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Inside the famous rock map dating back thousands of years


Just a short drive from Boise sits a large rock that is believed to have guided people thousands of years ago. Today, Map Rock is another artifact showcasing Idaho’s rich history.

Located near Melba by Celebration Park is a large basalt rock with a petroglyph map carved into its surface. According to the Visit Idaho website, historians believe the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe drew the map showing the route along the Snake and Salmon rivers as well as the animals roaming the area as far back as 12,000 years ago.

“Map Rock Petroglyphs are unusual in both their intensity and quality,” the historical site marker sign notes. “They serve as representational and unique examples of rock art.”

The map, which was first discovered in 1872, is believed to have been an important guide for those traveling along the river.

“It was suggested to have been a guide to prehistoric and historic people. Rock carvings are found along game or fishing grounds and in areas with wild plant foods,” the sign notes. “Map Rock is believed to be carved by the prehistoric people to induce success in hunts or other activities.”

Map Rock in canyon county. Photo courtesy:

It wasn’t until relatively recently in 2012 that Canyon County acquired the rock and the 34 acres surrounding it.

While map rock is the most famous and well-known, there are hundreds of other rock petroglyphs and pictographs that can be found in the area.

To get to Map Rock from Nampa, head south on Highway 45, turn right on Map Rock Road and drive 7.3 miles.

The site, which had some upgrades in 2018 for anglers and hunters, now has a boat ramp, parking areas, outhouses, solar-powered lighting and walk-in access to the Snake River. While camping isn’t allowed in the area, it’s open year-round.

Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly is a reporter for BoiseDev. She's an Emmy-winning journalist, and a professor at the College of Western Idaho. Contact her at [email protected].

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