Craters of the Moon National Monument

We left Grand Teton National Park this morning and started our three-day trip back home. But we knew we had one more place to visit that was almost on the way: Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is in southern Idaho, the only national park/monument in Idaho. And it was lots of fun.

If you know us, you know that we like to visit things natural, especially those that involve geology. Craters of the Moon is an area that is full of a variety of volcanic features like lava flows, cinder cones, and spatter things. This area used to be on top of the very same hotspot that is now under Yellowstone.  As time (in millions of years) has gone on, the hotspot has stayed in the same place but the continental crust (our land mass) has moved across it so that the hotspot has bubbled to the surface across a large arc of the US.

Craters of the Moon is a very large 750,000 acre area. There is a visitor center and a park Loop Road that gives you a taste of the volcanic features and that allows you to get up close to them. It's interesting that so many varied volcanic features are right next to each other, and in some cases, right on top of each other. 

Since we didn't have a lot of time, we didn't take any long hikes but just took the short hikes that are easily accessible from the loop road. We got to see the different types of lava flows.  There are two basic ones with some variance, of course.  The park photos and videos illustrate some of the volcanic features by showing the same type of features active in Hawaii, and we have loved seeing them in the past, so we loved seeing them from the past here in Craters of the Moon.

Despite its name, the craters on the real moon are mostly made from meteor collisions rather than from volcanoes on the moon. But some of the astronauts trained here to learn how to recognize the features.

We would have stayed longer, like overnight, but the campground was closed as it is being rebuilt.  After our all-too-short tour of Craters of the Moon NM, we headed on down the road, stopping for the night in Twin Falls.  I assumed that Twin Falls must have twin falls but didn't realize that they were on the Snake River and deep in a canyon that was just north of the city. Our highway took us a bit downriver from the twin falls but I bet they are great.  The canyon we crossed over surely was.