When an old cowboy searching for stray cattle wandered into a 150 foot deep canyon in the middle of the Wyoming prairie and looked around him at the rugged landscape of alkali marshes, ominous caves, and steep cliffs, who can blame him for thinking he had stumbled into Hell’s half acre. From his perspective, it probably seemed just like that. You would be hard-pressed to find a more inhospitable looking place.
Located about 40 miles northwest of Casper on Highways 20/26 in Natrona County, the dramatic landforms were created by upheavals in the Earth’s crust over fifty million years ago. People knew it by many names: the Devil’s Kitchen, the Pits of Hades, and the Baby Grand Canyon, but Hell’s Half Acre was the one that stuck. Whatever you call it, the 300 acre canyon is breathtaking and a sight you won’t soon forget.
Indians drove herds of buffalo over the canyons edges and arrowheads and buffalo bones have been found there. There are reports that buffalo weren’t the only creatures that died at the hands of the Indians. Two stories tell of settlers or prospectors who strayed into the canyon and were ambushed.
Given the eerie look of the place and its history, it’s probably not surprising that there are otherworldly stories here, too. One is about a beautiful young Indian maiden who lost her love in battle, and now spends eternity wandering through the canyon in search of him. They say that she protects the area and wards off evil spirits. Others have reported seeing and hearing the ghost of the thousands of buffalo who were slaughtered here over the years. And then there is the hulking dark figure of something, be it man or beast, that is rumored to inhabit the canyon’s dark caves.
If the place looks familiar to you, it may be because scenes from the movie Starship Troopers were filmed here. Hell’s Half Acre was the setting for the alien planet Klendathu, home to giant fighting war bugs.
For years a hotel and restaurant stood at the canyon’s entrance, but they have closed and the canyon is now fenced off so no one can enter. But you can still go to the fence and see just how amazing this place is and take photographs. If you are driving through the area, it’s well worth a stop.
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Thought For The Day – The reason Mayberry was so peaceful and quiet was because nobody was married. Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney, Floyd, Howard, Goober, Gomer, Sam, Earnest T Bass, Helen, Thelma Lou, Clara and, of course, Opie were all single. The only married person was Otis, and he stayed drunk.