Find out for yourself what President Coolidge meant when he called Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument “a weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself.” According to the National Park Service, the president made the remarks when he established the park in 1924. Expect to see unusual lava flows, cinder cones and desert beauty when you drive your RV to Craters. Four campsites in the area can accommodate most RVs. Weather conditions change rapidly at the park and wind is common. If you’re driving your RV in snow, make sure it’s winterized and you have extra blankets and clothes.
Discover the Craters of the Moon area on dozens of hiking trails.
Park your RV at Lava Flow campground inside Craters, lace up your hiking shoes and pull on a pair of long pants. The National Park Service wants you to know that lava rock is sharp and abrasive, so stay on the trails. Two trails head out from the campground. You’ll have an easy stroll of .3 miles on the North Crater Flow, but expect a more strenuous climb on the 3.6 mile North Crater. Eight additional trails are accessible; the longest is eight miles from the Wilderness Trail to Echo Crater.
Strap on your helmet and explore the caves at Craters. You’ll feel the temperatures drop underground as you make your way down into Boy Scout Cave, which retains ice year-round. Beauty Cave encloses you in a 300-foot tunnel. Dew Drop Cave is closest to the parking lot for your RV. You can visit the caves during the day and drive 18 miles east to Mountain View RV Park in Arco, Idaho, to spend the night.
Glide through Craters in winter when you can cross-country or snow shoe in the black-and-white landscape. Loop Drive is closed to vehicles, but its four- to seven-mile trails are groomed for winter activities, depending on snowfall, but typically from December through March. Snowshoe walks are scheduled in January and February and no prior snowshoe experience is required. Park your RV overnight at Craters of the Moon/Arco KOA, 18 miles from the monument. The KOA has full hookups for winter comfort.
Within 15 miles of the monument and the town of Arco, Idaho, you can throw a line in the Big Lost River and fish for trout. In the nearby Pioneer Mountains anglers can trout fish at the Mackay Reservoir. If you don’t want to clean your catch in your RV, head to Moose Crossing RV Park in town, which has amenities for fishermen.
The Craters campground is closed in winter, but some of the private RV campgrounds in the area can be accessed year-round. The national campground services are minimal, with water and restrooms, but no hookups. At the private RV parks, most offer full amenities including 50 amp service, laundry, cable TV and many times, free Internet.
- Hiking in Crimea image by Galyna Andrushko from Fotolia.com