Craters of the Moon
Do you remember what killed off all of the dinosaurs? Well this has absolutely nothing to do with it. I know the name may be a little misleading, and when I went to teach this to the kids at first, I was a little confused. Crater’s of the Moon was actually named by none other than the taxidermist (strange right?), Robert Limbert because well, the lava fields closely resemble the surface of the moon. If you ever get the chance to visit, you will see exactly how the name was coined. Huge cinder cones, spatter cones, frozen in time lava flows and caves span this almost 2000 square mile monument. Nathan and I totally nerded out when we finally got to see pahoehoe and aa lava (pronounced pa-ho-ho and ah ah) in REAL life. We’ve studied it for so many years in college, assuming Hawaii was the only place to see it, and lo and behold, America’s other Hawaii, aka Idaho, made our lives complete.
We visited here in the beginning of June and we were very surprised to still see snow inside some of the spatter cones. Some of us wanted to jump inside to grab some (it was me), but the adult of the family told us we weren’t allowed. We also arrived in the middle of a hurricane wind storm, which apparently is very common there. Nothing teaches the texture and makeup of pumice like it flying 100mph into your bare skin. We also pretended to throw a huge chunk of pumice for the kids to catch and they squealed with excitement at how light it was despite its size. We had a good talk about density and why pumice was so light. Moments like these will always be remembered (because we scared them into learning obviously).
We ended our day with a 2 mile hike to see the tree molds. After walking for a while we started to feel like we had been led astray. I was assuming the tree molds were….trees. Tall trees stuck in lava. It wasn’t until we passed some other people on their way back, that we realized what we needed to be looking out for. I was embarrassed for thinking that somehow a tree could withstand the heat of the lava and STILL be there standing. What we saw was absolutely spectacular. There were literally molds of trees and what seemed like tree bark left imprinted, was actually the charcoal left from when the trees burned. We were so glad we made the trek out there. A and H were 7 and 4.5 when we did this hike, and they found it very easy. There was a lot of nature to explore on the way, and we are pretty sure we even heard a pika!
Next time you are near Twin Falls, Idaho, I encourage you to check out this amazing piece of geologic history!