Sunday, near the ID/UT/NV border


Sunday at the Silent City of Rocks, Idaho (near the ID/UT/NV border). The prominent rock is the Twin Sisters (a popular climb)

The snow-capped range is the Raft River Mountains (in NW Utah very close to  the Nevada border).

I love this obscure country, and will be getting out more and more in the future. As a result this blog may need some alternative/guest editors.

Photo copyright Ralph Maughan






  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Hell, Ralph, we’re all trying to get out more!

  2. Jerry Black Avatar
    Jerry Black

    How’s the fly fishing down there, Ralph?

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Actually I think there are a few of the rare red-banded trout in a few stream sections or springs not too mucked up by livestock.

    KT would know

  4. kt Avatar

    One of THE experts on that part of ID just moved to Missouri.

    That is actually yellowstone cutthroat trout country, and they are faring poorly. look, too,at how isolated they are. It’s my understanding that redbands, like salmon and steelhead once upon a time, are not found upstream of Shoshone Falls at Twin Falls.


    Very small streams in that part of the world, and HUGE cattle grazing problems.

    That small portion of southern Idaho is also the only place in the state where pinyon pine grows (in association with Utah juniper). So the pinyon dependent birds like the pinyon jay and juniper titmice only occur there.

    Unfortunately, the pinyon and juniper has been much under assault by Burley BLM and the Forest Service (southern division of the Sawtooth Forest managed by a couple of terrible District Rangers over the past decades) who keep trying to burn and chain the trees to grow livestock forage …

  5. kt Avatar

    And here is a report by THE expert on that part of the world. Red Willow.

    Albion, Jim Sage, Cotterell …

  6. kt Avatar

    Here is the Red Willow report I forgot to attach … sorry.

  7. Ed Darrell Avatar

    I haven’t been to City of Rocks since I was in third grade (we moved out of Burley, Idaho) — it was the place I saw my first wild bobcat. It was a favorite destination, probably because teens could get out there and drink.

    Pinon under attack? Haven’t those guys heard that pinon nuts go for $/ounce? Isn’t any local tribe harvesting them to keep the Italians honest in their pesto? (I think western U.S. pinon make better pesto than the Italian stuff.)

    Is Albion still there?

  8. Zen Avatar

    Albion is still there. I haven’t been to the City of Rocks since they made it a state park and began charging admittance fees.

    Good place to camp out if you like to climb or just want to spend some time out there.

    In recent years, they have also made Castle Rocks, just to the north, a state Park too. This entire area of soft granite that has eroded into the big rocks extends for about 5 miles from Twin Sisters on the south to the lower south face of Cache Peak on the north. Ralph Maughan

  9. Matt K Avatar
    Matt K

    Great shot Ralph, nice winter sky and clouds. I was recently hiking in northern Arizona, some large desolate landscapes in high desert country, saw some amazing sunsets and colors near Wupatki National Monument.

  10. kt Avatar

    Unfortunately, BLM and the Forest now have huge fire bureaucracies who love to gain access to federal fire funds by claiming pinyon is a hazardous fuel and then justifying “treating” it, i.e. kill the trees to try to grow cow grass (and the often get cheatgrass as a result of thier treatment disturbance) in the wake of the burning or chaining treatment.

    Burley BLM, even before the Bush Hazardous Fuels funds came along, has sought to kill junipers and pinyon in every possible way. They had a massive deforestation program planned for the entire Jim Sage Range. They jumped the gun by surreptitiously doing a 1000 acre chaining under a Categorical Exclusion – and were found out when a hunter was going for a hike in his favorite spot, and came across a scene that looked like a massive explosion had occurred. See PAGE 6 … A 1000 acres ripped to pieces by bulldozers.

    In Goose Creek south of Burley BLM has done “prescribed burns” that have “escaped”. And Ely and Elko BLM in Nevada have desires to do massive pinyon juniper killing projects -paid for by we taxpayers and benefiting cattlemen.

    And you are right about American pine nuts. Most of the pine nuts sold here are from different species of pine, many actually come from China, are often picked by near-slave laborers, are treated with various nasty preservatives, etc.

    If you go to and then follow the links to the Pinenut Food Values Section, the top few stories in the Advocacy Section, History Section, etc. you can get a pretty good idea of what has been going on. Instead of treasuring pinyon in Nevada, Idaho, and Utah, it’s treated as a weed by federal agencies by and killed to benefit the livestock industry.

  11. penny frazier Avatar
    penny frazier

    I wanted to feedback about a recent deforestation project being performed under the heading of wild life improvement.
    Many wild animals, including deer need pinyon pine nuts in their diets right before winter sets in. The BLM is claiming that chaining pinyon is good for mule deer. This is about as false as it gets! It is a deforestation project to help look for oil (its easier if there are no trees). I have more at my blog

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thank you, Penny.

    I imagine the BLM is also doing it to create more for cows to eat, Nevada being such great livestock country and all.

  13. penny frazier Avatar

    They have held off on developing massive oil deposits in Nevada because of the cost. These projects are just starting to rear their heads. In Modoc County CA I understand there is a 1,000,000 acre deforestation project for biomass fuel. In Nevada there is a 70,000 acre treatment, Western Watersheds is working on it (thank you Katie Fite – super hero) I will try to get more info up on our blogs about these projects. Thank you for your work!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan