Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
This preserve’s seemingly desolate and bizarre appearance—windswept landscape, lava flows, craters—inspired its lunar name and gave NASA a place to train the Apollo astronauts. Although volcanic activity is thought to extend back 6 million years, it’s estimated that the surface was formed only during the last 15,000 years, the result of some 60 lava flows from 25 volcanoes. The last eruption took place 2,000 years ago, but more are anticipated.
Although the preserve appears lifeless, at least 2,000 species of insects thrive here, as do more than 160 species of birds and numerous mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Spring and summer see a vivid carpet of wildflowers; in winter, the park is groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Short trails off the 7-mile Loop Road lead to spatter cones, lava tube caves, and volcanic craters. A visitors center has exhibits and a video that explain the forces that shaped the landscape.
- Arco, Idaho 83213
- 43.40114200, -113.53058600
- Visitors center: Labor Day--Memorial Day, daily 8--4:30. Memorial Day--Labor Day, daily 8--6.
- Visit Website
- (208) 527-1335