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