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Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Idaho is a unique geological landscape in Central Idaho. Located between Sun Valley, Idaho Falls, and Twins Falls, Craters of the Moon is a national monument and preserve and is the result of numerous volcanic eruptions. You can visit Craters of the Moon and learn about Idaho’s geological history.

Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:

History
Regional Geology
Craters of the Moon National Wilderness Area
Visiting Craters of the Moon
Camping

History

Day trip from Boise: Visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

The volcanic eruptions at Craters of the Moon in Idaho began around 15,000 years ago and lasted until fairly recently — around 2,000 years ago. According to the National Park Service (NPS), the lava came from The Great Rift and spanned 52 miles southeast — making it 618 square miles.

Around 2,000 years ago, the Wapi and Kings Bowl lava fields also formed.

Regional Geology

The region has been shifting over the past 30 million years, causing both eruptions and earthquakes and changing the landscape of the area.

The 6.9 Mount Borah earthquake in 1983 and in April 2020 a 6.5 earthquake struck near the area. The Mount Borah earthquake caused the mountain to rise about 1 feet, and the surrounding Lost River Valley sunk by eight feet.

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The NPS reminds us that it has been more than 2,000 years since the last eruption at Craters of the Moon — and the time between their eruptive periods average 2,000 years.

Craters of the Moon National Wilderness Area

The 43,243-acre Craters of the Moon National Wilderness Area was designated in 1970, with another 495,000 acres added in 2000. The designation means the lands will remain undeveloped.

The designation also means that there is a limit on recreation at Craters of the Moon, and obtaining a camping permit is not always easy.

Visiting Craters of the Moon

Day trip from Boise: Visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

Craters of the Moon is open every day, although some areas are closed during winter. Visit this page to check conditions before your visit.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Visitor Center Hours

Craters of the Moon’s summer hours (Memorial Day through the end of September) are:

8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Craters of the Moon’s off-season hours are:

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

The fee to enter is $20 for any vehicle, or free if you have a National Parks Interagency pass.

Camping

You can camp at the lava formations at Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. The fees are $15 per night, and you self-register at the campground.

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You can also reserve the group campground for $30, which holds up to 30 people.

There is also plenty of backcountry camping within the preserve. You will need to obtain a permit before camping.

 

Visiting Craters of the Moon can be a fun day trip from Boise. Bring your hiking shoes and get ready for a look into Idaho’s geological past.