Craters of the Moon Trails
To venture onto the lava fields of Craters of the Moon is to enter another world: black lava underfoot twisted like taffy, mounds of frothy rocks that crunch as you climb, and caves moist and dark below the baked surface of the lava flows.
Craters of the Moon sits astride the "Great Rift." Eight times in the past 15,000 years lava poured from cracks which opened along this weak spot in the earth's crust. Expanding gases in the lava ejected bubbly rocks hundreds of feet into the air. In some cases these cinders showered the ground to form cones. Less explosive lava flowed in sheets and rivers. The lava moving beneath the congealing crust sometimes tugged the surface into folds resembling coils of rope. This type of lava is called pahoehoe, which means "ropy" in Hawaiian. Cooler, thicker aa lavawith a consistency much like peanut butterinched along, twisting and shattering into tumbled masses of jagged rocks. Aa is a Hawaiian word loosely translated as "rough on the feet," a description worth keeping in mind as you select your hiking shoes.
You may see all these volcanic features, and others too, on the trails listed at right. CLICK on the trail names to see photos, maps and trail descriptions (trail mileages indicated are round trip).
A Word about Safety!
The black lava captures and radiates the heat of the intense summer sun. An afternoon without steady wind is a rarity. Be prepared!!! Wear sun screen and a hat and carry plenty of water. Fill your water bottles before leaving the visitor center, as there is no running water along the Loop Drive. The lava surface is uneven and abrasive, so wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes.