Hike Location: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Geographic Location: southwest of Arco, ID (43.44595, -113.53475)
Length: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: 3/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: July 2011
Overview: A mostly flat trail leading to several cave entrances.
Monument Information: http://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm
Hike Route Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=135347
Directions to the trailhead: The entrance to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located on US 20/26/93 18 miles west of Arco or 25 miles east of Carey. Enter the preserve, pass the Visitor Center, and begin the main loop road. The trailhead for the Caves Trail is located at stop 7 on the loop road.
The hike: For my general comments on Craters of the
and Preserve, see the Devil’s Orchard hike blog entry. The trail described here explores the caves section of the preserve. Unlike muddy limestone caves familiar to most travelers, these caves formed as pockets in the lava flow and hence are very rocky, dark, and somewhat unstable. For these reasons, permits and appropriate equipment are required to enter the caves themselves. However, visitors walking along this trail can look into the small lava caves with minimal risk and no special accommodations. Moon National Monument
|Caves Trail heads into the lava|
At 0.25 miles, you reach signed Dewdrop Cave, the smallest of the four caves. Dewdrop Cave is 10-17 feet high, and most of the cave can be seen from the trail. If you choose to venture into the cave, watch your step on the loose black rocks that cover the cave floor. The trail also forks at Dewdrop Cave. To save the largest cave for last, I chose to take the left (north) fork first.
|Entrance to Boy Scout Cave|
Turn around at
, retrace your steps to Beauty Cave , and then angle left to begin the south arm of the trail. The trail heads due south across more black rock. A collapsed lava tube forms a black crater only feet from the trail. Dewdrop Cave
|Collapsed lava tube|
|Steps descending into Indian Tunnel|
|Cairns on trail across lava rock|