One of the world’s most productive potato areas, south-eastern Idaho, is also the home of the spectacular lunar terrain that makes up the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Crossing the arid land heading west, US 20 seem to go on forever, flanked by spiky shoots of volcanic rock where the only living things seemed to be fragrant sage-brush bushes, with no bird or other critter in sight.
We stopped briefly to admire the lunar landscape of the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. Perched at 5,900 feet, this unique area is a geologist’s paradise and served as training grounds for 14 Apollo astronauts in 1969. The monument preserves around 53,500 acres of volcanic formations and lava flows on the northern rim of the Snake River Plain in south-central Idaho.
Craters of the Moon was formed between 2,000 and 15,000 years ago during eight major eruptive periods along the Great Rift. Visitors can admire more than 600 square miles (1600 square km) of lava fields, cylinder cones, and craters, along with lava tubes, which one can explore by hiking the caves formed by hot magma flow. Interestingly, the hotspots that are responsible for eruptions are still alive today, covered by the North American tectonic plate, bubbling up geysers in Yellowstone National Park. Based on the geologic history of the region, another eruption is due within the next 1,000 years, and as soon as 200 years from now.
We headed toward civilization and reached Boise as the sun went down. We set to explore the wooded city and see the cool town that HGTV had featured on its Boise Boys show. To our disappointment, the hills looked brown and we didn’t quite see the green forests that the city’s name promised. Boise had some nice breweries and eateries, quirky shops, and an old Spanish-looking train depot overlooking the city from a hillside garden.
We had planned on staying in Boise for a week, to catch up on rest and work. However, our plans changed quickly. Our RV park was “conveniently” situated right behind the busy airport and by a main highway, which provided a continuous background noise, day and night.
In addition to the noise, the predicted 100+ degree weather for a few days in a row sealed the deal to move on, toward the cooler Deschutes National Forest, Oregon.