October 17, 2022, St. Anthony, ID- The boys noted a white ball cap, at the bottom of the small crater. One of them asked if he might shimmy down and retrieve it-which of course brought his father’s gentle but firm negative response. The presence of the family of five was a delightful addition to one of the most impressive flows of lava rock in the continental United States: Craters of the Moon.
This was my main draw to eastern Idaho, with Three Bears Inn, a cozy family home here in St. Anthony, a very close second. Three Bears is a serendipitous find, coming about when someone at Hotels.com misinterpreted my request for a room in St. Anthony, Newfoundland, last June. I was offered a room here, as compensation, for the charge that was incurred then.
The day started, somewhat chilly, in Jordan Valley, with a convenience store breakfast sandwich the only morning meal option. After a fashion, I headed off towards Idaho’s Owyhee Region. The name is a corruption of “Hawai’i”, coming from fur trappers having brought a crew of Native Hawaiians to the area, in 1819. Three of the Hawaiians embarked on an exploration of the Owyhee River’s canyonlands, but never returned to the base camp. The name Owyhee has been bestowed on the area, spanning parts of Oregon, Idaho and Nevada, in their honour.
I continued past Boise, which will be a stop on the way back to Carson City, and found Little Camas Valley, where some of Idaho’s fall foliage was on view.
The presence of so much basalt, all along Highway 20, interrupts the constant presence of sage brush, as does the large presence of agriculture-both corporate and small scale. The Snake River Plain, from Fairfield in the west to Ashton in the east, is a prime potato growing region. Just shy of Arco, however, Craters of the Moon’s lava fields interrupts the farmlands, as much as the soil itself was created and enriched by the flow. This is the bounty of the Great Idaho Rift.
Here are some scenes, north of the actual monument grounds, and along Idaho Route 20.
Entering the Monument, which focuses on North Crater and its nearby flows, I encountered a family of four, joyfully coming back from a short walk in the lava field across from the Visitor Center. Here is what they saw.
I made the hike to the top of Inferno Peak in ten minutes. There, to greet me, was the Leaning Juniper of the Craters.
The last focus of this visit was on the Spatter Cones, small volcanoes-or as one of the little girls present called, “Baby Volcanoes”.
Lastly, I stopped at Devil’s Orchard, an otherworldly group of standing lava rock. The place was so named by a visiting Christian preacher, in the early twentieth century.
The scope of Craters of the Moon surpasses Arizona’s Sunset Crater, and rivals Lassen. It will be a stop along the way to future visits to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. For now, I settle in for a day or so, with new friends at Three Bears Inn: A strong couple, three sons and a daughter, two cats and two ducklings. Everything is just right.