here.

0.2 miles: Turn left onto Borah Road

1.8 miles: Turn left onto Lake Channel Road, which is paved and follows the river for awhile before heading across potato fields.

13.7 miles: Turn left onto 2 track road. Follow this road for about 100 yards all the way to the fence line. A very short distance before the fence you cross another dirt road. Do not turn right yet. Go all the way to the fence and then turn right and follow the fence line until you come to a BLM gate at 14.1 miles.

14.1 miles: Turn left and go through the BLM gate (and please close it behind you). Continue along a 2 track dirt road. You will pass through a couple more gates and come to a subtle right turn at 16.5 miles. Continue right until an obvious right fork at 17.1 miles.

17.1 miles: Take the right fork and continue on a well used 2 track dirt road. 17.7 miles: P2 parking

To hike to the Outback or Main Wall, don’t take the last hard right. Take the left fork and continue about 1⁄2 mile until the road takes a sharp left. Park here at a fence line and barrier indicating the road towards the river is closed to motorized vehicles. Hike the old road. A fork left at about 3⁄4 mile leads to the river and the Outback. For the Main Wall, stay on the rim for another 1⁄2 mile before finding a weakness to the river and the Main Wall.

Where to stay

There is pleasant but primitive free camping at several locations near the parking on the west rim. Bring your own water, firewood and shovel.

Ethic

The absic infor provided here is from Massacre Rocks Climbing Guide, Updated By: © 2016 Mike Engle, Engle Portal Productions

Updates available at http://www.seiclimbing.com New Route Info: contact Mike Engle @ mike.w.engle@gmail.com

History

History timeline chart

Massacre Rocks was one of the first modern climbing areas in the United States to fully embrace the sport climbing ethic. Most of the routes here were established in the 80's and 90's.

Tags

Areas

Add area(s) Add topo Reorder Bulk edit
Name
Style
Routes
Ticks
Height
Grades
Main Wall area
112
0
95ft
Love Connection unknown area
9
0
20ft
Mighty unknown area
4
0
Pinocchio boulder
7
0
10ft
Dinosaur Egg boulder
2
0
10ft
Madre boulder
3
0
20ft
Hole 8 boulder
1
0
10ft
Hell boulder
3
0
10ft
Scenic By Way boulder
1
0
20ft
Bar Stool boulder
3
0
16ft
Outer Rim boulder
1
0
16ft

Hello!

First time here?

theCrag.com is a free guide for rock climbing areas all over the world, collaboratively edited by keen rock climbers, boulderers and other nice folks.

You can log all your routes, connect and chat with other climbers and much more...

» go exploring, » learn more or » ask us a question

Activity

Check out what is happening in Massacre Rocks State Park.

Deutsch English Español Français Italiano 한국어 中文