Craters Of The Moon
Apr 25, 2021
The activities depicted on this site are inherently dangerous and can result in serious injury or death. Any action that you take as a result of information obtained from this site or any information provided through Hike2Hike is at your own risk.

After spending the previous day wandering around Little City of Rocks, Little City Of RocksCraters of The Moon seemed like a good way to finish off the weekend. I arrived about 15 minutes before the ranger station opened, so I cleaned out my car and waited. The ranger staff was very friendly while I bought my pass and even asked to see a s few of my photos. The previous day I had seen some flowers, and they were excited to see the first few blossoms of the year. After my fun chat with them and purchasing my pass I headed for the driving loop.

spatter cone information sign
spatter cone info sign
first of the spatter cones
spatter cone

The first place I decided to stop was the small area known as the spatter cones. It is a couple of very easy, very short hikes up to the top of a couple extinct volcanoes. As small as they were the ability to look into the inside of an extinct volcano was enjoyable. The one thing that bothered me was how easy all the rock looked to climb. There are signs everywhere asking you not to. But those handholds felt mighty tempting to grab onto. To be clear, I did not climb anything…

The spatter cones were a quick stop and will be for most people. Take in the view and continue along the loop road.

looking down into a spatter cone at craters of the moon
looking inside of the spatter cone
no climbing sign
no climbing sign
several of the infamous spatter cones
spatter cones

The next area I chose to visit is the Tree Molds Trail. It is a couple of miles long and is portrayed as being an interesting historical sight.

The trail itself is flat as it winds through the desert plateau area. The surrounding area is entrancing especially as you think about how this entire area was once volcanic active. Coming from the PNW where I see the greats like Rainier and Baker daily, it feels strange to view the remnants of old volcanoes.

tree molds trail craters of the moon national monument
tree molds trail
tree molds trail craters of the moon
tree molds trail
tree molds trail
tree molds trail

As the trail winds along it passes many collapsed calderas. The trail winds through grassland and provides a grand theater to view the nearby peaks. For a seasoned hiker it was a yawn, but, if you are traveling with a family than you should be able to enjoy every moment. Kids, adults and grandparents alike will be able to walk it.

I was a little disappointed by the ending. It was a couple of holes in the ground with sticks poking out. It did not feel as grand as what I had hoped to encounter from the descriptions. Still I enjoyed the view as I returned to the parking area.

large crater along the tree molds trail
large volcano crater
end of the tree molds trail craters of the moon national monument
end of the trail

My favorite section of the Craters of the Moon came a the next hike. From the same parking lot as the Tree Molds, a trail leads around nearby Broken Top. From the start this was the most interesting of all the trails. It winds along the side of the crumbling peak through pumice fields. The geologic history of the Craters of The Moon area is very apparent here.

broken top loop trail
broken top trail
broken top loop trail craters of the moon
broken top trail
broken top loop trail
broken top loop

One of the cooloest features of this trail is Buffalo cave it is a massive open bat cave you will encounter along the trail. During non-covid times you can actually Purchase a Ticket to enter the cave. I felt unfortunate that I could not, but I got as close as a I could.

buffalo cave entrance
buffalo cave
buffalo cave craters of the moon

As the trail continues along it heads up hill towards the top of Broken Top. It never actually summits (to my dismay), but it does reach a beautiful view point. The view point looks out over and area called the big sink. For a description you can view the photo below. Area’s like this one inside the monument show that you come here for a history lesson, a very fun one.

From the big sink viewpoint, it is a short walk back to the car. Thank goodness because along the way the wind kicked up and it started to rain. Of course, as the day was going, in the 0.5 mile walk back to the car, the weather was back to clouds again.

big sink overlook
big sink overlook
big sink overlook
big sink overlook
information sign about the big sink craters of the moon
information sign about big sink

I planned to leave following my trip around Broken top. But, on my way out the small walk at Devil’s orchard intrigued me. I stopped for it and it was a nice simple 15 minute walk around a cement path. The history relayed in the area was interesting and worth the quick stop.

devils orchard rocks
devils orchard rocks
information sign for devils orchard
devils orchard info sign
devils orcard
devils orchard

In all, If you want to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument, do so with an eye toward education. You won’t find high adventure here. But learning about the geologic activity of the area is an interesting experienc

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