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Melynda Harrison worked in partnership v Visit Idaho to develop this take trip Tip.

You are watching: Boise to craters of the moon

Miles before arriving at the visitor center at Craters of the Moon nationwide Monument and Preserve, a ar of hardened lava showed up south the the highway. At first, mine husband and also I disputed whether that was in reality lava or simply a shadow of a cloud throughout the land. Having been to Craters number of times before, i knew it to be the beginning of a volcano wonderland.

The landscape at Craters that the Moon was created by a handful of lava flows over time. The lava right here didn’t erupt out of volcanoes, but rather oozed out of fissures in the earth and occasionally spewed out of vents. Sometimes a circulation would partly cover a previous lava bed, various other times it would create brand-new ones. The an outcome is 618 square mile (not all in the nationwide Monument) of cinder cones, lava tubes, tree molds, lava rivers, spatter cones, and also lava bed as much as you have the right to see.

I store coming back to Craters of the Moon since it feels choose a place like no other; that “out that this world,” as they say. I couldn’t wait come share it with my husband, who had never been, and also our 2 boys, that were as well young to remember our last visit.

Welcome come Craters of the Moon. Picture Credit: Melynda Harrison.

1. Volcanoes and an are Research in ~ the visitor Center

Our very first stop was the visitor center. Us wandered through the exhibits, got our bearings, and picked up Lunar Ranger packets for the boys. While all the parks and also monuments in the national Parks System have actually Junior Ranger programs, Craters that the Moon is the only one with a Lunar Ranger Badge. That’s because the effects of volcanism no just exciting to geologists, biologists, and climatologists, this otherworldly landscape turns out to it is in perfect because that NASA research and an are mission training.

In 1969, Apollo 14 astronauts all set for their expedition to the moon, additionally a volcanic landscape, through a visit to Craters. Castle learned just how to choose volcanic samples come bring earlier to earth and how come navigate a lava environment. NASA research proceeds at Craters that the Moon today.

The visitor center is likewise the place to acquire a cave permit and we knew we wanted to explore a lava tube. To safeguard bats indigenous a an illness that is relocating toward the monument, anyone that plans to enter the lava tubes, or caves, demands a free permit. Park employee will inspect your gear and go over a couple of safety details.

2. View From the Scenic Loop Road

A seven-mile loop roadway points girlfriend to all the trailheads in Craters of the Moon nationwide Monument & Preserve and you can also cross-country ski there in winter. While us couldn’t wait to get out that the car, operation around, and also immerse ourselves in the landscape, the drive itself is worth a visit to the park. Leaving the visitor center, we were soon transported to one more place filled with cinder beds, lava hoodoos, and an as whole surreal landscape.

Talk about scenic views. Picture Credit: Melynda Harrison.

3. Long on the Moon

With map in hand and permit presented on the dashboard, we decided a couple of hikes. I want the boys and Henry to check out as countless of the different species of volcanic functions as possible.

One of the good things around Craters the the Moon is that you have the right to see so much from simply a couple of short trails—it’s perfect for family members or those who don’t have actually a most time. If friend stay longer or camp overnight you deserve to explore an ext and float farther afield. Craters the the Moon is an international Dark sky Park which means there is a total lack of irradiate pollution. The stars light up the sky in one unbelievable way and come right down to your tent.

Hike a spatter cone. Photograph Credit: Melynda Harrison.

We only had three or four hours to spend at the park for this reason we started out v a scramble up Inferno Cone. It’s a 0.2-mile, steep walk up a cinder cone that looks prefer it have to be in Hawaii. It to be hold-onto-your-hat-windy increase there, but we to be enthralled through the panoramic views of the remainder of the Monument, the an excellent Rift, the Snake river Plain, and the Pioneer Mountains.

Next up was a rapid jaunt around and also up a spatter cone. Spatter cones start as vents in the ground, spewing lava right into the air. The lava comes back down and also lands approximately the vent creating a cone choose a drip sandcastle.

The 1.8-mile broken Top Loop Trail to be our following walk. The straightforward trail one a hill and also along the method we observed a lot of of different volcanic features. The boys specifically liked stand on the “lava bombs” – masses of molten rock developed when a vent ejected viscous fragments of lava throughout an eruption. The lava cooled right into a hard mass before it got to the ground.

4. Caving in Lava Tubes

There are five caves or lava tubes that have the right to be explored in Craters, and also four of them can be uncovered on the aptly named Caves Trail. We climbed down the stairs into Indian Tunnel and scrambled end rocks for around 800 feet come come the end the other end. Irradiate shines right into Indian Tunnel from areas where the lava tube has collapsed and also it is high enough that my 6’6” husband can stand many of the way. Other caves room darker and also a tighter fit.

Explore a lava tube. Picture Credit: Melynda Harrison.

5. Fried Pickles

It’s not actually in ~ Craters that the Moon, however you can’t happen through nearby Arco without trying the fried pickles at Pickle’s Place. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about them, but they were in reality really good and the restaurant has actually a full menu if you desire something an ext than pickles. As we ate ours pickles and sipped iced tea, us chatted around what a cool, weird, interesting place Craters that the Moon is and also how us can’t wait to gain back.

Fuel up with a fried pickle. Picture Credit: Melynda Harrison.

Feature image credited to Melynda Harrison.

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Melynda Harrison writes around travel and outdoor family adventure at,, and also for plenty of local and local publications. Once she’s not behind a laptop, friend can find her cross-country skiing, hiking, or floating a river.

Published on may 15, 2018