In the morning, we packed up and continued driving south of Route 75, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.
We stopped at a popular overlook and took a picture of where we had just been.
We drove for a few more hours through the open Idaho landscape filled with wheat fields and farmland. All of a sudden, the common landscape completely changed before our eyes. We had arrived on another planet!
“In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge used the 1906 Antiquities Act to proclaim Craters of the Moon National Monument preserving, ‘a weird and scenic landscape, peculiar to itself’.”
All around us were rocky, dark grey globs of dried out lava from long ago. The temperature was in the low 90’s when we parked at the Visitor’s Center. We did our typical tour of the museum and asked a ranger to suggest which hike we should take since we were only passing through and didn’t have much time. She suggested two: Inferno Cone and Snow Cone.
You can explore Craters of the Moon via a seven-mile loop road that provides access to trails that take you over, under, and around the various volcanic features. Inferno and Snow Cones can both be reached via a short, steep 0.2 mile walk to see these miniature volcanoes. Below is our view as we made our way up the path to the cones.
As we peered into the cones, we could see snow, lost hats and glasses, and our shadows.
Next, we drove a little further to Tree Molds Trail. We parked and walked across the parking lot to begin a two mile hike to view the imprint of lava-charred trees.
We made it about ten steps down the black, hot path before we both looked at each other and realized it was just way too hot to be doing this. We got back into the air conditioned truck and headed back out of the park. Although this park seems barren, the park’s lava fields and arid sagebrush areas sustain a surprising diversity of plant and animal life. Annual wildflower blooms peak in mid-June. Below is a picture of an area that would be lavish with color during the previous season.
We got back in the truck and continued heading east towards Idaho Falls. In the distance, we saw what looked like homes built up on the hills.
As we got closer, we realized that they were numbers sprayed or carved into rock that represented graduation years. Odd. Before we knew it, we had arrived in Idaho Falls.
We stayed one night at Snake River Run RV Park in Idaho Falls. We would spend the time doing laundry, and I even took a short swim in their outdoor pool.
In the morning, we are heading to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. It will be our stop before we begin the long drive back east to New Jersey for a September wedding.