Craters of the Moon
National Monument and Preserve
1924: Craters of the Moon National Monument
Rating (1-5): Unrated
About the SiteOver 1,100 square miles of volcanic activity is preserved here. Three major lava fields are protected along with countless other formations along the Great Rift, a 62-mile-long zome of cracks in the earth through which mild eruptions produced small cinder cones and extensive lava flows. The Monument also contains over 25 volcanic cones, with outstanding examples of splatter cones. There are excellent examples of pahoehoe and lava, as well as rafted blocks, lava tube caves, and tree molds.
The three lava fields, knows as Craters of the Moon, Kings Bowl, and Wapi, fill most of the Monument. Some volcanic activity here is millions of years old; some spatter cones and lava flows date back only 2,000 years. The landscape is eerie and remote, although not lifeless. More than 375 species of plants and animals are found here.
What You're Going to SeeIt wouldn't surprise any visitor that NASA chose to bring astronauts here in 1969. What better place, they must have thought, to prepare the men of Apollo 14 to learn about the features they could expect to see on the moon? For visitors without NASA guidelines, a good choice is to take the 7-mile paved loop drive. Several trails wander off from this loop; some will take 30 minutes to see, some several hours, all are interesting. Don't pass up the caves, which are actually lava tubes formed when a lava flow cooled on the outside, forming a crust. Then, when the still-molten inside emptied away, the tube or cave was left behind.
Personal ObservationsOne of these days ... Hey, I have a friend in Idaho! Hmm ...
Getting ThereFrom Boise, take I-84 east 86 miles to Gooding, then go east on US 26 for 27 miles to Shoshone. Continue northeast on US 26/93 for 39 miles to Carey, and then go east on US 20 for about 23 miles, to the Monument.
Nearby AttractionsHagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is about 75 miles to the southwest. City of Rocks National Reserve is about 90 miles to the south.