This is my last set of photos from my trip to Idaho a few weeks ago.  When I was a kid, we used to go up here and camp during the summers... it's maybe one of my all-time favorite trips.  

The Craters of the Moon Lava Field spreads across 618 square miles (1,601 km2) and is the largest mostly Holocene-aged basaltic lava field in the lower 48 U.S. states. The Monument and Preserve contain more than 25 volcanic cones including outstanding examples of spatter cones. The 60 distinct lava flows that form the Craters of the Moon Lava Field range in age from 15,000 to just 2,000 years. The Kings Bowl and Wapi lava fields, both about 2,200 years old, are part of the National Preserve.

You can read more about the monument and preserve online if you want.  I won't reprint here what other websites have published except to say that Craters of the Moon National Monument was proclaimed on May 2, 1924 by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge to "preserve the unusual and weird volcanic formations."  For some reason, the fact that a sitting President of the U.S. referred to something as weird tickles me.  But the reality is I'm not sure there's a better word to describe this place.  Stark, barren, desolate and beautiful in its own way.  

I'm not really sure what else to say about it, so check out this photo essay.

I look out over this vista and wonder what people who were coming across the plains through all that grassland thought when they suddenly came across this.  It would be very difficult for a horse to move through a lot of this terrain and downright impossible for a wagon.

Though not a lot of animals live here, there always some who exploit the habitat for their own good.

Looking up from inside a giant lava tube.

Life always finds a way.

The monument has a paved trail which people can use to walk to many of the formations and ice caves.  Were it not for this trail, I'm convinced the Parks Service could open a side business treating broken ankles.  As it was, a school group had gotten there ahead of us and we watched three adults carrying three different kids back to the parking lot because they'd each fallen and gotten hurt.  There's some cool climbing here, but it's brutal for those who don't respect mother nature.

Love this grass being blown by the wind.

Dead tree near lava formation. 

This is why the Oregon Trail travelers in the 1850s and 1860s followed an alternate route in the area that used old Indian trails that skirted the lava flows. Just try getting a horse to accept going through that.