Craters of the Moon is a volcanic park and national monument located in the eastern desert region of Idaho. What makes it so distinct is the black blanket of ash that sweeps over the ground as far as one can see. Some refer to the unusual site as “unworldly”, given that it looks like another planet completely.
We visited in May, and the air was hot and dry. Many roads lead through the area, so you can view the landscape from the comfort of your car. But at top of the steep hills, you’ll have the most astounding views as the dark, moon like landscape stretches beyond where the eyes can see. A few lone trees, seemingly crisped from past volcanic eruptions, peer over rocks, and the strangely barren soil. Patches of sagebrush dot the weird area with a tiny bit of faint green.
Below the surface are caves, caverns and lava tubes, which can be explored. Before entering, you must learn about the park’s precious bat population and how to keep them safe.
Decending into most caves is not terribly difficult; we even saw an elderly couple out and about. One slip of the foot on the jagged rocks could result in injury, so wear proper foot wear and proceed with caution.
Ice in the Summer
Adding to the feeling that you are actually moving about some other planet, are the ice caves deep under the surface. In the heat of the spring and summer, the walls and floors are encased in crystal ice. Slippery but breathtakingly gorgeous, the ice caves are another attraction that makes Idaho unusually majestic. It’s dark down their, so bring a light, and walk very carefully!
Quick Stop or Full Trip
Craters of the Moon can be your quick picnic stop along a western road trip, or a full day excursion filled with strange sites you’ve never seen before. It’s all a part of Idaho’s everchanging landscape. While here, you can experience mountains, pristine waters, desert, sand dunes, and basically, another world.
Photos courtesy of Visit Idaho