Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho

I had to leave Emma at home today as I headed out for Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, as I knew I would be doing a little hiking, and the temps would probably be too high to leave her in the car.  Once again, no dogs are allowed on the trails.  I really don’t have a problem with this rule since many folks don’t seem to pick up after their pets.
What an unusual place this is.  It’s also very hard to convey, with pictures, the magnitude of the lava flows in this huge area.  My first stop was the visitor’s center where I was one of the first to arrive.  I had to wait about 45 minutes to view the film on the monument.  It was time well spent, however, going through the displays in the center that explained the evolution of the volcanic activity along the Snake River Valley so long ago.  Volcanic and rift hotspots have moved from west to east over thousands of years, and the present hotspot is in Yellowstone.  That means that at some time in next couple of thousand years, Yellowstone will erupt, and who knows what will happen.  Too bad I won’t be here to learn about that!  :)

Due to “Your recovery dollars at work”, about half of the areas to stop and hike at the monument along the auto tour route are closed.  :(  In the long run, this is a good thing, as it’s obvious that all the roads are being re-paved.  Much of the road work has already been done, so it’s a very smooth ride around the loop.
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It’s a crazy landscape, and the designs of the long ago lava flows are interesting.
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All of the trails are paved, which is a good thing.  Walking on the lava would just rip your shoes to shreds! 
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One of the trails I took led to Indian Tunnel.  This was the only trail in the Cave Area that didn’t require a flashlight and hard hat.  The caves in this area are the result of lava tubes.  The picture on the right shows the natural environment of rock pigeons, which are more than abundant in urban areas.  Violet green swallows were also nesting in the lava tubes.
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After walking down those stairs and looking at the cave, I decided to not hike through this lava tunnel.  I’m just not as agile as I used to be, the monument discourages doing these caves alone, and the thought of climbing over all those rocks was more than I felt capable of.  I guess I should have come here several years ago.  :( (you can click to enlarge to get a better feeling of this tunnel)
IMG_3699As I said before, it’s hard to get a real feeling for the magnitude of this place without being here.  You can just imagine the lava flowing and rolling over as it progressed along.
IMG_3712I stopped for lunch at a secluded picnic table and enjoyed some non lava items as I ate.
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This is a harsh environment, but some plants and insects have adapted to it.
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I’ve always been fascinated by pine cones, and these cones from the pine tree shading my picnic table caught my fancy…
IMG_3717as did this flowering plant.
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I bet you didn’t know that NASA’s Apollo Astronauts Alan Shephard, Edgar Mitchell, Eugene Cernan, and Joe Engle learned basic volcanic geology here in 1969 as they prepared for their moon missions.  Yep, they did, and I didn’t know that either.  :)  It was a rather ‘out of this world’ experience today.

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy


  1. Smart woman skipping the caves & tunnels. When I was younger my husband and I used to take our kids into Mammoth Cave like it was nothing at all, as well as other caves in the vicinity. I couldn't do that today.

  2. Your pictures are just fabulous! They gave me a real sense of what the place is all about. Were there many tourists there?

  3. Very intereasting and great pictures.Put it on my bucket list.

  4. Great photos Judy. Those volcanic areas are always interesting and great places to visit.

  5. This was on our list to visit before we had to return home last week. Now we know what we missed thanks for sharing and the pictures are great. We will visit next time we are in the area.

  6. Amazing to just be able to stand there and think of how that placed was formed. I like to just stand in those places and "channel" history...Those lava waves are sooo interesting..I need to put that place on our bucket list...thanx for sharing.

  7. I can see why they call it craters of the moon. Very nice pics!

  8. Judy,

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment on my new site. I am still trying to get caught up on your blog. I am proud to say I am at 5/10 and closing in fast. I also read where you googled Live Writer. Thanks for that. I did the same and downloaded it and now am going to scoot around and see if I can figure it out. Still loving your blog, and all your beautiful pictures. Gordon and Jaunita taught us how to geocache by phone and email. Really nice people. Again thanks, Pidge

  9. Judy,
    I am finally catching up on your blog; your finish up at Yellowston; move and booboo; the goats and today's adventure! Great photographs as always!
    We are in Door County, WI. It's been disappointing for me. Tomorrow we are leaving for the UP of Michigan, a place we've been before and loved so I'm hoping for something to maybe blog about!!!!! So far nothing has been too eventful on this trip...

    Take care and I'll check back when I can!!!

  10. GREAT post! I've been wanting to visit this national monument for so long! It's a shame Emma couldn't tag along, but I can understand why. :|

  11. Great post! I love the pics and you really did capture the vastness of the area. It will definitely go on our "to see" list.
    Very interesting about the Apollo Astonauts using this area for training/learning of volcanic geology. Neat!

    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  12. Super post! I was not aware of this spot. Hope to visit someday based on your excellent post and pics. Thanks, LG

  13. Wow.. fantastic pictures! Thanks for taking us along on your journey!!!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard