Minidoka County High Point Trip Report

Bear Den Butte

Date: September 1, 1997
Author: John Mitchler
Rating: 5 star
Owner: BLM

General: A specatular cinder cone in the middle of a sage desert with impenetrable lava flows. Remote, rugged, beautiful, unique, geologic, fun hiking.

Approach: I drove south from Crater of the Moons NM and exited south at Kimama. Take US 20/26/93 west from COM NM and before you reach Carey, watch for Laidlaw Park Rd which is on the left (south) at an acute angle to the highway. If your car is gassed and you have water, compass, and survival items, then grip the steering wheel and take Laidlaw Park Rd east for 13 miles through textbook lava flows and open range. Stay right at any forks and observe broad Laidlaw Butte as you pass around it to your right (south and then west). I forget if the Blaine - Minidoka county line is marked.

Using every skill of observation you have, watch for a crude landing strip and turn left (east) on a dirt road through sage. After 1.2 miles you'll reach a poor excuse of a lake, Aspitarte Lake, on your left (north). Pass by it. I did not notice the dirt roads to the left and right as shown on the topo. At mile 2.3 bear left (east) and ignore the faint two track that extends straight south. At this point you'll be coming around the south terminus of a lava flow that fingers out from the massive flows of COM NM. The road comes travels right by it. Wow. At mile 3.2 you come to Point Lake and the proverbial fork in the road. Bear left (northish) and cruise across desolate country to mile 5.3 where you come to a jeep trail that goes right (south). Stay left and head north to Bear Den Butte. At mile 7.9 you'll see a sign Wilderness Study Area.

Apparently BLM is deciding whether this should be preserved. It ought to be a National Park. Very desolate and if it weren't for the easy access COM NM nearby, this would be a great place to come and study geologic processes. The brushy sage gets rather high around the base of the Butte (actually a cinder cone). It is possible to go cross-country in a 4x4 up the east slope of the cone but that seems damaging to the terrain and it isn't that high of a climb (100'). Instead, continue north on the dirt road and at mile 8.3 observe another sign. Bear left and at mile 9.1 stop at the lava flow, park, and strike south towards the north slope of the "butte." The cinder cone has it's south rim blown out, possible by flow activity. The west rim has Aa lava structures. A tall cairn serves as a bird of prey table and was covered with bees feasting on the remains of bird kill. I left the area by driving 7.9 miles back to the landing strip. I zeroed the odometer and turned left (south) on the Kimama-to-Carey Rd. and went 10.4 miles to the Laidlaw Corrals. I continued south on the Carey-Kimama Rd. to mile 22.2 which was the first cross road in the agricultural land around Kimama. I went another two miles or so and curved right and continued on into Kimama. Don't expect much here. At mile 33.5 you hike ID 24. If you're clever you can continue south to the Jerome Co. HP. I did.