Craters of the Moon National Monument - 2008 . . .
on our route to the Pacific Northwest

Updated: 11/30/08


Craters of the Moon National Monument is located eighteen mile west of Arco, Idaho. At first glance, the unearthly landscape appears like some bizarre alien world. The stark lava features led early travelers to compare the area to the moon's surface.




Have you ever been to the moon?



a f0821craters_103 hh window crop_1.jpg (51709 bytes)We think we know what it would be like living on the moon. The campground was like . . . camping on the moon. When the monument was named in 1924, this is what they thought the moon looked like.  It was good for our solar panels but not real habitable for humans. The view from our window was all lava rock and ash. 






a f0821craters_306 dust sink1_1.JPG (27785 bytes)Our second day in Craters of the Moon was very windy. When we returned home, everywhere we had left a window open was covered with a layer of lava ash.

The people next door to us had left their roof vents open - we were told their motorhome had lava ash on all surfaces.





There is a seven mile loop drive. We drove the loop the evening we arrived and again the next morning. There are hiking trails through the park of varying lengths.



The 'volcanoes' at Craters of the Moon are different.

It will be difficult to describe what we saw. We tried to photograph various colors and textures and patterns to the lava flow. 

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A Cinder Garden . . .


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Spatter Cones . . . a sidewalk permitted you to go inside the cone.


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The sidewalk . . .                       Someone going inside . . .        Snow in August . . .                  Mary Lou coming in . . .


Rough texture, close-ups of surfaces . . .a f0820craters_171 snow cone2_1.JPG (61294 bytes)   a f0820craters_208 spatter cone colors_1.JPG (59839 bytes)


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a f0820craters_192 snow cone walk_1.JPG (30535 bytes)Many of the areas offered handicap access. A curb on the edges kept strollers and wheelchairs on the path. Curbing was also used on the road to keep drivers from pulling off the road.

This particular path led to an overlook for the Spatter Cones.





a f0820craters_234 rd5_1.JPG (48167 bytes)Some hills were nothing but ash covered. Trees would take root and grow.







a f0821craters_106 ncft1_1.JPG (39551 bytes)The North Crater Flow Trail was very close to the campground.  It was a 1/4 mile long asphalt walkway with points of interest identified. This allowed you to examine the volcanic features in detail. 


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A sign in the parking area of The North Crater Flow Trail pointed to a 'Shortcut to Campground'.  Fred walked the 'shortcut' to the top of the hill overlooking the campground. It was so windy at the top, he had to lean into the wind to make his photographs. 


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From the top of the hill, he could see our HHII.

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      a f0821craters_206 p t cg6_1.JPG (53064 bytes)   a f0821craters_224 amp ther_1.JPG (83785 bytes)   The campground Amphitheater . . .


When Fred returned, Mary Lou was waiting.                       We hoped this lava rock did not roll on our truck.





An area of varying patterns . . .


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So much lava . . .


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This looks like a road in the lava. 


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A pond ?  No, a circle of ash.

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More photographs of the HHII . . .


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aa f0820craters_151_1.JPG (24765 bytes)a f0821craters_388 ic7_1.JPG (35741 bytes)Fred decided he wanted to climb the Inferno Cone. 

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The surface of Inferno Cone was all loose lava ash. 

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The view from the top . ..


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Smoke from a forest fire . . . viewed from the top of the Inferno Cone.




It is recommended that you arrive in the afternoon so you can drive the loop road the evening you arrive and in the morning before you leave. This would not leave you time to take any of the trails. We arrive in the late afternoon and stayed for two nights. We found the colors of the volcanic materials much more pronounced in the evening. 

Some people come here and see black "rocks", while others see what President Calvin Coolidge described as the "weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself". 

The entrance fee is $8 per private vehicle.  The park remains open all year.



Note:     There aren't many campgrounds that we like to arrive at in the dark - maybe none. The Craters of the Moon is one NOT to arrive at in the dark. When it get dark, it is really dark. And, all the lave racks are black.

c f0822id_101 craters rv damage_1_1.JPG (34841 bytes)We talked to a RVer who hit a hunk of lava rocks the night before. We barely made it through the road because of the relocated lava rock. Fred got out of the truck and moved it up the hill a little -  close to where  it came from.





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