August 9, Day 69: No, not those craters of the moon; Craters of the Moon National Monument! We almost bypassed this national monument to save an hour in our drive from Twin Falls to Jackson Hole. I am so glad we didn’t! The ancient lava flows there were astounding… I haven’t seen anything like that outside of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Can you imagine settlers, looking for a shortcut on the Oregon Trail, finding this in their path. It was a wicked surprise. The name “Devils Orchard” gives evidence to the pioneers’ opinions of the place.
Earlier in the year, my son Dane and I visited the Big Island of Hawaii and saw the flows from the 2018 Kilauea eruption. The Craters of the Moon flows looked as fresh and sharp as those in Hawaii. It is so arid that erosion is much slower here.
Anthill on the Moon
Jean and I drove the park and spied what looked like an enormous black anthill. It was the cinder cone of an ancient volcano, and the people trekking to the top looked as tiny as ants. Parking the Jeep, we followed their trail.
The cone was barren of vegetation except at the very top, where a lone, bent tree grew, stunted by the howling wind. Jean and I shouted to each other but could not hear unless we were within a couple of feet. The views from the top of the cinder cone were expansive and beautiful in their own way. This landscape was formed tens of thousands of years ago by a large volcanic hotspot under the earth’s crust. The tectonic plates have drifted, but the hotspot remains. It is now under Yellowstone, powering its geysers.