Benfield's 2013 Travels travel blog

Scenic turnout on Highway 93

Visitors Center sign

Craters of the Moon National Monument Visitor Center

A book we found in the Visitor Center gift shop - Enough...

Visitor Center display of the volcanic activity in the Snake River plain


Along the North Crater Flow Trail


It's cold and VERY windy!

North Crater lava flow









Squeeze ups - Magma and gas pressure breaks the crust and lava...



Pressure ridges

Old cinder cone (7,500 years old)

New cinder cone (2,000 years old)




Rough, jagged lava called Aa (Hawaiian word pronounced "Ah-Ah")

Crater fragments



Smooth or ropey lava called Pahoehoe (Hawaiian word pronounced "Pa-hoy-hoy")






Dwarf Buckwheat

Dwarf Buckwheat all over this cinder cone


Our chariot

Along the Devil's Orchard Trail


Broken lava flow

Unusual grasshopper





Lichen on the lava

More lichen



This was our view while eating our picnic lunch


Round Knoll Kipuka

Hole in a splatter cone

A splatter cone

Down into the splatter cone

More splatter cones

Trail to the top of Big Craters

This is a pretty steep trail


That's Lee up there

First view into the Big Craters

Lava trail surface for half the trip

Looking into the crater








Close look at a lava rock

Another lava rock

We've been walking on the moon!

Lava cascade


Caves Trail



Lava tubes


Dewdrop Cave



Lonely little guy

Collapsed Lava Tube

More of the collapsed tube

Pit opening




Indian Tunnel sign

Indian Tunnel

Lee's at the bottom of the steps where the trail becomes a...

Other mouth of Indian Tunnel


Ceiling of Indian Tunnel - Those drips were molten rock when they...


The way back - It continues to be VERY windy and there's...



(As yet) Unidentified bird looking for food in a lava field (Good...

On the way back to Arco

There's rain ahead


Pickles Place, a popular cafe in Arco

Resting in the rocking chair out front

We took these home for tomorrow's breakfast

Number mountain above Arco;

Arco city hall noting Arco as the first city in the world...

Today we drove from Arco, Idaho over to The Craters Of The Moon National Monument which is about 18 miles from Arco. We stopped first at an overlook which looked mainly like a moonscape. Then we headed over to the Visitor Center where we checked out the exhibits and watched a short video about the formation of the National Monument.

We then took the loop road in the park. It has various stops along the way where you can take short or long hikes to see various geological formations. Our first hike was the North Crater Flow Trail. It is a short .3 mile walk that crosses one of the youngest flows in the monument. On this trail we saw pressure ridges and squeeze ups and a young and old cones and crater fragments.

Then we got back in the truck and headed for the next stop which was Devil's Orchard. At this stop island-like lava fragments stand in a sea of cinders. We took the .5 mile hike through other weird features of lava. There were a lot of information signs along the path that talked about the human impact on this landmark and also how the park is being protected today. The first thing we came across was a spot where visitors had broken through a lava flow by walking on it. It left a cave of sorts under the break. Then we saw patches of lichen on various rocks as we walked and signs told us that lichen is the first to come to life and the first to die from air pollution. There were signs of some air pollution that killed some lichen which is amazing since there really isn't any factories around the area. We ran across an iridescent grasshopper so Lee took a picture of him.

We went back to the truck again and drove to the Inferno Cone. We parked the truck right in front of a really nice view and right next to the Inferno Cone so we decided it was a good place to have lunch. I packed some egg salad sandwiches and peach yogurt for lunch. We were both starving by the time we ate. We decided not to climb the Inferno Cone as you walked up and down on cinders. It wasn't really a path. We decided to save our energy for the next hike.

We took a few pictures at the Inferno Cone and then we headed to the Spatter Cones and Big Craters Area. The spatters are like miniature volcanoes. We walked up to one of them and looked down into the huge hole that it left. We took a few pictures of the Spatter Cones in the area. Then we hiked up a steep one-half mile path to a huge crater where we looked down into what used to be a volcano. I was glad we saved our energy for this one!

We then drove on to the Tree Molds Wilderness area but the only thing we did there was to use the rest room as the trail sounded like more work that it would be worth.

We jumped back into the truck and headed for the Cave Area where we took a longer trail that led to Dewdrop Cave and then we hiked over to Indian Tunnel. We were hiking across a lava field and the wind was just ripping across the area. We had our hiking sticks and I was glad because sometimes it was the only thing that kept me on the path because the wind was so strong. We decided not to hike over to Boy Scout and Beauty caves. We kind of feel like if you aren't going to explore the cave, the entrances look pretty much the same. Here you need a permit to explore the caves but since neither Lee or I like confined dark spaces, it just isn't our thing!

Once we fought the wind for about 45 minutes, we were ready to call it a day so we headed back to Arco. Again today we were watching storm clouds over the mountains on the way home but we just went through a few drops of rain. There was one area where we could see snow falling on the mountain tops. Glad it was up there and not where we were!

Once we got to Arco, Lee filled up with fuel. Then we saw Pickle's Place which was close to the filling station. Someone told us to stop there and we can't remember who now, but we can thank them because it was really quite good. Lee had a hamburger and onion rings and I had patty melt and potato salad. The potato salad was the best restaurant potato salad that I've ever eaten. Then they had these huge cinnamon rolls in their display case so we ended up taking two of those home for breakfast tomorrow. Oh, I am being bad. Hope the scale doesn't show it. I'm hoping all the hiking helps!!

As we drove through downtown Arco, we passed City Hall with its huge sign on announcing "ARCO, IDAHO - THE FIRST CITY IN THE WORLD TO BE LIT BY ATOMIC POWER" so we had to get a picture of that.

Then it was back to the campground to try to pick from Lee's 208 pictures and my 204 pictures that were taken today. Yikes!

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