Idaho Off-Road Adventures – June 2017… Big Southern Butte

Living in an area that receives snow, we plow parking lots for extra money.  One of the perks of plowing snow, is a Kawasaki side by side UTV.  It plows snow in the winter, but you can explore our area in the summer.

For our first outdoor adventure, the first of June  we took advantage of a nice sunny day and headed to an area west of Idaho Falls, Big Southern Butte. It is located in the Snake River plain high mountain desert.  This is an area that is covered in sagebrush.

You travel thru the small community of Atomic City, named for the nearby nuclear research facility. Once in Atomic City, follow the signs.



However, it is obvious which direction you need to go as Big Southern Butte looms in the distance.


We live about 2 hours east of Craters of the Moon National Monument, which is an impressive lava flow.  As part of the volcanic activity that occurred to create the Craters of the Moon, it also created 4 lava domes.  These are formed from the slow push of lava to the surface. Big Southern Butte consists of 2 of the lava domes while Twin Buttes are the other two lava domes.  Big Southern Butte is the largest and youngest.

From desert floor to the summit, the butte rises 2500 feet.  To reach the summit, you follow a narrow, steep, rough at time, road.

Once on the butte road, you can’t get lost as there is only one road.  Thankfully, we only encountered 5 other vehicles all day.

The wildflowers were in bloom….

The views of the valley floor on the ride up, were absolutely awesome.

The road will take you to the top, but we encountered snow still covering the road.

So we grabbed the lunch box and hiked the rest of the way to the top.  Unfortunately, we had to hike through a patch of prickly bushes.  (Definitely, finding a different way back down)


The top of Big Southern Butte, has a parking lot, fireplace, and communication towers.

Views of the Twin Buttes….

And more fantastic views of the surrounding desert and mountains.

After eating lunch, we decided to walk down the road and cross the snow field.

It was a bit steeper than we expected and very slippery.  So we took our time and really made sure that our footing was set before proceeding.

There is a hang glider launch area about 3/4 of the way up.  The parking area is nice, but the final part of the road is a bit sketchy, so we left the UTV and walked the steep incline.

We took our time descending the steep road.  We had taken the southern road around the butte in the morning, so decided to take the northern valley road back.   The snow on the left at the top of the butte, is the one that we crossed on our hike back down from the top.

We had never been to the top of Great Southern Butte, even though we had driven by it numerous times.  This was a great day trip.

Coming soon, in our next post… Idaho Off-Road Adventures-Heise Area, we will have our video compilation of our 3 June outdoor outings.

Categories: adventure, family, fun, Idaho

Tagged as: , , , ,