“A Violent Past, Calm Present, and Uncertain Future...”
Between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago, the Craters of the Moon Lava Field formed during eight major eruptive periods. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles. The Wapi and Kings Bowl lava fields formed contemporaneously about 2,200 years ago.Present and FutureThis region is experiencing basin and range type faulting, which is stretching or pulling apart the crust. The Lost River Range north of the town of Arco provides good evidence that these forces are still active. In 1983 these forces caused a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, during which Mount Borah rose about 1 foot and the Lost River Valley in that vicinity dropped about 8 feet. On the Eastern Snake River Plain, rather than producing mountain ranges, the tensional forces have caused decompression melting, which results in dike emplacement and periodic eruption of molten rock onto the surface. As long as these forces continue to act, more eruptions will eventually occur.
The recurrence interval for eruptive activity in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field averages 2,000 years and it has been more than 2,000 years since the last eruption. The constancy of most recent lava output rates suggests that slightly over one cubic mile of lava will be erupted during the next eruption period. In the past, eruptions in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field have generally shifted to the segment of the Great Rift with the longest repose interval. Therefore, the next eruptive period is expected to begin along the central portion of the Great Rift in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field, but may well propagate to the northern part of the monument in the proximity of the loop road.
Initial flows, based on past performance, will probably be relatively non-explosive and produce large-volume pahoehoe flows. Eruptions from potential vents on the northern part of the Great Rift may be comparatively explosive and may produce significant amounts of tephra (airfall material ejected from a volcano), destroy cinder cones by both explosion and collapse, and build new ones.Until the next eruption, ongoing -but subtle- changes continue to affect the geology of Craters of the Moon. These environmental factors include gravity, weather, as well as other natural and human caused effects on this volcanic landscape.
There were some good walking trails with easy access. It isn't spelunking and the caves were short in length, but it was a nice break in travel. Ask about the Ranger program for kids! Walking to the top of the Inferno cone was like being in the Sahara... Without a camel. Or sand.
Definitely bring water. We didn't camp there, but we stayed for several hours, walking the trails and going in one of the caves. The cave was great even for people who don't like caves (me) because the top had caved in at points so there was always light, and you can crawl out the other side.
Camping with a tent is a little iffy (it's hard to properly stake a tent, which isn't good when a storm rolls through), but the park is beautiful and there's some really amazing geological formations. Lots to see and learn! If you're there in spring, tiny wildflowers are blooming everywhere!
Worth a stop for sure, but don't plan on spending more than a few hours here! It can get pretty hot or windy.
Wish we had more time to explore but a little underrated. Caves were interesting to see but hard to explore with little kids. Very hot when we went and needed lots of water.
I agree, unless you explore the caves, even walking the trails you won't be here long. We were here about two hours and felt like we saw "enough." Definitely stop to read signs along the paths. The kids liked being able to imagine the volcanoes when they were active and pick up pretty lava rocks.
Stunning, otherworldly, amazing colors among the dense black, informative history posts, easy enough walking. Take water, a sun hat, and get a pass to get into the caves. Climb the inferno cone if you can! Very windy-- hold on to your hat.
Very unique place and accessible with kids compared to other volcano places requiring substantial hikes to see something.
Very interesting and we went on one trail that had a few information posts that were informative. Worth the stop
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Craters of the Moon National Monument
- Sun - Sat: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
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Not Wheelchair Accessible
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