Craters of the Moon National Monument
02.09.2013 - 03.09.2013
Labor Day, 2013
We spent the afternoon hiking the viewpoints at Craters of the Moon National Monument in central Idaho. Black chunky stretches of lava bend up slopes to cinder cones and craters. All the viewpoints have informative signage that helps one understand how this landscape was formed, and continues to evolve.
The last lava probably flowed here about 2,000 years ago -- pretty recent, in the grand scheme of things! I had no idea we had such volcanic areas in the "lower 48" states. We climbed a barren black cinder cone to gaze at the entire rift area, stretching out across the low landscape. We wound up paved walkways to peer into spatter cones. We strolled the level paved path through the Devil's Orchard to understand the limber pines and the ground plants that thrive in the crevasses. We climbed over rocks and into lava tube tunnels to marvel at the size and implications of these tubes.
I couldn't help but consider the first wagon train scouts that came upon this area. Beyond the obvious question of how to get horses, oxen, wagons and people across this jagged "mess," were they afraid of the cinder cones erupting? Did they comprehend the significance of the landscape? How did they explain the strange rock formations and the odd colors of the earth to their children?