Rustic Lens

Craters Of The Moon – Southeast Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve hides in the desert of southeast Idaho.  The most common word I have seen to describe the landscape is other-worldly.  I would have to agree with this sentiment.  The vast barren fields of lava rock, flows, and caves are a sight that makes a lasting impact on visitors.  Cassie and I got our first sight of Craters of the Moon at sunset as we were driving to Idaho Falls.  The next day we came back to explore the lava.

lava flows
This crazy tree looks like a deer carrying something to me. What do you think?

There are campgrounds and a nice visitor center with a gift shop for you to explore as well.  The real exploring is out on the huge preserve though.

walking path on lava fields

The hot-spot that is now under Yellowstone National Park was once under the Snake River Plains.  The Earth’s crust slowly moves over time and the friction of the plates grinding by each other causes the volcanic action that created this monument and Yellowstone.  There are better places to get the science of all this down, including the Craters of the Moon Website.  I find the science interesting, but I find the results and the photographic opportunities more interesting.

Our second stop in the preserve was at the massive pile of tiny black lava rocks called a cinder mound.  There is a trail leading to the top, so we took it.

girl walking up a path
It’s a good climb, but worth it.

The views from the top of this cinder mound are amazing!

girl looking over a vista
A well deserved and needed rest.

Next, we explored the lava tubes and caves.  The lava flows produced hollow tubes that sometimes collapse and reveal caves to explore.

warning sign
I could see some danger to that.

After walking for a bit on the path, we came to a cave that you are allowed to explore.  We were able to walk through the massive cave and climb out on the other side to walk back along the top of the tubes.

Lava tube cave
Some tourists gaze at the huge skylight.

There are more great images for you to see in my Craters of the Moon Gallery.  If you like, you can purchase prints directly from there.

Once in a while, a child can really melt your heart.  Mine did this to me as we came near the end of the cave and she said: “Thank you, Daddy, for bringing me here, this is the best day ever.”

exiting the cave
Someone enjoyed exploring the cave.

If you are planning to check out Craters of the Moon, have a look at my post about some other interesting stops in the area Atomic Idaho.  It’s amazing how much variety of landscape that there is in Idaho!



Evan Jones

I am a landscape and travel photographer who is drawn to old and rusty stuff as well as beautiful landscapes. I like to explore the backroads of the Northwest United States and anywhere else I can get to. My blog is at

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