What a difference a few days and 500 miles can make! Before heading out for Craters of the Moon this morning I had to replace the bear spray in my daypack with a flashlight. No bears here!
In 1924 then President Calvin Coolidge used the 1906 Antiquities Act to proclaim Craters of the Moon a National Monument to preserve “a weird and scenic landscape, peculiar to itself.”
Also impressive, in 1970 Congress designated much of this National Monument as wilderness – one of the very first in the National Park System. One of the interpretive panels in the park sums it up “The absence of modern man’s works leaves this land in its natural state, free from human controls while providing outstanding opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation.”
There are some great hikes in the park and the presence of lava tubes gives one an opportunity to climb around in some very cool natural caves.
Lava tubes form much the same way a river ices over in the winter. The surface freezes (or hardens) but liquid continues to move under the crust. In the case of the lava tubes, when the eruption ceases molten lava drains out leaving a cave, or lava tube behind. It was an experience to climb down into this hole in the lava and explore the Boy Scout Cave.
The Broken Top Loop trail is a great way to explore the park. A unique feature of the park is the thin crust of blue glass coating the surface of some of the lava flows. They believe the color is caused by traces of titanium in the rock or by tiny nanocrystals in the rock that refract and reflect light.
This feature is rarely seen on flows outside of Craters of the Moon.
Craters is a great example of mother natures ability.
When this traveler can barely keep a house plant alive, nature can grow trees right out of the rocks…….
While visiting Craters of the Moon I camped at the KOA Campground in the nearby town of Arco. A nice little place to stop with very friendly owners that take pride in the campground. Arco, Idaho is an interesting town (very small) with an even more interesting claim to fame.
On July 17, 1955 the lights of Arco were successfully powered by atomic energy. Chosen by the Atomic Energy Commission as an experiment in the peaceful use of atomic power, Arco became the first town in the free world to be served by electrical energy developed from the atom. The energy for the experiment was produced at the National Reactor Testing Station in the desert south of town.
It is amazing the interesting things you find when you just get off the main road and explore the United States!