Living in the Midwest my whole life, I never really knew anything outside of Wisconsin and Illinois. But even making that statement, that I know Wisconsin and Illinois, doesn’t sit well with me anymore. After traveling to such incredible places found in some of the most unexpected states, like Iowa, Utah, and Nebraska, I now feel like I didn’t know anything outside of my own back yard back “home”. Every state has something amazing to discover. I truly believe that now. Idaho is no exception.
There were a good handful of places we wanted to travel to in Idaho, but we decided not to go too far north because of all the fires roaring in the northwestern states at the time. We chose to skirt across the southern part of the state, and our first stop was Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Hey, guess what? Did you know Idaho had volcanos? Yeah, neither did I. And if you did, then do a little happy dance…now get over yourself lol 😉
Craters of the Moon is a dried and hardened field of lava from eruptions which occurred between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. And by “field” I mean several square miles. All that black land you see in the pictures, that’s lava. Though they generally discourage climbing on the lava because they want to preserve the rocks from eroding so quickly, there are several pretty sick caves you can climb down into! Make sure to be careful if you do climb over the lava. Craters of the Moon is generally made up of two kinds of lava flows: Pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) and aa (ah-ah). The aa is extremely jagged and sharp, hence the name! It’s very easy to get yourself all cut up! Also, definitely bring a flashlight and do a little caving there (if you’re not claustrophobic). Oh, and make sure your flashlight has good batteries…mine didn’t – womp, womp ☹
The preserve has several wheelchair accessible walking paths that take you through the lava flow. Along the paths are signs which tell you about the history and educate you on the landscape. You can also climb to the top of a cyder cone! Though the hike was a steep one, the black rocks of the cyder cone were gorgeously iridescent, and the top gave us an amazing view of the preserve. It is so worth it, so push yourself!
If you’re interested in checking out the amazingly unique preserve, here are a few things you should know… First, dogs aren’t allowed anywhere other than the parking lots, so leave your furry friend home (not it a hot car! UGH!). Speaking of hot car, it’s EXTREMELY hot at Craters of the Moon during the day. When all the land around you and beneath your feet is black, it makes sense that it would be a scorcher. Gosh, I can just hear my mom’s nagging voice saying, “It’s very hot today. Don’t wear a black shirt, you’ll attract the sun.” Just kidding, mom. Love you. Truly, though, every review I read for the Craters of the Moon before we went there emphasized wearing sunscreen and bringing water, and I couldn’t agree more! There’s a lot to see, but you don’t want to dehydrate or regret staying in the sun so long without protection. If you don’t already have your National Parks Pass (Seriously, get one! It’s so worth it! You only need one per car), it’s $15.00 a person. For the campers tuning in, they have a few small tent camping sights, but no electricity! Prepare to sweat your nads off.
If you’re traveling through the state of Idaho or if you’re Boise bound (which I heard is a pretty cool city!) take the extra day or half a day to explore the Craters of the Moon. Careful, though! They are overdue for an eruption, and they expect one anytime now!