Friday, June 29, 2012

Craters of the Moon National Monument

OH.My. Gosh. This place was amazing. When we asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was, they couldn't decide. When I asked Blair he said the scenery. I said that there was so much to see and do without a billion hour drive or extremely long hikes (I talk a lot more than he does). 

But I get ahead of myself. What is Craters of the Moon, you ask? It's a National Monument in Idaho. It is way out in the middle of nowhere. The closest town, Arco, is mostly boarded up; there are only a few businesses still open. That's where we camped, though, at Mountain View RV Park. It was lovely. Lots of grass and trees and the lady that owns it was super nice. 

And then.

Then you drive about 20 miles into what seems to be the middle of the middle of nowhere. All around you are low hills and scraggly sage brush. You see a sign that says Visitor Center 1/2 mile, so you turn there, and suddenly you're in a whole new land. 

Craters of the Moon was made by a volcanic eruption about 2,000 years ago. It is incredible. The pics don't do it justice. The whole place is lava. There is the Devil's Orchard, which some priest one time said was only fit to be the garden of the devil (but I thought it was gorgeous. Maybe I'm a evil). There are .5 mile hikes up to the tops of some of the smaller volcanoes and you can look down into the mouths. My kids thought that was especially cool.

And then there were the caves.They were created by the lava on top cooling and hardening faster than the lava below it, so the interior lava hollowed it out. I think there were 4 or 5 in all. We went in 4 of them. One was just a small one that didn't really have anywhere to go. Indian Cave was like 800 meters long, but it had skylights throughout so you didn't need a flashlight. Just lots of stuff to climb all over. Sienna, in particular, loved it. I couldn't get over how fearless she was. Going down into dark spaces that I was hesitant to go in, or climbing all over rocks and hillsides like a mountain goat. She was completely surefooted. 



Carson...not so much.

We took a package of 100 band aids on this trip. Between my three kids we used about half of them.
The last two caves we went in were hard to get in and hard to get out. Especially carrying a small child. Also, you had to use flashlights because it was pitch black and the footing was really treacherous. But climbing and exploring under those lava beds was one of the coolest things I've ever done. 
We loved the trip. We stayed for 5 days and I would have liked at least one more. Everyone should check this place out, at least once, before they die.

Things to Ponder