Hike the Craters of the Moon's Lava Tubes

1.6 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Colin Ayers

Investigate three incredible caves and lava tubes. Some extend over 1000 feet under the ground.

Craters of the Moon National Monument in Southern Idaho is a vast ocean of lava flows, with scattered islands of cinder and splatter cones created by volcanic activity 15,000 years ago. Over 618 square miles, this surreal field displays the strange geography that can be caused by significant eruptive activity.

Most interesting is a series of caves created by lava tubes that guided molten magma up to the surface, where it bubbled and formed this amazing landscape. When the lava flow stopped, deep tubes were left behind, reaching to the source of the magma. Over the millennia, many of the tubes sealed up and collapsed, but some still remain, extending hundreds of feet below the surface of the park.

The three main caves (Indian Tunnel, Boy Scout Cave, and Beauty Cave) can be easily accessed by following Caves Trail, and are very close to the Cave Area parking lot.

Indian Tunnel is the largest of the caves, with multiple collapses that create skylights. Boy Scout Cave is especially interesting as it has a 2 foot crawl space that extends 15 feet, forcing you to scramble underneath to get out the other side. Beauty Cave is a 300-foot long tunnel, accessible via a scramble down a large slope of rocks.

Safety Note: Watch your step and your head – the caves are cold and dark, and it is very easy to slip on the pools and columns of ice. There are also many precarious, large icicles hanging from the ceiling.

Read More

Tags

Rock Climbing
Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Worth The Drive

Great easy hikes. Very interesting and beautiful in its own way. Don't just drive through. Take the time to get out at each of the stops and explore. Make sure to visit the caves. There is one that is very family friendly. It is amazing to be in the caves! Make sure to go into the visitors center first. Bring flashlights or headlights for the caves. The caves are colder so bring a jacket. Try to go late Spring or early Summer before it gets too hot. You can camp at the campsite at the lava beds but there isn't really any shade. Another option is to camp at the KOA in Arco.

Amazing

Craters of the Moon is like being in a different planet. Definitely hit up Boy Scout👌🏼

Stay Nearby

Moore, Idaho

Craters Of The Moon Group Campground

Overview This secluded camping area at Craters of the Moon National Monument is the perfect spot for organized groups. It is available by reservation only for groups of up to 30 people (May-Septemb...

Mackay, Idaho

Copper Basin Guard Station

Overview Copper Basin Guard Station is located in Copper Basin, a rugged and beautiful area in the Pioneer Mountains of south-central Idaho. Recreation Copper Basin offers many recreational opport...

Mackay, Idaho

Loristica Group Campground

Overview Loristica Group Campground is located in a wooded meadow high in the Lost Creek Range, in eastern Idaho. It sits at an elevation of 8,100 feet. Visitors come to the area for its great trai...

Nearby Adventures

  • Stroll Through Devil's Orchard

    The Devil's Orchard is a quick, family friendly stroll through unique volcanic scenery. If you follow the road past the entrance to Craters of the Moon National Monument, the road to Devil's Orchard will be on your left, marked by a sign. You'll d...

    0.5 miles 3 ft gain

  • Hike the Inferno Cone

    To reach the parking lot at the Inferno Cone Trailhead enter the Craters of the Moon National Monument at the main entrance on the north side of the park off US Highway 26 and go approximately 1.5 miles on the 17 miles Loop Road. There will be cle...

    1 miles 500 ft gain

  • Hike the North Crater Trail

    One of the longest hikes at Craters (none of them are very long), the North Crater trail boasts a view of beautiful red and orange rock along the ridgeline of some massive volcanic craters. You can start the trail from either end—at the campground...

    3.5 miles 666 ft gain

  • Hike the Tree Molds Trail

    The trail starts at the parking lot with bathrooms, bike rack and picnic table at the trailhead. Trailhead coordinates (43°25'40.5"N 113°32'55.3"W)It winds its way along a pretty flat and straight path through desert pine forest along the edge of ...

    2 miles 100 ft gain

  • Visit Idaho

    Idaho is a picturesque state filled with beautiful scenery and warm, wonderful people. It's an ideal destination for family travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, adventure seekers, or those just looking for a relaxing getaway.

    Learn More