Exploring Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

We're back! It's been a minute(and a busy year) But we are excited for 2020! Last year we got to take the kids, and Ben's mom, to explore Craters of the Moon National Monument.


As one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. The Monument was established on May 2, 1924  And encompass three major lava fields spread across 618 square miles.

All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet.

There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava, as well as tree molds, lava tubes, and many other volcanic features.

We started our adventure by stopping in at the visitor center to learn more about the monument, it’s history, wildlife, vegetation, geography, and to get a map. We also picked up a few souvenirs and collected a stamp in our national parks passport book.

Since we have the two little ones, we stuck to features that are close to drivable loop not too far from the visitors center. First stop was the Inferno Cinder cone in the middle of the loop. This cinder cone is a dark black hill made of basaltic lava rock and is a stark contrast to any plant life that manages to make its home in this rough landscape. The climb is steep but short and once we get to the top we are rewarded with a 360 degree view of the whole monument. Although we don’t stay long because it particularly windy. From this vantage point we can see the smaller of the spatter cones in the preserve, that’s where we head next.

There are five caves you can explore within Craters of the Moon. Four of these caves can be found along the Caves Trail, and 1 on the Broken Top Loop Trail. All other caves found in the monument are not open to the public in order to protect bat populations.

First we head to Indian tunnel, the easiest of the caves to traverse. From the parking lot, the trail is only about a mile and a half, and it’s paved. Making it great for younglings, depending on your children you may want to bring a pack to carry them with, Emery spent a good amount of time in our arms or shoulders which gets tiring.

Indian Tunnel is a massive lava tube over 800ft long, and once you descend inside the temperature quickly descends as well. The atmosphere is calm and kind of eerie. There are several openings along the tube from the ceiling collapsing, and we had to climb over the debris.

The lava tube works its way to small hole which one person at a time has to climb out of to get back to the surface.

On our way back to the paved trail, we pass some stone circles left by the native Americans who once roamed this land.

Craters of the Moon formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago.  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.

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.

About the Author
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Ben Figueiredo

I make a living as a filmmaker & Website Designer, Telling Stories, creating content for businesses, entrepreneurs and even couples getting married. As a Five on the Enneagram, I love learning. Absorbing as much knowledge I can. I am into Biohacking, holistic wellness, and Rewilding so that I can be the best version of me to enjoy life with my family connecting with nature, our community, and God.

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