I was sitting in Boise ID talking to my cousin on the phone, expressing how I wasn’t sure what to do on this leg of the journey. “What should I go see?” I asked him intently and he answered talking about how amazing the mountains were supposed to be. But I had just been up in Olympic National Park and Glacier before that. I couldn’t see how any mountains Idaho had to offer would be any better, or really even come close. As I got closer to Twin Falls, things started to change. The world started to turn from green to gold as canyons started to open up. This weird intermediary terrain was something new to me and I had to explore it. I hopped online to find the “most unique” place to explore, and was on my way to Craters of the Moon.
Over the last 15,000 years, up until about 2,000 years ago, lava erupted from a series of deep cracks (now known as the Great Rift) forming Craters of the Moon and growing to cover 618 square miles. These cracks still move around and earthquakes still change the landscape on a (geologically) regular basis. The rifts cause everything from new mountain formations to volcanic reactions leading to this being quite an interesting area for geological study. This volcanic activity has lead to a landscape like none other, sharing deep canyons with volcanic rock and sheer cliffs.
This entire area is begging to be explored. Simply seeing it gives explanation to why it is called Craters of the Moon. The land is dry and barren. Black rock juts out of the ground and volcanic peaks form hills where lava used to spew. Climbing to the top of one of these can give views for miles where one can really appreciate the vast array of scenery. You can see everything from distant cracks that drop down hundreds of feet to single trees jutting up wherever one can find enough water to sustain life. Most water drops directly into the Snake River leading to little for the natural habitat.
As I walk deeper into the park, I realize that it essentially goes on forever. The vast openness brings me a sense of peace that I am becoming more familiar with. I think about how just a day ago I was doubting if Idaho could impress me. Well, with this park it has, and I now look forward to seeing more of what this state hides in its grip.
Closest Supercharger: Twin Falls 87 mi
2015 Nielsen Point Pl, Twin Falls, ID 83301
Craters of the Moon National Monument
1266 Craters Loop Road, Arco, ID 83213