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It’s nice to have Das Bus working again. We’re currently on our “Consolation Prize Volcano RV Trip” – since our last Volcano RV Trip went down the drain. This time, I’m happy to report, there have been no bumps in the road! (I’m on an idiom kick, roll with me here…)Funny lava rock pose

We just got back from a day of exploring Craters of the Moon National Monument. You should definitely add it to your must-see road trips…what a delightful surprise it was!

Unusual for us, we rolled up without a trip binder or any plans for the day. Turned out we didn’t need it! When you arrive at the Craters of the Moon Visitors’ Center, you’re handed a well-labeled map with all 6 stops the park offers.  Exploring was all planned out for us; just follow the numbers; I love it! The longest trails at any of the stops were 2 miles, so nothing too intense. James still liked to pretend he was a Very-Seasoned-Hiker by wearing his Camelback and using a trekking pole. He did look pretty official, I’m sure the international tour groups and the two year olds hiking in flip flops were very impressed.

Hiking Rocks in ShoeHere’s James stopping to get the rocks out of his shoes.

Area #6 at Craters of the Moon is filled with some pretty amazing caves that you can actually explore on your own, with no guide! The caves were created by hollowed out lava tubes. How cool is that; you’re hiking through lava tubes! But don’t do what we did and forget to check your flashlight batteries before entering.

Me: Uh, honey? I can’t see anything.

James:  Well, that’s because we’re in a cave, and caves are dark.

Me:  But I thought you brought a flashlight.

James:  Yes.   Yes I did.

Me:  Well turn it on!

James:  Um… it is on.

Me:  Then why is there still no light?

James:  Because the batteries in the flashlight are from 1995.

Me:  OK then, Magellan.  What do we do now?

James:  We wait until nightfall, and follow the bats out.

Me:  That’s the best you’ve got?

James:  Yes.

Me:  Just so you know, that wilderness hiking adventure you wanted to take is totally not going to happen now.


Beauty Cave Craters of Moon

Only beauties can enter Beauty Cave. Sorry, James.

Some of the caves don’t require light, since the lava tubes are cracked along the tops, allowing in natural lighting. But spelunking here isn’t for beginners. You are climbing up and down on piles of loose large lava rocks. It was pretty tough going, and a few times, James had to play cheerleader to get me to continue on. Well worth it in the end, but it was definitely the most challenging thing we did today.

The Tree Molds area was probably our favorite. It’s hard to appreciate unless you actually can stand there, but it truly does feel otherworldy. There is no vegetation growing anywhere in the Tree Molds area as far as you can see, which makes it sort of eerie. When the lava destroyed the forest that once stood in the Tree Molds area, some of the trees had enough moisture in them to cool the lava and harden it before the trees completely burned up. It left some pretty amazing fossil imprints of trees in the lava.Tree Mold Hike Craters of the Moon

It took us about 8 hours to do all the trails and see all the sights the park has to offer. I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again, but there are some nerdy science museums in the area James is itching to check out, so I think that’s where you’ll find us tomorrow.

My legs are feeling a bit wobbly after all the hiking around on lava rock. It’s one of those sneaky fitness places. You don’t even realize you’re getting a workout. I can tell I met my workout quota for the day; hold the applause. Seriously, though, this place was such a neat find! We had a great day and we will definitely be back.

See you on the road, friends!