City of Rocks National Reserve

Sculpted by Nature

Our day was filled with a scenic drive and adventurous hike at the City of Rocks National Reserve, just north of the Utah border. We parked near the trailhead, leaving our car behind, as the dirt road ahead seemed only suited for four-wheel-drive vehicles. The short walk to the top rewarded us with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

The City of Rocks Natural Reserve shows a landscape with towering granite spires and fertile plains; seemingly sculpted by an unseen hand. However, it is a testament to millions of years of geological forces working together, like weathering, erosion, and mass wasting. Weathering breaks down rocks through physical and chemical processes. Erosion carries away the broken pieces by wind, water, or ice. Mass wasting involves the downhill movement of rock and soil, sometimes slowly like a creep or dramatically like a landslide.

Etched in Stone

Standing amidst these towering granite formations, it’s easy to understand why emigrants on the California Trail nicknamed this area “the silent city of rocks.” We spotted several historical engravings left behind by these early travelers, adding an actual layer of human history to this captivating natural wonder.

Our original plan was to explore the northwest side of the reserve, but a thick blanket of snow covering the dirt road there forced us to change course. Recognizing the limitations of our car and prioritizing safety, we turned back and exited the preserve the way we came in.


Sunday, April 4, 2021


2.80 miles

Moving Time

1:03:35 hours


70 °F, gentle breeze, sunny