40 MI NW OF CASPER ON HWY 20/26
Natrona County, WY
Hell's Half Acre - a geological masterpiece.
To those who have not experienced Hell's Half Acre, the name would suggest a small parcel of land, when in fact, the half acre encompasses more than 300 acres in the middle of the Wyoming prairie, flanked by mountains and valleys. Over fifty million years ago, the Earth was shifting and wreaking havoc. Left behind the restless movements of aging Earth were depressions and breaks in the land.
Hell's Half Acre is one such eternal depression, complete with jutting rocks, chilling caves and vast valleys.
Explorers to the West were no doubt in awe of of this rare and exciting landform. Who would expect such an out-of-this-world geological event amidst formidable mountains and alkali marshes?
Why "Hell's Half Acre" then? History says that this geological masterpiece was known as "The Devil's Kitchen", "The Pits of Hades", and "The Baby Grand Canyon" until a cowhand appeared and thought he was at Hell's Half Acre, an area southwest of Casper full of alkali and bogs. How could he not tell the difference between bogs and a 300 acre canyon, no one knows. He called it Hell's Half Acre and the name stuck. It's been the world famous Hell's Half Acre ever since, but no matter the name, label, or title you give this landmark, it is a truly fascinating and utterly breathtaking formation in the middle of desolate country.
The landscape is so alien that part of the movie "Starship Troopers" was filmed in this local. Hell's Half Acre was the backdrop for the alien planet Klendathu inhabited by gargantuan, vicious, fighting war bugs.
There are many stories haunting the hills and lurking in the shadows. The ghost of a beautiful young Indian woman moves freely through the canyons, protecting the area and warding off evil. The spirits of tens of thousands of buffalo who perished by plummeting off cliffs now roam the deserted range. It is rumored that a mysterious, dark, unsocial figure lurks inside one of the many dark and labyrinth-type caves. This eerie shadow has been seen by many a weary traveler along Wyoming Highway 20/26, leaving them with the impression that 'something' is there.
President Coolidge can be credited with granting Natrona County the 960 acres encompassing Hell's Half Acre to designate this part located 40 miles northwest of Casper on Highway 20/26.
[Information courtesy of article in Radio Active Magazine, October 2003]