Destinations, Kids

Hike the Craters of the Moon for an Out-of-this-word Experience

August 9, 2013 by

Lava tube

Explore a lava tube.

The Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho is a volcanic wonderland that offers hiking, guided caving, and camping that will make you feel like you’re in another world.

Be sure to stop by the visitor center to check out the exhibits, films and advice from staff. You can also pick up a permit here if you plan to enter Indian Tunnel, Dew Drop, Beauty, Boy Scout, or Buffalo Caves.

Looking into a cave

Hikers must pick up a permit to enter the caves.

Hiking the Craters of the Moon Trails

Thousands of years ago, the Craters of the Moon lava field formed during 8 major eruptive periods. Over this time, the lava field grew until it covered 618 square miles.

Today, hikers enjoy clean, dry air and miles of unobstructed views over the lava fields on clear days. The black lava traps and radiates the heat of the intense summer sun so hikers should be sure to carry sunscreen to be reapplied and bottles of water to stay hydrated. Hiking boots or sturdy shoes are also recommended.

Trails include:

  • North Trail Loop (0.3 miles)
  • North Crater Trail (3.5 miles)
  • Devils Orchard (0.5 miles)
  • Inferno Cone (0.4 miles)
  • Snow Cone (1.0 miles)
  • Tree Molds (2.0 miles)
  • Broken Top Loop (1.8 miles)
  • Caves (1.6 miles) – be sure you pick up a permit

Lava landscape

Craters of the Moon Junior Rangers

This park offers interesting and unusual sights to enjoy. In 1969, the Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Joe Engle and Eugene Cernan paid a visit to Craters of the Moon in preparation for future trips to the moon.

Today, the Junior Rangers Program offers kids the opportunity to climb a volcano and explore a lava tube. For more information on the Ranger Program activities be sure to visit their website.

They also offer kids the opportunity to become Geo-Rangers online. To take part, kids complete activities in the Geo-Ranger Manual (downloadable pdf) and then mail it to Craters of the Moon. Upon completion, kids will receive a moon sticker.

This is one park that offers a surreal, out-of-this world experience.

Photo credits: thejesse, thejesse, thejesse

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