About Craters of the Moon
Acres of black lava, twisted in grotesque shapes, conjure up images of the lunar landscape, for which Craters of the Moon National Monument was named. In 1924 the fresh appearance of the lava led Rober Limbert to guess its age at 150 years. While actually much older than that, the lava fields still retain much of their form and features from when they had just cooled. Lines from the flow of the lava, and cracks from solidifying still remain.
The lava fields are interspersed by numerous volcanic cones of a moderate height. Vegetation has taken hold on cinder-covered slopes. Douglas fir and sagebrush cover the older cones, while antelope bitterbrush and limber pines dot the newer ones. Monkeyflowers and dwarf buckwheat are small flowering plants that survive in otherwise barren cinder fields.
While the park cover 714,727 acres, the freshest and most commonly visited lava flows lie at the northern edge of the park, at the base of the Pioneer Mountains. U. S. Highway 20, 26 and 93 passes along the base of the mountains, and the visitor's center and park entrance are located here. Although the park stretches for 50 miles to the south and southwest, lava fields cover most of the Snake River Basin, for a hundred miles to the northeast, southeast and southwest.
Craters of the Moon became a National Monument on May 2, 1924. It was visited by 178,107 people in 2003.