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Craters of the Moon National Monument
Geologic Sightseeing > Craters of the Moon National Monument (ID) 
Location
86 miles west of Idaho Falls; 18 miles southwest of Arco, Idaho.
 
Description
Craters of the Moon National Monument, co-managed by BLM and the National Park Service, is a vast open area that hosts some of the world’s finest examples of recent basaltic volcanism, comparable only to the rift volcanic systems of Hawaii and Iceland. The site includes Holocene-age (less than 10,000 years old) lava flows, remnant native plant communities, rift volcanism crack sets, and volcanic caves. The monument also contains “kipukas,” islands of native sagebrush-grassland communities surrounded by lava. Black night skies and broad open country characterize this wild landscape.
 
Directions
From Idaho Falls, follow U.S. Highway 20 west about 68 miles to Arco. Follow U.S. Highway 93 about 18 miles southwest to the Craters of the Moon Visitor Center. Other parts of the monument can be accessed on unpaved roads from the town of Carey, also located on U.S. Highway 93 (25 miles west of the visitor center); from the town of American Falls via Pleasant Valley Road (67 miles west of Idaho Falls); or from two locations on State Highway 24 near the town of Minidoka (132 miles west of Idaho Falls).
 
Visitor Activities
Hiking, wildlife viewing, geologic sightseeing, and big-game hunting.
 
Special Features
A main feature of the monument is the Great Rift, a 62 mile-long system of fractures in the Earth’s crust and one of the few exposed volcanic rift systems in the world. Despite the harsh environment, many species of wildlife live here, including mule deer, mountain lions, elk, and moose.
 
Permits, Fees, Limitations
Contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208) 334-3700 for information on hunting license requirements.
 
Accessibility
The visitor center and the developed campground nearby have accessible toilets. One campsite in the campground is accessible.
 
Camping and Lodging
Camping is available at many dispersed primitive sites throughout the monument. A 14-day stay limit applies. Modern camping and lodging facilities exist in the gateway communities of Arco (18 miles), Minidoka (43 miles on unpaved roads), American Falls (45 miles on unpaved roads), Twin Falls (85 miles), and Shoshone (64 miles), and near the National Park Service visitor center at the monument entrance on State Route 93. Fees are only charged on National Park Service developed campsites.
 
Food and Supplies
Food, lodging, and fuel are available in Arco, Minidoka, American Falls, Twin Falls and Shoshone.
 
First Aid
Travelers must possess at least basic first aid skills; assistance is a considerable distance away. The emergency telephone number for this area is 911. Hospitals are located in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls (86 miles), and Ketchum (57 miles).
 
Additional Information
This is a remote desert setting. Precipitation is less than 12 inches per year, with most falling as winter snow. Proper preparation is critical. Roads are usually impassable from late fall to early spring. In summer, the temperature often reaches more than 100°F, with persistent high winds. Visitors should come prepared for any contingency because assistance can be hours or days away. Plenty of water, a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle, first aid kit, maps, and a reliable form of communication are strongly advised. In the summer, wildfires are a threat in the monument area. If you see wildfire, dial 911 or #FIRE on your mobile phone.
 
Contact Information
BLM - Shoshone Field Office
400 W F Street
Shoshone, ID 83352
Tel: (208) 732-7200

Craters of the Moon National Monument Map


Basaltic Fissure: Craters of the Moon National Monument

Basaltic fissure volcanic eruptions, such as the ones that produced Idaho’s Great Rift pictured here, are characterized by relatively slow extrusion of lavas from fissures or vents. (Jerry Sintz, BLM Utah State Office (retired))

 
Last updated: 10-23-2009