Craters of the moon national monument at Idaho is one such place which will make you wonder if you are really on earth. You will be surrounded by black mountains of lava and volcanic soil everywhere. The high contrast of black ground and blue sky with white clouds wont fail to astonish you. This cooled Lava field spreads across 618 square miles. The most recent volcanic activity occurred 2,100 years ago. Interested in learning about it geographic features? Then visit here. Read about our camping experience at Craters of the Moon!
Craters of the Moon is a U.S. National Monument and national preserve in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho. Around 53,500 acres of volcanic formations change the whole scene into beautiful dark landscape.
The Park is open year around and has entrance fees. Visit this site for more details.
What can you do here?
First thing, check out the visitor center. They have so many interesting displays narrating the history, geographical transformations and significance of this place. Also, the park rangers will give you some instructions regarding the safety and rules. In order to protect the bats from a spreading disease called white nose syndrome, ranger might run you through some safety details. Don’t forget your cave permit and map before heading out.
🔔Fun Fact 🌋- The second group of astronauts to walk the moon visited craters of the moon in 1969. They studied the volcanic geology, unusual and harsh environment in preparation for their trip to space.
Drive through the Scenic loop :
The park has a seven mile loop road that is open to automobile traffic. Along the way, you will find lots of trail-heads leading to different cones, lava tubes and different other unique formations of cold hard lava.
Wild plants peeking out of Lava ground Small Lava tube – closer look
Hike to the top of Cones & into Lava caves:
There are lots of trails in this area. The paths are well paved. Since we had limited amount of time, we chose to explore the Inferno cone and a Lava cave.
Our first visit was to the “Inferno Cone”. From the Parking lot, it seemed like a easy peasy hike with only half a mile round trip with some elevation gain. Once we started to ascend the elevation, it was soooo windy and I literally started crawling my way up. :P. Once you get to the top, it was just flat black bed with contrast orange stone/rocks. The view was breathtaking though. You could see the whole lava land with wild flower plants, grass and trees surviving out of the dark terrain.
Climbing the inferno cone
There are 4 Lava caves or Lava tubes here to explore. Given the limited time we had, we picked the Indian cave. Its just 800ft long. The cave entrance has a metal ladder to get down. The path is full of big scrambled lava boulders that makes it fun to crawl and find your way to the exit. The cave is kinda dark and tight fit in some places. Carry a flashlight or use your phone.
Inside the cave Light well Inside the cave looking into Indian cave
Camping among the Lava at Lava Flow Campground
The campground is near the visitor center at the start of the scenic loop. They are 42 campsites available on first come first serve basis. You can pay at the entrance with credit card on the automated fee machine. They have camping tables, restrooms and water. But, no hookups, showers or waste water dump stations. Also they do not allow campfires.
We enjoyed our car camping here. Made tomato rice and potato fry for dinner!. It was an amazing experience camping at Craters of the Moon. Check out other camping places we love!