Hell’s Half Acre

A while back I wrote about a hike Sue and I took up “Death Valley”. Today we visited another somber-sounding piece of Idaho real estate, which we found to be quite beautiful.

North of here, between Blackfoot and Idaho Falls, Interstate 15 crosses the very edge of an ancient lava flow known as “Hell’s Half Acre”. For a couple miles, the landscape on either side of the freeway changes from a carefully groomed smooth, open, green to rugged, rocky and wild.

At a rest stop in the midst of this, the BLM has created a set of paved interpretive trails that allow visitors to experience the landscape close up.

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This is a rough, rugged landscape. A lot of bare, black, basalt lava with scattered juniper trees and sage brush.

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This would not be easy country to cross. As the surface of the lava cooled, it hardened. As the still-hot lava beneath the surface flowed away, the surface was left unsupported and it collapsed, leaving a rough, tumble-down terrain.

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Above, you see that as the surface of the flowing lava cooled and hardened, it left a wrinkled, washboard appearance.

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Here you can see the struggle plants have to live here. on the right you can see some of the moss and lichen that are slowly turning the rock into soil.

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We did see some wildlife. If you look very carefully, in the very center of this photo you can see a rabbit, well camouflaged. (And a good thing too – we saw hawks circling overhead earlier.)

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Here’s a different sort of wildlife. We didn’t see the spiders, but we saw several very beautiful webs.

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And that was our afternoon. If you ever get the chance, I recommend a visit.

 

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