Hell's Half Acre
Powder River, Wyoming
2010 Update: The store and signage reported in this story are gone; eerie snake-infested gorge remains.
"A spectacular example of wind and water erosion."
Hell's Half Acre is a geologic oddity - a craggy horseshoe-shaped gorge that drops away from an otherwise flat plain where Highway 20 runs east. The 150+ ft. deep gorge -- actually 320-acres total as it spreads south -- is filled in one section with jagged rock spires, naturally sculpted into nightmarish chaos by an ancient offshoot of the Powder River. If you drive hundreds of miles in any direction you won't find anything like it.
Alien bug planet scenes for the movie Starship Troopers (1997) were filmed here. The crew spent weeks one summer hauling props down into the hole and shooting among the gnarled rock protrusions.
Hell's Half Acre Restaurant sits at the scenic overlook, advertised by a sign with a pointy-toed devil. The sign also promises you'll find a bar and souvenirs inside.
Unfortunately, all that remains of Starship Troopers is a curling movie poster taped to the soda refrigerator. A local at the counter perked up when we mentioned the Half Acre's moment of movie glory. "They hired some of the locals as extras," the restaurant owner noted, "though mostly as dead bodies."
If you go down into the canyon you can still find spent blank shells from the production, along with the occasional bone where buffalo ran off the cliffs
Update - December 2005: The restaurant is reported closed and the parking lot chained. There are still spots where you can pull off and gaze down into Hell's Half Acre.