Near Idaho Falls, the foreboding beauty of Hell’s Half Acre

Inhospitable. Desolate. Disorienting. And, hot as hell in the summer. That’s how I’d describe the Lava Trail System, formerly known as Hell’s Half Acre, but I’d be leaving out its undeniable ravishing beauty.

Hell’s Half Acre is an area formed by a lava flow about 4,000 years ago. It actually encompasses 162,000 acres or 220 square miles.  It’s a vast expanse of glass-sharp lava rock, camouflaged fissures that drop beneath you from 2 feet to over 20 feet, lava tubes, caves, and cactus. Apparently there’s a 20 miler you can do here. No thanks. Just traversing a couple miles was painstaking and torturous. It’s worth a stop, but it’s definitely hiking for the hardy, determined and well-equipped. There were blue and red wood posts for trail markers, but you could stare into the distance in all directions and not see one.  (Granted, I’m visually challenged, but I was wearing my glasses.) Having just visited the spectacular geothermal pools at Biscuit Basin, Yellowstone, the 4 1/2 mile traverse to the main vent here held no allure. There were yahoos shooting shotguns close by, which was a bit off putting as well. Besides, I had Sun Valley on my mind and miles to cover on the road yet.

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I reached Hell’s  Half Acre via Highway 20, but there’s an interpretive trail and paved paths if you access it by the 1-5.

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