Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is one of the
weirdest places I've ever visited. To say it's in the middle of
nowhere is an understatement. Crates of the Moon is also huge
, tallying in at 464,304 acres between the "towns" of
Arco and Carey, Idaho at 5,900 feet.. When thinking back on my
trip to this monument, I had the sense I was driving on another
planet. The first view of a lava field is something to behold.
Kings Bowl and Wapi lava fields are at least 2,200 years old.
The monument is home to cinder cones, spatter cones, shield volcanoes,
and other interesting geologic features.
The monument is best known for its three major lava fields. These
fields stretch on for as far as you can see, and to observe such
terrain while being pummeled by fierce winds is an otherworldly
experience. The rugged lava fields lie along the Great Idaho Rift.
The deepest open rift crack in the world is in the park, dropping
to an astounding 800 feet. Watch your step.
What can the visitor expect? how about twenty five eerie volcanic
cones, A single paved road that barely enters the northern section
of the park, sparse vegetation that struggles to survive thanks
to the black lava. Plant cover is at 15% on "normal"
terrain and 5% on the cones. Much of the 15-20 inches of rainfall
in the parks seeps into lava cracks, robbing vegetation of any
moisture. Crates of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is
about as harsh as it gets. The ambiance of the monument is unique
in the park system, and worth a visit if you're in the area. The
trouble is Craters of the Moon really isn't on the way to any
major destinations, although it's not too far from Yellowstone
(176 miles west).
A snake absorbing the heat on the road. Not a
wise snake, as it was dusk and I almost ran it over. I prodded
it off the road with my monopod.
Upon pulling to Crater Lake Campground, I had to
ask my self where I was Immediately you are surrounded by old
lava flows, and a hot, bleak landscape. A few pine trees try to
cling to existence, and the terrain surrounding you looks like
crushed coal. Welcome to Craters of the Moon campground. Also
of note is that the camper is a long, long way from anywhere.
The nearest town (and I use that term loosely) is 18 miles to
the east in Arco. Expect tons of wind, a wickedly cool camping
spot amongst lava remnants, and a feeling like you are indeed
on another planet. This is the kind of thing campers embrace,
of course. Who wants to camp at the same type of sites every time?
Those looking for a different camping experience in a remote setting
will be pleased with Craters of the Moon campground. Make sure
you catch our campground review below.
Craters of the Moon campground facts:
Video Tour available: Coming soon
Open: May to November (snow can close things early)
Sites: 51, no reservations
Dump Station: No
Store: No ( Arco 18 miles east)
Quiet Hours: 10 am to 6 am
Fee: $10 per site, $6 per site shoulder season
Vehicle length limit: Large trailers and RV's in a few sites only
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: No fires permitted
Elevation: 5,868 feet
Generator: Yes (6 AM to 10 PM)
Gas: No (18 miles east to Arco)
Repairs: No(18 miles east to Arco)
Reservations: Not available
Group Campground is located behind Cinder Cone
on the north side of Highway 20/26/93. Open May/September by reservation
only. Maximum 30 people. Call 208-527-1325 for more group camping
information. Unlike the main campground, fires are permitted at
the group campground.
Scenery: 9 (based on originality, not "oh wow")
In-campground aesthetics: 9
Unnatural Noise: 6
Site Privacy: 4
Parkcamper Rating: 7.3/10
Campsite at Craters of the Moon