You might never have heard of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in south-central Idaho. I hadn’t, even though I’m kind of a space nerd and the Apoll0 14 astronauts trained here to learn the basics of volcanic geology. As I was driving across Idaho anyways, I figured I’d stop in and check it out. Good decision.
It was wild, truly wild. Not many people, as barren as the moon in some corners, and almost as unearthly. If you ever wanted to walk on a lava field, this is the place to go (and save yourself the airfare to Hawaii).
The park has several trails and each one takes you through a different section of the park’s environment. The park includes about 60 lava flows and 25 cones, and you can even hike up one of the cones (which is kind of like hiking up a fell in Scotland, all tiny rocks and slippery slope, but it was fun and I would definitely do it again). The photo below shows one of the smaller cones and lot of lava around it.
Probably my favorite short hike was the Devil’s Orchard Nature trail, which wound around rocks and barren trees. The wind whistled through branches and it felt like I was the only person left on planet Earth. And the trees are kind of like “scary trees for a horror movie” out of Central Casting.
Despite the harsh conditions, life finds a way even here. This was early Spring in southern Idaho, and green things were busting out all over.
Although the lava fields looked quite barren on one trail, a closer look showed several bunches of these little flowers making their stands.
To learn more about Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, you can visit the official NPS website.