Craters of the Moon / by Sari Blum

Craters of the Moon. Guess where this lil gem of a national park is? That’s right, Idaho. You’re thinking to yourself that’s not exactly where I thought momentous volcanic activity happened in our fine country only 2000 years ago! But, fact of the matter is, it did. I was there and even took some pictures to prove it. Other people were there too so it’s not necessarily this super secret hidden spot.

Point is…. it was the next stop on our road trip. We drove from Wyoming into the heart of Idaho. Craters of the Moon national park is located in the middle of the southern part of Idaho just before you hit the Sawtooth National Forest. 2,000 years ago a huge volcanic fissure opened up in this valley and wreaked havoc. Lava spewed from cinder cones forming rivers of firey destruction, moving castle size boulders miles from their places of birth and incinerating all in its path. It is truly a unique park to visit within the mainland of the good ol USA. How often do we get to see lava fields and explore the remains of lava destruction armed with the knowledge that these volcanos are completely dormant?

We had a full twenty four hours in the national park. They have a small yet lovely camp ground which overlooks one of the main craters. This camp ground was probably our second favorite after Zion. Maybe we both like desert scenary, but I tell you there is nothing better than being out in nature with unobstructed views of stars and space. It takes a full day to completely explore the park. If you’re in a rush you could do it in about an hour and see the main sights but we decided to meander through the park, walk (almost) every loop and read (almost) every sign.

My boyfriend’s favorite was the part where you are able to go and explore the lava tubes. When lava flows are thick and concentrated they burn and melt rivers, essentially, into the ground. The top of the lava will cool and harden but the river itself will keep flowing, therefore carving out hollow tubes. These are called lava tubes and within this national park you can go explore them. These are no joke. You need good shoes, a solid head lamp, pants and a jacket. Even in summer, when it was 95 degrees outside, there was still ice inside the caves. The caves vary in size from cavernous halls to very small openings in which you must squeeze and crawl your way through. It was at that point where I learned something about myself: I don’t really like cold dark small places. They make my heart beat very very very fast with a serious sense of impending doom. I learned I have some slight claustrophobia, who knew? Where as Nick in his other life was a cave explorer, he took to the darkness and small spaces like a… like a… explorer to a cave… Hmm. I’ll work on that. I chose to enjoy the sunshine while he explored deep into the caves. Don’t get me wrong I went into a few, but seriously, how many pictures can you take of deep dark empty spaces without your tripod. The answer is not many.

If you happen to find yourself in southern Idaho, treat yourself to a day in the park. It’s definitely worth the stop to see something a little different.

As always,