Craters of the Moon formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago. Lava erupted from the Great Rift, a series of deep cracks that start near the visitor center and stretch 52 miles (84 km.) to the southeast. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles (1600 square km.). The smaller Wapi and Kings Bowl lava fields also formed along the Great Rift during the most recent eruptive period (approximately 2000 years ago).

Over the past 30 million years, this region has experienced extensive stretching. A recent example of these on-going forces was the 1983 Mount Borah earthquake. During that event the highest point in Idaho, Mount Borah, got a bit higher when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake occurred across the base of the Lost River Range.

Begin your Craters experience with a stop at the Visitor Center for maps, trail suggestions and information about upcoming presentations, guided hike and events. Visitors to Craters can drive the loop road or hike a variety of trails. In the winter, it is a popular spot for snowshoe treks and cross country skiing.

Plan to stay as the sun goes down and check out the out of this world night skies at Craters of the Moon. The area is a designated International Dark Sky Park, which means there will be no shortage of stars to observe.

Things To Know

  • Two of the trails are handicapped accessible.
  • Check the website for events and guided nature hikes.
  • Sunscreen and a brimmed hat are recommended.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes.
  • If planning to visit the caves, a flashlight is needed.
  • A free Wilderness Permit is required to spend the night in the Craters of the Moon Wilderness area. They can be picked up at the Visitor Center during business hours.
  • A permit is required for commercial filming or photography in the park. Contact the park for more information.