Visited: August 2019
Location: Arco, Idaho
Accommodations: Silver Creek Hotel, Bellevue, Idaho
Duration: 2-4 hours
Lava rocks gallore. Lava comes from volcanoes, but there isn’t a volcano here in sight at Craters of the Moon National Monument??? The lava here at this park came from a series of deep fissures known as the Great Rift. Starting more than 15,000 years ago lava emerged up from the Great Rift to produce an ocean of rock here in the Snake River Plain. The most recent eruption happened 2,000 years ago, and geologists believe that more events in the future may still happen.
Here at Craters of the moon you will learn all about active volcanics and how features present at this park are formed. Spatter cones, cinder cones, lava tube, kipukas, fissures and rifts all combine to erupt with life and give us a spectacular National Monument in the middle of Idaho.
How to explore Craters of the Moon:
There are 7 stops on the 7 mile loop road that you drive, starting at the Visitor Center. Here we grabbed Junior Ranger books, did a Junior Ranger Patio Talk outside, and viewed the park film and exhibits.
Stop 2: North Crater Flow, a .3 mile trail that crosses a lava flow.
Stop 3: Devils Orchard Nature Trail, here there is a short walk through lava fragments.
Stop 4. The Inferno Cone, Hunter and I walked to the top while Grandma and Gunnar sat in the car and worked on the Junior Ranger booklet. It was a moderate hike up and down, with some cool overlooks at the top. Here you can see cinder cones lined up along the Great Rift.
Pretty impressive from above, I would suggest doing the steep, but short .2 mile hike up the hill.
Stop 5. Spatter Cones and Big Craters Area, miniature volcanoes, one had snow inside of it which impressed my children since it was the beginning of August 🙂
Stop 6. Trails to Tree Molds, Broken Top, and Wilderness. This was our turning around spot on the spur from the one way loop road. Back to the loop road we go.
Stop 7. Cave Area. Here you will see lava tubes- Dewdrop, Boy Scout, Beauty and Indian Tunnel on a .8 mile trail across lava. We opted out of this since we had just done Lava Beds National Monument and once you have seen one lava bed you learn you have seen all you need to see.
We headed back to the Visitor Center and earned our Junior Ranger badges and got the all important passport cancellation.
We are off to lunch, ice cream and our last stop in Idaho, check back for the post, it was my favorite Idaho NPS site. I will give you a hint, it “rocked”. Questions on visiting Craters of the moon?? I am more than willing to help you. Hope you have a great visit if you go, let me know what you think of it.