Craters Of The Moon National Monument: In One Day

It was dark, the kids were asleep, and we were driving through the same part of Idaho that we had many times before. We hadn’t decided where to camp or how long to drive so we exited the highway, towards Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Our Sprinter van was the reason we made this choice; we didn’t have cell service, there weren’t any hotels, and I had not idea if there was anywhere to sleep once we got there. It turns out that the closest hotels are more than 30 miles from the park and the campground was full.

We parked our van near the visitor’s center and settled in for the night.

The next day we work up and it looked like we were on the Moon. The kids were amazed and excited all at once!

It looks like I imagine the moon!

5 Helpful Tips For 1 Day At Craters of Moon National Monument.

  1. Plan where to stay. The campground is small and may be full. Other lodging options are approximately 30 miles away.
Craters of the Moon

2. Check out the visitor’s center! Not only can you get your National Parks Passport stamp and your Junior Ranger badge but it has displays, movies, and activities for everyone!

3. Bring a headlamp! The lava tubes are a must-see. The caves trail offers easy access. You must get a Caves Permit prior to entering the caves. The permit is free.

caves: lava tubes

4. Prepare for the elements. Bring a jacket if it is windy and a hat if it is sunny. The trails are exposed and you will be out in the weather.

sun. wind. moon rock. the kids loved it!
walk on the moon on a clear day

5. Bring food and drinks. It takes a bit to get back to town to the East and even longer to the West. There aren’t restaurants or gas stations right there so pack a lunch, grab a picnic table, and enjoy!

a nice walk on the moon on a clear day. the kids ran part of the way.

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23 thoughts on “Craters Of The Moon National Monument: In One Day

  1. I always love visiting volcanic areas so this is right up my street! It really does look how you imagine the moon would look doesn’t it? The coolest thing is those lava tubes! I have never seen anything like that – i love that you’re kids could get inside and explore them.


  2. No way! This is so awesome!! What a great place to see (and looks like it’s awesome for kids too!). I’m Canadian and have so much of the USA to discover. Adding this to my list!


    1. My 6 year old son said something like: we really are explorers!
      It is cool because unlike other caves and lava tubes that I have been in, you go in one side and out somewhere else, without a guide! Fun!


  3. Ahh, I wanna go here someday–I found out about its existence when I was planning for my road trip and was thinking about adding it but it was super out of the way. 😦 The name itself sounds awesome + I’d love to check out the lava tubes!


  4. This place really does look like the moon. I could take some photos here with a glass helmet, photoshop the sky away to turn the background into space and say that I have actually been to the moon. 😀 I seriously would love to check this place out now, I love visiting national parks and landscapes like this but I have to admit, I never heard of the Craters of the Moon national monument before, so this is a place I need to add on my US list. It does look amazing. 🙂


  5. Hey Molly, this sounds awesome. How far in advance to you have to apply for the lava tubes permit? Cause that sounds amazing. I love how easy yet fun this park is. We explored a fun small park in Utah a few years ago that was a former lava field and it was really cool to explore the different sections and see a lava tube from the outside.


  6. I have not visited Craters of the Moon NM, but it looks wonderful with lots of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. I can imagine that your kids would have been really excited by this strange landscape. Was the Parks service okay about you parking near the Visitor Centre as opposed to in the campsite? Some are and some are not, it seems. That is the beauty of having a camper van or motor home though!


  7. We only saw the sign to this National Monument when we drove through Idaho. I will make sure to stop here next time we go to Idaho, Washington, and down to Oregon road trip. It looks really cool to walk on and explore “the moon”. I wonder if they let visitors to stay spend a night at the parking or they’ve been kind to you.


  8. Woah! I have never heard of Craters of the Moon, until now! Sounds like an amazing location. Would love to visit one day!!


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