A Scenic Beauty in the Balance

Published online: Nov 18, 2021 Articles, Lifestyle, Road Trips
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Shaped like a colossal question mark near the central Idaho hamlet of Castleford, the world-famous landscape formation of Balanced Rock is a sight to behold. This geologic oddity is the centerpiece of its own namesake county park. You can find it 180 miles southwest of Idaho Falls. It’s also just a stone’s throw from other attractions, which should make for a great late-autumn road trip.

Like many rocks dotting the landscape around Salmon Falls Creek, Balanced Rock is the result of ancient volcanic activity and the supplemental work of wind and erosion that has carved its shape over thousands of years. It’s not the only formation of its kind, but it has some obvious attributes that make it a uniquely qualified photo-op. 

The curiously shaped structure smacks of a small, upside-down mountain. It measures 48 feet wide at the top but only 3 feet, 17 inches at its base. (Think of a 40-ton Brontosaurus sitting on top of a portable restroom. Seriously, the proportions are that crazy.) It’s a formidable sight from the parking area at the base of the hill, and even more so after you make your way up to the structure. Steel yourself for a short but very steep 1-mile hike. Access is easy once you reach the base of the rock.

The nearby Balanced Rock Park is owned and maintained by Twin Falls County. It features a large pavilion for rent, plus a few picnic areas. Camping is gratis, but you won’t find any RV hookups. Unlike the barren landscape around the rock and its adjacent formations of rhyolite obelisks, the park is a lush oasis nestled along the banks of Salmon Falls Creek. 

Public restrooms can be found here, along with two launch points for canoes or kayaks. 

En route to Balanced Rock, be sure to check out the beautiful scenery of the Snake River Canyon around Twin Falls. The area’s signature tourist attraction is Shoshone Falls, but by November it will have lost much of its cascading splendor. Even so, its canyon setting is still an amazing sight. It extends for more than 50 miles and features the famous Perrine Bridge—a magnet for BASE jumpers from around the world. Also consider a stroll or bike ride along the 10-mile paved path along the southern rim of the canyon.

Other local attractions include the Hagerman State Fish Hatchery, Niagra Springs and Malad Gorge State Park. (The latter is a true scenic marvel that is often overlooked by travelers zipping by on their westward treks to Boise.)

Balanced Rock may not be the grand attraction that lures tourists by the thousands, and that is part of its quiet charm. Take your time, and make a day of exploring the rock, the park and its many neighboring gems

Directions: From Buhl, head south onto 1400 East until you reach 3700 North. Turn right, and eventually the route becomes Balanced Rock Road, which will lead you down into Salmon Falls Creek Canyon. Balanced Rock is on the north side of the road. Hard to miss! 


For More Information

Balanced Rock County Park

Phone: 208-734-9491

Pavillion Reservations: twinfallscounty.org


Area Restaurants

Pizza Planet

208-543-8560

One of the best local pizza joints in the region, this family owned eatery features hand-tossed dough made daily, generous portions for toppings and a delicious homemade ranch sauce.

Jarrito’s

208-735-2288

This Mexican restaurant offers up delicious chicken quesadillas, taco salads and stuffed burritos. It’s a local favorite and highly rated on Yelp.

Magic Valley Brewing

208-420-6021

You’ll love the in-house, regional and national microbrews, as well as the taproom decor. They also make a great Reuben sandwich, among other sandwiches and snacks.

Old Home Cooking 

208-543-4588

This unique hometown cafe and gift shop serves breakfast and lunch, plus a planned dinner menu on Mondays. They also sell frozen casseroles, cinnamon rolls and bread.

Click here to read more of the November issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.

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