Hell’s Half Acre – Lava Trails in Idaho

Hell’s Half Acre © 2010 Bo Mackison

You never know what you will see when you are on the road. Driving south on Interstate 15 in Idaho, we pulled off in a rest area to have lunch. I went for a walk around the area to stretch my legs and discovered two hiking paths behind the visitor center – two developed trails that stretch for several miles through the lava beds.

The lava trails pass through the Snake River Plain, a desert ecosystem, that has rough terrain and contorted scenery that have been created from repeated lava flows. These are not lava flows from the nearby Yellowstone explosions, but from less violent lava flows only 4100 years old.There are many native plants growing along the trail including juniper trees, sagebrush, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush and needle and thread grasses.

Utah Juniper on Lava Bed © 2010 Bo Mackison

The area has been designated a National Natural Landmark which affords it protection from development. The rest areas on both southbound and northbound I-15 have lava trails maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. They are located about 20 miles south of Idaho Falls; the exits are each marked “Blackfoot Rest Area”.

What a great find!

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. What a find, indeed! Those are almost mystical moments, aren’t they? Great photos, Bo. Thanks for taking us along!

  2. I love the curved lines in the first photograph… the arcs formed by the clouds, terrain and trees.

  3. Quite a rest stop. Beats anything I’ve seen in Indiana and Illinois.

  4. that second shot is breathtaking to me!

  5. Earth’s movement has always fascinated me. This is truly a wonderful find.

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