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Hell's Half Acre Restaurant.
Portal to Hell's Half Acre -- the Restaurant.

Hell's Half Acre

Field review by the editors.

Powder River, Wyoming

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-foot-deep gorge -- covering 320 acres total (despite its catchy name) 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.

Inside Hell's Half Acre restaurant.

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 once stood at the scenic overlook, advertised by a sign with a pointy-toed devil. The sign also promised you'd find a bar and souvenirs inside. Unfortunately, all that remained of Starship Troopers was 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 climbed down into the canyon you could still find spent blank shells from the production, along with the occasional bone where buffalo ran off the cliffs.

Hell's Half Acre.

After the restaurant closed in 2005 and was bulldozed, a six-foot-high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire was erected between the parking lot and the eerie, snake-infested gorge. It has remained that way, visible but officially off-limits, ever since, although local tourism boosters have said that they are working to reopen it to the non-vehicular public, possibly in 2024, or at least some time before the dystopian future world of Starship Troopers.

Hell's Half Acre

Hell's Half Acre Rd, Powder River, WY
On the south side of US Hwy 20/26, either 5.5 miles west of the hamlet of Powder River, or 54.5 miles east of the 20/26 split in Shoshoni.
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