A short 55-minute road trip from Hailey lies a landscape like something from another world—Craters of the Moon. The Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is over 1,117 square miles in size, featuring 60 lava flows and 25 cinder cones that measure up to 820 feet high. Lava eruptions occurred in this area from 15,000 to just 2,000 years ago, leaving a stark landscape with little vegetation. 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.”
Today, Craters of the Moon provides visitors with a modern visitor center and a 7-mile loop road to view the unique landscape. Marked hiking trails take adventurous visitors into less accessible areas, while the loop road features convenient pull-offs with shorter paved paths and interpretive signs. There’s a lot to do here, with lava caves to explore (with a free permit), cinder cones to climb, and wheelchair-accessible trails into the lava fields. In the spring,
alpine flowers bloom; in the winter, the loop trail is closed but cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails are open.
Camping and picnicking sites are also available at Craters of the Moon. The visitor center features informative videos and interpretive exhibits as well as a book/gift shop and vending machines.
Food and fuel are available in Carey (25 miles to the west) and in Arco (19 miles to the east) along Route 20. The closest lodging is in Bellevue and Hailey.
To get to Craters of the Moon from the Wood River Valley, follow Route 75 south of Bellevue to Route 20. Turn left and continue east to Craters of the Moon, a distance of 54 miles. For additional information, visit www.nps.gov/crmo.