IDAHO ~ Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

September 7th, 2018

Craters of the Moon

I wanted to love it. Really I did. After all, our National Park visits have been some of our most exceptional stops along our RV road trips. 

Sadly, this time I was left less than overwhelmed. I think because I am so passionate about photography, and the stark, relatively bland and colorless terrain made it challenging to take photos I was excited about.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

The park is located in south-central Idaho about halfway between Boise and Yellowstone National Park.

“Craters of the Moon is a huge national park. It is over 1,100 square miles (over 750,000 acres) which is roughly the size of Rhode Island. The young lava flows that make up the bulk of the Monument and Preserve can clearly be seen from space.” – National

Although the park is enormous, there is only one paved road across the northern end. Inside the park, there is a loop road that will take you to some of the most well-known features.

This limits exploring the park to an extent, however, by taking several short hiking trails, we were able to see examples of the primary forms, flows, caves, sagebrush, cinder and spatter cones.

The Snake River Plain volcanic area was created by a series of enormous eruptions that started some 15 million years ago. The hotspot moved east (as the North American Plate migrated southwestward), under the Craters of the Moon area about 10 to 11 million years ago and is now thought to exist under Yellowstone National Park.

The Craters of the Moon Lava Field is relatively young in comparison with the oldest flows around 15,000 year old and the most recent eruption being about 2000 year ago.

Devil’s Orchard Trail

Devil’s Orchard Trail with map

This is an easy, paved, wheelchair accessible .5 mile loop. This was probably the prettiest section of the park IMHO.

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TRIVIA TIDBIT:  In the summer of 1969, Apollo 14 astronauts including Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Joe Engle, and Eugene Cernan trained in Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Trail to Inferno Cone Overlook

Spatter Cones Trail

This was another very short trail, but going uphill.

Spatter Cones Trail

Jan and Mark lead the way

Mark, Jan, Joanne, Tim with a view into the crater

Rugged formation

Caves Trail

There are several caves to choose from. Jan and Mark were most interested in exploring Boy Scout and Beauty Caves and we brought our headlamps along with us. Tim and I went into the Boy Scout Cave, but did not venture much past the entrance.

Caves Trail

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GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that I am finally back at my computer, trying valiantly to get back into the swing of writing about our travel adventures. As you might have noticed, the date at the top of the post is from September, 2018. Tim and I were near the end of a wonderful two-week RV road trip with my sister and brother-in-law. For some reason, I simply never finished writing about the last few days of that trip. Call it writers block, laziness, or whatever. But today we got invited to join our travel buddies Dick and Karen on another short RV trip. It motivated me to get my behind in gear and get caught up. I’ve got at least one or two more posts left in me 🙂

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in Idaho, National Parks, Photography, RV Life, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to IDAHO ~ Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

  1. John Love says:

    I lived in Riggins and then Council Idaho during my school years. Have driven past the Craters of the Moon a half dozen times. Yes, pretty boring in the daytime. I did happen to pass by one night just as the full moon came up over the horizon. It resembled that moon in Joe and the Volcano! It was very surreal, but was before cell phones with cameras so no pics. But it did look like an alien landscape. I have always wished I could have documented it with photography, but I didn’t even have a drivers license yet and couldn’t even get the people driving to stop!


    • John, although we stayed overnight in the parks campground, I don’t recall having any impressions or scenic view that evening. I’m guessing that being at the right place as well as having a full moon made a great difference. Thank you for sharing your experience 👍


  2. Is any of the Park still active? Or is it a giant field of lava rock?


  3. joliesattic says:

    Glad to hear from you. Happy New Year!
    Your photos are actually very good. They do, unfortunately for us, look like much of inland southern California. Pretty barren and dull. Even so, there’s some beauty in all of it. As a child, I found seashell fossils and other remnants of a bygone era embedded in the rocks I picked up… if I looked closely enough. It’s fascinating seeing how varied and yet similar the cutouts of our world can be. Enjoy your next trip. Where are you off to now?


  4. Peggy and I actually like Craters of the Moon, Joanne, making sure we visit whenever we are near. I think you did good with the photography! 🙂 –Curt


    • Curt, happy to know that you and Peggy like Craters of the Moon. I thought that perhaps because it was so barren that it just was not my cup of tea. That theory got debunked a few days later when we visited the Bonneville Salt Flats which I found fascinating. I’ll be posting about our afternoon spent there in a few days.


  5. Widdershins says:

    Lava has the most amazing shapes and colours, doesn’t it? … I’ve seen close-ups of the recent eruption in Hawai’i and they really are mindboggling. 🙂


  6. Glad you’re back – I look forward to your posts, as you explore a different part of the country than I.


  7. LTodd says:

    Jon and I found Craters of the Moon a fascinating place, especially when we learned that the rain falling at Craters flows to the Snake River. Imagine the route it must travel through the lava beds. How was the campground there? It was under reconstruction during our visit.


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