“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Worth a stop for sure, but don't plan on spending more than a few hours here! It can get pretty hot or windy.
Great stop for families! Bathroom and water bottle fill up at the visitor center. Really well organized park. Easy hiking trails and awesome views! The tunnels are really special. Lots of picnic tables spots.
Entrance fee for day or camping pass. Beautiful drive up the the park.
Note: If you’ve been in any caves before these they won’t let you into these caves because of the bats and bringing in certain stuff in your stores.
Bathrooms available. Water is turned off in October so can’t fill up. The walking areas are paved on the lava areas. If you want to go into the caves it’s all hiking and climbing at your own risk. Bring a head lamp. Won’t be able to take strollers or anything into caves. Bring good shoes too. They aren’t long hikes through the caves but do take some work getting through. They were worth it.
No smoking anywhere please.
This place is fantastic! We only had a couple hours, so we did the driving loop, stopping only at Devil’s Orchard and the Indian Cave. Other caves are closed. We also stopped at the excellent visitor’s center. Could easily have spent a couple days here.
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!
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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Craters of the Moon National Monument
- Sun - Sat: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
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Good for hiking.
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