Idaho is home to quite a few mysterious and quirky places hidden in plain sight. Over the years, we’ve introduced you to dozens of them: ghost towns, hillsides lined with mysterious numbers, unexplained concrete arrows pointing the way across the state…


There are plenty of “cool secret locations” spread across our state, but there was one in particular that grabbed the attention of Reader’s Digest. Their travel team set out with the goal of finding “The Coolest Secret Location in Each State.” Before reading the article, we really expected one of the places we introduced you to on our list of Idaho’s 10 Most Intriguing and Mysterious Places Hiding in Plain Sight to represent our state. 

10 of Idaho's Most Mysterious Places Hiding in Plain Sight

Idaho is full of strange and mysterious places. These are 10 that are fairly visible if you know where to look!

Idaho's "Coolest Secret Location" Revealed

Those are all "cool" somewhat secret locations so we were shocked when they saw their pick. It’s somewhere so secret that we’ve never stumbled across the name before. They picked Black Magic Canyon, a slot canyon located north of Shoshone. When you first see images of what’s hiding in the canyon, you feel like you’ve been transported to a fantasy landscape of a distant planet or some sort of dystopian future. What you’re really looking at is a jaw-dropping piece of Idaho’s geological history.

According to Visit Southern Idaho, the black basalt walls were originally formed by the Shoshone Lava Flow. When an eruption happened at Black Butte Crater, it filled the Big Wood River’s channel and forced the river to find a new way to flow. When this diversion happened more than 10,000 years ago, the river carved through the volcanic rock forming the canyon.

In a video tour of the canyon, geology professor Shawn Willsey explains gravel the river carried was harder than the basalt rock, so as river water forcefully pushed it through, it would cut through the walls, helping to form these incredible formations and potholes.

Water still flows through the canyon today, but not quite the same way. Irrigation water flows through the canyon during a significant portion of the summer. That’s why you should ALWAYS contact the Big Wood Canal Company BEFORE attempting to hike the canyon. If you’re down there while water is being released, you could get trapped in a potentially deadly flood. Read that again warning again. 

This is an adventure best taken in late August, fall or the winter months. Visit Southern Idaho has directions on how to best access Black Magic Slot Canyon HERE. If you do choose to visit Idaho’s “coolest secret location” be a good steward to the land and find it better than you find it. Don’t leave trash down there. Don’t vandalize the rocks. Leave no trace.

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