Lunar Landscapes and Lava Caves of Idaho

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Go West, Young Lad • Tags: lava flowsnational monuments • Places: Craters of the Moon National Monument

After a not-so-enjoyable evening in my motel, I was excited to get back on track with my road trip.

My next destination: Craters of the Moon.


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A place so named because it served as a training ground for Apollo astronauts. A gigantic area of lava flows and basalt features. The most ancient of these flows dates back to some 15,000 years ago, whilst the newest are a mere 2,000 years old. This place is home to dormant fissures, which may erupt again in the next thousand years...



I got to the park, say, sometime around mid-morning, and made sure to complete the "orientation" necessary for visiting the caves in the area.

This mostly consists of making sure that you're not wearing the same clothes/footwear into these caves as other caves, so that you are not spreading certain diseases around that can be deadly for bats.

With this done, I set about driving the "loop" around the monument.


My first stop was the Devils' Orchard trail, a very moderate discovery trail with excellent historic information about the park, and child-friendly information about the importance of preserving natural areas.

My second stop was a hill climb, up to the top of Inferno Cone, which offered scenic and panoramic views of the area from a vantage point some 6,184 ft above sea level.

I found the climb fairly easy, the views spectacular.


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After that, I stopped at the splatter cones, which were certainly unique and fun geological features.


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I checked out the caves trail, with my handy headlamp in tow.


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I really enjoyed visiting the preserve, though in comparison to some recent stops in Maui, it felt a touch underwhelming. I would certainly visit again, but I don't know that I would go out of my way to do so.

Backpacking is also available in the park, but somehow, the thought of walking on volcanic rock in direct sunlight for hours whilst carrying all of my own water felt unappealing.



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I was not in a rush to cover too much ground that day, so I soaked in as many of the nearby trails and learned as much about the area as possible.

By the time I felt as though I had soaked in enough volcanic rock, the day was only half over. I decided to pay a visit to another geological wonder.