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A Side Trip to Craters of the Moon

A visit to a moonscape

Google Maps said it would be an 8-hour drive to Craters National Park. That was well and good but not quite accurate here. Add on a few hours and get a late start and we are good to get there after dark.

The road was nearly all 2-lane and immediately after leaving Glacier, curvy. Maybe an hour drive after Glacier we hit road work, where the pavement had been removed so that it was sometimes gravel and sometimes dirt. A very slow go. After many miles of road construction, the roads were still 2-lane but very smooth.

The glaciers were visible for a couple of hours and I’d love to return to Glacier on this road. The views were so beautiful in the rear view mirrors. But hopefully, the roads construction will be completed.

We arrived in Arco, the closest city to Craters, at dark about 10pm. The KOA was ready for us and we were ready to eat dinner and sleep. By the way, the KOA did not appear to have any dumps at the campsites but the price was right, only $29 per night with a free breakfast.
Craters of the Moon consists of cinder cones, splatter cones, caves, lava tubes and lava flows, some as recent as 2,000 years ago. The volcanic activity here, however, did not occur from a cone or mountain, like Mt. St. Helens, but rather, from fissures under the surface. We found hardened lava flows much like the ones we’ve seen on TV in Hawaii, but here the lava came from cracks in the surface of the ground. The lava is thin on top so that it will break when stepped on.

There are cinder cones throughout the park and chunks of lava that blew out. Plants have started growing on the older flows.

There are several hikes to take on paved walkways, some only ½ mile long with little elevation change. Interpretive signs tell the story of the area.
The hike, The North Crater Flow, is closest to the visitor’s center and located on lava flows that mostly look like long fat spaghetti noodles. There is one area of a’a’ lava which consists of lava chunks. The 2nd hike that we took, Devils Orchard, went thru an older flow where the plants and trees have started to come back.

Unfortunately, we were only able to take the 2 easiest hikes as we did not have much time to spend. But there was much to learn on the 2 hikes and it was a very interesting side trip.

Posted by Miss Chris 16:49 Archived in USA

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