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Established in 1967
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Gate of Death and Devil's Gate were names given to this area during the Oregon Trail period. These names referred to a narrow break in the rocks through which the trail passed. Emigrants apparently feared that Indians might be waiting in ambush.
Diaries record a series of skirmishes between the Shoshone Indians and emigrants on August 9 and 10, 1862. Ten emigrants died in the fight, which involved five wagon trains.
The skirmishes took place east of the park and not at Devil's Gate as commonly believed. Some confrontations may have occurred there, but they remain unverified.
The Massacre Rocks State Park was created to preserve the geology, ecology and historical geography of this segment of the Snake River Plain.
Oregon Trail pioneers used the Register Rock area as a "rest stop" for years. Many emigrant names are inscribed on the large rock, which is now protected by a weather shelter. A scenic picnic area surrounds the rock, creating a desert oasis for the modern traveler.
Oregon Trail remnants are most easily seen from highway rest areas in either end of the park. Other settlers artifacts can also be found.
The park is rich in geological history. Volcanic evidence is everywhere.
The Devil's Gate Pass is all that remains of an extinct volcano. Towering
cliffs of basalt provide
fantastical formations throughout the park.
The prehistoric Bonneville Flood also shaped the landscape of the area, rolling and polishing the huge boulders found throughout the park. The flood was caused when eroding waters broke through Red Rock Pass near the Idaho/Utah border.
Lake Bonneville, which covered much of what is today the state of Utah, surged through the pass and along the channel of the Snake River in a few short months. For a time, the flow was four times that of the Amazon River. It was the second largest flood in the geologic history of the world.
Plant & Animals
Massacre Rocks State Park is a favorite for bird watchers. Over 200 species of birds have been sighted in the park. Canada geese, grebes, bald eagles, pelicans, and blue herons are often seen.
Mammals include the cottontail, jack rabbit coyote, muskrat, and beaver.
The desert environment produces about 300 species of plants in the park. The most common are sagebrush Utah juniper, and rabbit brush.