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4.5
847 votes

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Arco, Idaho 83213 USA

$
$$$$
Budget
Closed Now
Opens Sun 8a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
    Accepted
  • Pet Friendly
  • Not Wheelchair
    Accessible
  • Public
    Restrooms
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Due to the spread of COVID-19, some points of interest may be closed or have restrictions. Please stay safe and call ahead to get the latest information.

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“A Violent Past, Calm Present, and Uncertain Future...”

Past Craters of the Moon formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago. Lava erupted from the Great Rift, a series of deep cracks that start near the visitor center and stretch 52 miles (84 km.) to the southeast. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles (1600 square km.).The smaller Wapi and Kings Bowl lava fields also formed along the Great Rift during the most recent eruptive period (approximately 2000 years ago). Present Over the past 30 million years, this region has experienced extensive stretching. A recent example of these on-going forces was the 1983 Mount Borah earthquake. During that event the highest point in Idaho, Mount Borah, got a bit higher when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake occurred across the base of the Lost River Range. Mount Borah rose about 1 foot (.3 m) and the Lost River Valley in that vicinity dropped about 8 feet (2.4 m.) . On the Eastern Snake River Plain, rather than producing mountain ranges, these tensional forces have triggered volcanic activity. The stretching of the crust releases pressure on the hot rocks below causing them to melt. The magma can then travel to the surface along planes of weakness like the Great Rift. As long as these forces continue to act, more eruptions will eventually occur. The time between eruptive periods in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field averages 2,000 years and it has been more than 2,000 years since the last eruption. Future The volume of past eruptive events suggests that slightly over one cubic mile (4.2 cubic km.) of lava will be erupted during the next event. In the past, eruptions in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field have generally shifted to the segment of the Great Rift that has not erupted for the longest period of time. Therefore, the next eruptive period is expected to begin along the central portion of the Great Rift in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field, but may well propagate to the northern part of the monument in the proximity of the loop road. Initial flows, based on past performance, will probably be relatively non-explosive and produce large-volume pahoehoe flows. Eruptions from potential vents on the northern part of the Great Rift may be comparatively explosive and may produce significant amounts of tephra (airfall material ejected from a volcano), destroy cinder cones by both explosion and collapse, and build new ones. Until the next eruption, ongoing -but subtle- changes continue to affect the geology of Craters of the Moon. These environmental factors include gravity, weather, as well as other natural and human caused effects on this volcanic landscape.

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Reviewed by
DavinieFiero

  • 24 Reviews
  • 15 Helpful
July 05, 2016
Rated 4.0

There were some good walking trails with easy access. It isn't spelunking and the caves were short in length, but it was a nice break in travel. Ask about the Ranger program for kids! Walking to the top of the Inferno cone was like being in the Sahara... Without a camel. Or sand.
VERY WINDY.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
kelseyk

  • 2 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
June 04, 2015
Rated 4.0

Camping with a tent is a little iffy (it's hard to properly stake a tent, which isn't good when a storm rolls through), but the park is beautiful and there's some really amazing geological formations. Lots to see and learn! If you're there in spring, tiny wildflowers are blooming everywhere!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
SummerGaleVanWagoner

  • 18 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
October 10, 2016

I agree, unless you explore the caves, even walking the trails you won't be here long. We were here about two hours and felt like we saw "enough." Definitely stop to read signs along the paths. The kids liked being able to imagine the volcanoes when they were active and pick up pretty lava rocks.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
snowkab

  • 6 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
February 17, 2016
Rated 4.0

Definitely bring water. We didn't camp there, but we stayed for several hours, walking the trails and going in one of the caves. The cave was great even for people who don't like caves (me) because the top had caved in at points so there was always light, and you can crawl out the other side.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
sarahjane_grant

  • 3 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
September 15, 2014
Rated 3.0

Worth a stop for sure, but don't plan on spending more than a few hours here! It can get pretty hot or windy.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
mshotwell

  • 37 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
July 04, 2019
Rated 5.0

Awesome! Amazing! Plan a few hours so you can do the loop and really check out some things here! There are caves and trails and mountains to climb. It was well worth the drive! Very cool place that you just don’t expect to see out in that area and terrain!

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Reviewed by
Craig Single

  • 34 Reviews
  • 6 Helpful
July 09, 2018

Very cool. Ended up spending more time here than we had anticipated. If there for a cave tour do it. It’s so cool!

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Reviewed by
indy_miami

  • 26 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
August 03, 2017
Rated 4.0

Wish we had more time to explore but a little underrated. Caves were interesting to see but hard to explore with little kids. Very hot when we went and needed lots of water.

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Reviewed by
Monica

  • 3 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
August 22, 2016
Rated 5.0

Stunning, otherworldly, amazing colors among the dense black, informative history posts, easy enough walking. Take water, a sun hat, and get a pass to get into the caves. Climb the inferno cone if you can! Very windy-- hold on to your hat.

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Reviewed by
Katerina Rebicek

  • 9 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
July 26, 2016
Rated 5.0

Very unique place and accessible with kids compared to other volcano places requiring substantial hikes to see something.

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Craters of the Moon National Monument

Arco, Idaho
83213 USA

Hours

Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

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Good for hiking.

  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Outdoor Seating
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Parking, Dining

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