Located along the Snake River west of American Falls,
Massacre Rocks State Park features a famous configuration of boulders along
the south bank of the Snake, known alternatively as Massacre Rocks, "Gate
of Death", or "Devil's Gate."
A famous spot along the
California Trail during the middle 19th century, emigrants gave this
name to the narrow passage of the trail through the rocks, from the fear
of possible ambush by
Americans. According to diaries of emigrants, settlers in five wagons
just east of the rocks on August 9th and 10th, 1862.
Ten emigrants died in the fight, which involved four wagon trains. The
skirmishes actually took place east of the park and not at Devilís Gate as
commonly believed, but the undeserved name stuck.
Actually settlers and
the natives made use of the area for generations because the Snake
River is accessible and relatively gentle in this part of its run, and
the violent episodes were the exception, not the rule.