Welcome to South Central Idaho! A place of deep canyons, productive farmlands, mysterious deserts and majestic rivers. Here the people are friendly and deeply attached to the land they call home. The air sparkles clean and fresh and so does the water. The Mini-Cassia Area is full of places for sightseeing with everything from natural wonders to historical monuments. The Snake River was very influential in the development of the area and the scenery and landmarks along its water tells its story.
The Mini-Cassia area also offers a variety of cultural activities, including several historical museums in both Minidoka and Cassia Counties, the Herrett Center for the Arts and Sciences and the King Fine Art Center. Theaters and opera houses feature plays and musical performances to enrich the mind.
The entrance of the City of Rocks National Reserve is four miles west of Almo. Established in 1988, the 14,000-acre park is a fragile environment with scenic, geological and historical significance. More recently it has gained national renown for the outstanding rock climbing it provides. Most of the more than 600 routes are located on 100 to 300 foot spires and range from 5.4 to 5.14a in difficulty. Camping, hiking, mountain biking and picnicking are also available. During the winter, the reserve is a beautiful place for a cross-county skiing adventure.
For a perfect camping, picnicking or fishing spot, consider Lake Walcott State Park only 11 miles northeast of Rupert. Paved trails connect restrooms, picnic shelters, interpretive kiosk and boat launch. This 22-acre park is the home to a variety of wildlife, including 150 species or birds and waterfowl, serving as the base for the National Wildlife Refuge. The Minidoka Power Plant, constructed in 1904, is located near the park. The dam diverts the water to a series of canals, bringing life to the desert of the Snake River Plain to the south. The dam and the power plant are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available by calling the Bureau of Reclamation office. Recent improvements at Lake Walcott Park include camping and picnicking areas, interpretive trails and horseshoe pits. The lake itself is home to world-class windsurfing, too.
Castle Rocks State Park is Idaho's newest state park featuring granite spires and peaks. Congress authorized the National Park Service to purchase the Castle Rock Ranch in November 2000. Challenge yourself to the steep rock face or take the two hour hike around the base. Either way, you will find the perfect day trip.
Not far from Lake Cleveland, situated in the Burley/Twin Falls Ranger District, Pomerelle Mountain Resort offers a challenging terrain for beginners as well as expert skiers. Open mid-November through mid-April, the facility offers both day and night skiing. Pomerelle has 22 ski runs, 2 terrain parks and has a vertical drop of 1,000' serviced by triple and double chair lifts, a rope tow and a half pipe for snowboarders. Powder skiers find much of what they like on these slopes. Cross-country skiers are welcome as the facility offers two marked trail areas. Ski rentals and lessons are available and food, drink, a warm fire and relaxation can be found in the Pomerelle's comfortable lodge. Excellent snowmobiling and a tubing hill that include parking and a warming shelter can be found one mile below the resort for no cost. Pomerelle opens in the summer, on weekends from July 4 through Labor Day to offer chairlift rides for a breath taking panoramic view of the Magic Valley. Then your choice is to ride the lift back down, mountain bike, play 9 or 18 holes of disc golf or hike/walk down to the base area.
In December 2000, President Clinton declared the Minidoka Internment Camp as a National Monument. Located in Hunt, Idaho, just north of Eden on Highway 93, the Minidoka Internment Camp was one of ten guarded camps in the west where American citizens of Japanese descent were housed during World War II. Although in 1940, approximately 60% of Idaho's Japanese were native-born Americans, 9,400 evacuees were held at this camp surrounded by barbed wire fences and towers and manned by armed guards and watch dogs. Prisoners were told they would be shot if they came within three and a half feet of the fence.
Twelve miles west of Burley off Highway 30, you will find the Milner Historic Recreation Area. The 2,055 acre site offers boat docks, picnic shelters, fishing, covered archery and trapshooting ranges. The Milner Dam was built in 1905. Several miles of the Oregon Trail has been preserved and the ruts are still visible. The Mini-Cassia area played a pivotal role in the history of America's westward expansion. It was here the emigrants reached the Raft River Crossing, where they had to decide whether to continue northwest into Oregon or head to the south and seek gold in California. Visit the Cassia County Historical Museum, where a relief map shows how the pioneer routes criss-crossed the area. Actual trail remnants are still visible throughout the region; for an example, visit the Milner Interpretive area about 10 miles west of Burley on Highway 30 (where picnic tables and a boat launch area also available.) The area is rich in wildlife so be sure to keep your eyes open as you let the area take you back to the past.
In 1920, Robert Limbert, a Boise taxidermist, trekked across 28 miles of lava flows and then convinced Congress to include the lava fields in the national park system. In 1924, President Coolidge declared 83 square miles as a National Monument. Congress established the Craters of the Moon Wilderness in 1970. Today, more than 250,000 visitor from around the world visit the reserve to see strange rock formations and explore a series of underground caves. Wildflowers of many species bloom every spring in this barren land.