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Family Vacations in Idaho

Family Vacations in Idaho: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Ancient volcanic activity created the lunar-like landscape at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

Called by an early visitor the strangest 75 square miles on the North American continent, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a remarkable volcanic landscape pockmarked with cinder cones, lava tubes, deep fissures, and lava fields. Rather than one large volcano cone, there are many small craters and fissures through which lava flowed at one time. In some places, the molten lava encased standing trees and then hardened. Eventually, the wood rotted, resulting in bizarre tree-shape lava molds. The landscape is so strange and lunarlike that American astronauts have actually trained at the site.

Drive the seven-mile road that loops through the preserve to discover the spatter and cinder cones, lava flows and fields, and craters. The park also has a network of fairly easy trails that provide access to its odd geological features. Plants and wildlife have adapted to the unusual environment and are present in surprising numbers, including several hundred species of plants and about 2,000 insect species. Mammals, reptiles, and two varieties of amphibians make their homes in the stark setting as well.


Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve Information

Address: U.S. Rte. 26 and Craters Loop Rd., Arco, ID

Telephone: 208/527-3257

Hours of Operation: Dawn - Dusk

Admission: $8

After visiting the moon, consider sneaking down the Salmon river on a raft -- read the next page to find out more.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Idaho State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Idaho, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.