Hikes in Craters of the Moon National Monument

If you ask a ranger, “what should I see if I only have one day to visit Craters of the Moon,” she might answer, “everything.” The monument’s developed area is quite compact. There are only a few miles of paved roadways and a handful of hiking trails. Though the easy-to-visit segment of Craters of the Moon is small, the entire monument, created in 1924 and greatly expanded in 2000, preserves 725 square miles of volcanic landscapes. It is a unique and rugged area. The park brochure describes Craters of the Moon as:

The strangest 75 square miles on the North American continent.

Craters of the Moon’s volcanic landscape is certainly unusual. There isn’t a singular dominant volcano in the park, like a Mount Rainier, rather there is a grand area of basalt lava formations derived from fissures, lava flows, and cinder cones. Craters of the Moon preserves the volcanic area known as the Great Rift, which began erupting 15,000 years ago and stopped roughly 2,000 years ago (for now).

Craters of the Moon is located 19 miles southwest of Arco in Southern Idaho, 200 miles west of Yellowstone National Park in nearby Wyoming (probably the strangest and most beautiful 3,400+ square miles on the North American continent). The monument houses interesting terrain that can easily be explored in a few hours. There is one campground in Craters of the Moon, the 51-site Lava Flow Campground.

Hiking Craters of the Moon National Monument

Lava Cave Craters of the MoonCaves Trail
This 1.6-mile hike travels above and below the surface, exploring lava tubes in the Great Rift Lava Flow.
Inferno Cone Craters of the MoonInferno Cone Trail
This half-mile hike summits a cinder cone at the center of the scenic loop drive in Craters of the Moon.

 


View Craters of the Moon in a larger map
hikespeak
Inferno Cone Trail Craters of the Moon National Monument Idaho cinder cone hike
Inferno Cone Trail is a short but steep path up the cinder cone at the center of the scenic loop drive in Crater of the Moon National Monument. This 6,181-foot summit provides a panoramic view of the surrounding volcanic landscape. Inferno Cone Trail is just half a mile round trip with 160 feet of elevation gain. The killer overview of Craters of the Moon is well worth... Read more.
    LoadingAdd to trails I’ve hiked
    LoadingAdd to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: | |
Distance: 0.5 miles – Elevation change: 160 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 21, 2014
Caves Trail in Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, A hike above and below the surface of a lava flow exploring Indian Tunnel, Dewdrop Cave, Boy Scout Cave, and Beauty Cave - lava tube, lava cave, lava tunnel hiking
One of the coolest things to do anywhere there are lava flows is hike through lava tubes. This makes Caves Trail the most exciting hike in Craters of the Moon National Monument. The 1.6-mile hike visits four lava tubes, that each provide a unique experience. A sign at the trailhead explains:The Craters of the Moon landscape is more than just surface volcanic features.... Read more.
    LoadingAdd to trails I’ve hiked
    LoadingAdd to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: | |
Distance: 1.6 miles – Elevation change: 75 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 19, 2014
Camping Craters of the Moon National Monument Lava Flow Campground Idaho camp
If you are planning to stay overnight at Craters of the Moon National Monument, you are in luck. There is a 51-site campground near the park entrance. There isn't much else around Craters of the Moon, so it's a good thing the campground is there. If your flashlight runs out of batteries, you'll have to drive 18 miles to the small town of Arco to pick up... Read more.
Tagged with: | |
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 24, 2014