Craters of the Moon
Idaho probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking about volcanoes. And yet, 2,000 years ago an eruption rocked an area that would eventually become the south-central part of the state. Craters of the Moon is a large national monument with an eerie, mystical landscape of lava flows, cinder cones, caves and sagebrush. And even though it covers a huge expanse—750,000 acres—it’s easy to visit. Most of the attractions are fairly short hikes off the seven-mile Loop Road. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Craters of the Moon a national monument, protecting what he called “a weird and scenic landscape, peculiar to itself.” It’s surely unlike anything you’ll experience in other parts of Idaho—and really, anywhere in the continental U.S.
Not far from several interstates and about a 1½-hour drive from Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and the resort town of Sun Valley, the monument is an easy side trip.
Route & Map
Taking US 93 and 26, the visitor center is 90 miles northeast of Twin Falls.
The monument’s Loop Road is seven miles, one-way.
The drive takes just 30 minutes but plan on a few hours for the numerous hikes.
Best Time to Visit
Spring and fall are generally comfortable. Summers can be very hot and even though the monument is open in the winter, snow usually closes the Loop Road from December through mid-April.
The Craters of the Moon official site has maps, fees and tips.