A geologist's dream, this hidden gem in the heart of Wyoming features deep ravines, towering spires, hearty flora, and a riot of colors. It all adds up to an alien landscape, which is probably why it featured in Starship Troopers.
These 320-acre badlands offer the explorer a painter’s palette of towering spires striped in red, yellow, purple, and white. Hardy lichen and mosses of purple, green, and red spot the soft, white clay comprising the canvas of this hidden gem in the heart of Wyoming.
Tucked away from passersby bolting from Casper to Yellowstone National Park, this place enjoys few visitors at its rim, and nearly none among the alien formations that are Hell’s Half Acre’s calling card.
There are no trails down here, but photographers, wanderers and movie buffs (Hell’s Half Acre featured in the 1990s flick Starship Troopers) will find plenty to enjoy.
What Makes It Great
The geology in Hell’s Half Acre is similar to that of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, but on a smaller scale and with no crowds. Take your time exploring the corners of this park hidden from the view of the parking lot or, really, any sign of human life.
Everything down here is shaped by water. Look closely at the ravine floor and you can see individual raindrops from the previous storm. Dry streambeds show where the water runs off, leaving snaking patterns in the white clay. The spires have distinct bands of color – red, purple, yellow and white – but, you can also see where rain picked up the color from one band of clay and bled it into the next color.
This isn’t a place for cardio junkies. The walk is flat, aimless, and only as long or short as you’d like it to be. Hell’s Half Acre is for the photographer, the amateur geologist, the sci-fi buff who wants a bullet casing from Starship Troopers or somebody who just appreciates wild beauty in quiet places that aren’t hard to reach.
Who is Going to Love It
Photographers, explorers, day trippers, and those with the discipline to tread lightly. The delicate clay formations are easily damaged, and past wanderers have left this place intact so you could enjoy it as it is today. Please extend the same courtesy.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Drive 44.4 miles west of Casper. The ghost town of Powder River is just 5.6 miles before the parking lot. Look for signs on your left.
Don't despair when you see the intimidating chain link fence at the parking lot. Walk back east toward the picnic shelters. About a 5-minute walk along the road brings you to an old, disused paved road that drops into Hell's Half Acre. This is how the Starship Troopers crew got their equipment down into the ravine for filming. Follow it down and enjoy.