00
Shares

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Upper Snake River Valley, Idaho

Start Exploring
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
00

Shares

Advertisement
  • Spatter Cones and Big Cinder Butte in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Panorama of Big Cinder Butte and surrounding terrain. Big Cinder Butte is the highest volcanic feature in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Blizzard Mountain in the Pioneer Mountains just outside of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Inside a lava tube in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Volcanic desolation in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Inside Indian Tunnel in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Lava flow in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • A big crater in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Blizzard Mountain over the lava.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Be careful about obstacles under the snow.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Winter at Big Cinder Butte in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • The foothills of the Pioneer Mountains from Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Blizzard Mountain in the winter.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • The park road in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is groomed for winter recreation.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Timbered Dome over Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Snowy terrain at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Snowy terrain at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Snowshoeing along the groomed road.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • There are also lots of opportunities for adventure off the beaten path during the winter.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • The Spatter Cones at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Spatter Cones and Big Cinder Butte at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Hell frozen over in the Devil's Garden, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Fascinating geology. Solitude. Wilderness area. Interesting hikes.
Cons: 
Very hot in summer. Extremely harsh terrain.
Advertisement
Region:
Upper Snake River Valley, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Advertisement
Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Sponsored Contributor

Central Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve was famously called "the strangest 75 square miles on the North American Continent" by an early explorer, and it is indeed a unique and memorable landscape. This monument is named for the seemingly endless craters, lava flows, and piles of loose rock. The area's terrain is so other-worldly that the Apollo astronauts even trained here in preparation for their moon missions. The monument boasts 60 lava flows and 25 cinder cones as well as what is called the Great Rift, a 62-mile-long crack in the earth's surface. The last volcanic activity in the area is said to have occurred nearly 2,000 years ago. 

A few years ago the size of the monument was more than doubled, and it now takes in even more features, stretching almost to the Snake River in the south. There are only a few miles of road, and the vast majority of the monument is a roadless, trailess, desert wilderness of sharp black lava rock. It is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the BLM. The National Park Service manages the lava flows while the BLM manages the grass and sagebrush portions.

Craters of the Moon is also known for its extensive system of underground lava tubes and is popular amongst cavers. During the winter, Craters has a good amount of groomed cross-country ski trails and is a destination for many skiers and snowshoers.

Craters of the Moon is situated at the southern tip of the Pioneer range and is quite high in elevation, ranging from 5,000 to over 7,700 feet. Only the northern end of the monument has development of any kind. You'll find a visitor center and museum, a few picnic sites, a developed campground, and many miles of hiking trails. The trails range from short walks to hikes approaching 15 miles, and they take you to many of the most interesting sites in the monument.

Note that weather in this area can be extreme. Summer temperatures frequently approach 100 degrees while winter temperatures can plummet below zero.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Download
Advertisement
Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

Advertisement
Related Content

Related Content

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
30 Members
Who's Done It
46 Members
Submission by
Sponsored Contributor
160 Adventures Explored
20 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info