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Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Craters of the Moon National Monument

 

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Lava field. The white dome in this picture is called a kipuka.
  • IMG_0732Website: Craters of the Moon
  • Cost: $20.00 per car for one week pass
  • Visitor center hours vary by season
  • Campground in the park
  • Backcountry camping permitted in the preserve
  • Scenic drive
  • Hiking
  • Picnic areas
  • Caving
  • International Dark Sky Park
  • When to go: anytime.
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Lava flow

Getting There

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Idaho Falls, Idaho, which is 130 miles from Craters of the Moon, has a regional airport that is served by a few national carriers. We are going to start our trip from there, so get your camera ready and let’s hit the road!

Note: Salt Lake City, Utah has the closest major airport and is 300 miles from Craters of the Moon.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: The Sandpiper Restaurant – 750 Lindsay Blvd. – great food and great service.

From Idaho Falls take Highway 20 west toward Arco, Idaho.

Bonus stop: EBR-1 National Historic Landmark. For those wanting to satisfy their inner geek, this stop is for you. EBR-1 was the first nuclear reactor to generate electricity, and it is located at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Unfortunately, the museum is only open only during the summer.

IMG_0701Travel tip: West of INL on the South side of Highway 20, there is a rest area (with nice restrooms) that has some outside displays with great information about the region. We highly recommend spending a few minutes here learning about Nuclear Reactors, the Eastern Snake River Plain, the Great Rift, the Lost Rivers, and other interesting topics.

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Just one example of the beauty of Idaho

Below is one of several buttes (volcanic perhaps?) along Highway 20 between Idaho Falls and Arco. This region has many lava flows, cones, rifts, and other volcanic features, most of which are contained in the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. The combined lava flows of the monument and preserve cover over 600 square miles. That’s a lotta lava! Check it out on Google Earth sometime.

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Continue west on Highway 20 to the town of Arco, Idaho.

Bonus stop: Arco, Idaho.

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Stop in Arco to see Number Hill, and we highly recommend stopping for lunch at Pickle’s Place. Good food in a retro diner atmosphere. We ate at the counter with a local man who told us the story of the Apollo astronauts coming to Arco in the 1960s to train at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Hearing his story was one of the highlights our trip.

From Arco take US Highway 26/93 west 19 miles to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve Visitor Center. Drive time between Idaho Falls and Craters of the Moon: 2 hours.

Travel tip: as with many remote sites, GPS systems may not be reliable for directions to this park. Refer to your road atlas if in doubt.

Destination: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

The first stop is the visitors center where films, displays, and exhibits explain the characteristics of the park. Learn to identify the many different types of lava, and find out if the volcanoes are still active. The pictures below show some of the features of the park.

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Spatter cones
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Inferno Cone Trail
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Lava flow and cinder cones
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Spatter Cone
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We love the contrasting landscapes of this shot! (This type of lava is called a’a.)

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Craters of the Moon. We post our journeys simply because we love sharing them with you. Our hope and mission is for you to be inspired by our photos and guided by our experiences in order to seek your own adventures in the wonderful national parks and beautiful cities of our great country. For those who can’t “just get in the car”, we love that we can provide you with virtual travel experiences. Please leave us a message below and tell us about your own travels. We would love to hear from you. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Death Valley National Park

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  • Website: Death Valley
  • Cost: $30.00 per car for a 7 day pass
  • Hotels/resorts and campgrounds in the park
  • Restaurants and concessions in the park
  • Scenic drives
  • Historic sites
  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Backcountry camping
  • When to go: winter, early spring, late fall. Visitors should be extremely cautious in the summer months when temperatures rise dramatically.
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Devil’s Golf Course – these “rocks” are actually salt crystals. The Panamint Mountains made a nice backdrop for this shot. Note the alluvial fan at the base of the mountains.

Getting There

Our trip is going to start in Las Vegas, Nevada, which has a major airport and is only 123 miles from Death Valley. Ice down a cooler full of water, grab your favorite road snacks, and let’s go to Death Valley!

From Las Vegas, take I-15 south to Highway 160 west to Pahrump, Nevada.

Travel tip: make a restroom stop and top off you gas tank in Pahrump.

From Pahrump, continue northwest on Highway 160 to Bell Vista Avenue. Take Bell Vista (which changes to Bell Vista Road) west across the California state line to Death Valley Junction and Highway 190. Continue in to the park on Highway 190. Drive time between Las Vegas and Death Valley: 2 hours.

Travel tip: Look for wild burros and horses along Highway 190.

Destination: Death Valley National Park

IMG_2601Arguably, Death Valley holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth – 134º F in July of 1913. Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America, sitting at 282 feet below sea level. With an average of 1.5 inches of rain per year, Death Valley also holds the honor of being the driest place in North America. We are used to hot, dry weather where we live, but the 111º F (before noon) temperature when we visited Death Valley felt like a different type of oppressive heat that seemed heavier to us for some reason. With that said, we caution you to be conscious of the weather and prepare for harsh conditions when visiting this park, especially in the late spring, summer, and early fall. Also, make sure your car is in tip-top condition before starting a road trip through Death Valley.

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This is a spring in the salt flats at Badwater Basin, but the water is too salty to drink.

Death Valley is hot, dry, and its spring water is too salty for humans or animals to drink. So why would anyone want to go there? Well, see below…

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Breathtaking Beauty
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Vibrant Colors at Artist’s Palette
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Magnificent Mountain Vistas

When thinking of a desert, one usually thinks of sand dunes and scrubby cactus. At least that is what we envision when we imagine desert scenery. Death Valley is different from other deserts because of its diversity. The park features 11,000 foot mountains, wildflower super blooms after rare rains, as well as sand dunes. Badlands, salt flats, and dry lake beds where rocks race across the parched ground on their own, can also be seen here. With so much to offer, it’s easy to see the many facets of this unique landscape. And speaking of lake beds, all of Death Valley was once a lake. A trip here is definitely worth the time, and it’s not just about the scenery. This park also features oases, historic ghost towns, abandoned mines, and even a castle!

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Badlands of Zabriskie Point
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Salt Flats of Badwater Basin
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Multi-faceted Beauty

Did you know that borax was once mined in Death Valley? The mine was called Harmony Borax Works, and they hauled the borax 165 miles to Mojave, California, using huge wagons pulled by teams of twenty mules. One of the wagons can still be seen at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. The trip from Death Valley to Mojave took ten days and had to have been grueling. Today at Death Valley, there is a park road through scenic Twenty Mule Team Canyon. While the wagons probably didn’t travel this exact area, it is a wonder how they managed to get their animals and wagons through the rugged terrain of what is now Death Valley National Park.

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In Twenty Mule Team Canyon
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View of the terrain and park road through Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Thank you for joining us on our trip to Death Valley National Park! We hope that we have given you some insight and inspiration for planning your own trip to see this wondrous place. That is our goal in sharing our information, after all. We will leave you with one last look at beautiful, otherworldly Zabriskie Point.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Canyonlands National Park

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  • Website: Canyonlands National Park.
  • Cost: $30.00 per car.
  • Camping available in the park. Backcountry camping available with permit.
  • Hotels and restaurants available in Moab, Utah.
  • Hiking, biking, climbing, river activities and backpacking are all popular activities in this park.
  • When to go: Anytime.

Although it is practically next door to Arches National Park, Canyonlands is an entirely different experience! The park’s unique terrain was shaped mostly by the Green and Colorado rivers which converge in the park. The Colorado River then flows to Lake Powell and onward through the Grand Canyon and on farther until finally emptying into the Gulf of California. Ah, the power of water… Let’s go see how it helped to create beautiful Canyonlands National Park. By the way, this trip starts in Moab. Why? Because if you’re already in Moab, then a visit to Canyonlands has to be on your itinerary.

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Getting There

From Moab, take Highway 191 North to Highway 313, then south on 313 to Canyonlands National Park. Drive time between Moab and Canyonlands: 30 minutes.

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Gooseneck Bend in the Colorado River as seen from Dead Horse Point

Bonus stop: Dead Horse Point State Park. Beautiful state park that abuts Canyonlands National Park. Hiking, biking, camping, coffee shop, and store. Yurt rentals are also available. Don’t miss Dead Horse Point overlook for spectacular views, especially the gooseneck bend in the Colorado River. $20.00 per car for a three day pass.

Destination: Canyonlands National Park

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The park is divided into four sections: Island in the Sky, Horseshoe Canyon, The Maze, and The Needles. Backcountry backpacking may be needed to reach some areas of the park. We got to see the Island in the Sky area and The Needles Overlook. Hopefully the pictures below will give you a little glimpse into the true beauty of the park.

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Fins, spires, hoodoos, and mesas as seen from Island in the Sky

IMG_2325To get from Island in the Sky to The Needles Overlook, go back to Moab, then take Highway 191 south to Needles Overlook Road. Nice little hike from the parking lot to the overlooks. Excellent views and photo ops. Great place for a picnic. Drive time between Island in the Sky to The Needles Overlook: 1.5 hours.

Bonus stop: Wilson Arch. Beautiful arch 30 minutes south of Moab on Highway 191. Hike the (steep) hill to the arch, or just pull over for a few photos.

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Wilson Arch

 

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View from The Needles Overlook

We hope that our overview of Canyonlands National Park has given you the inspiration to start planning your own trip. Click the website link at the top of the page for information about the park. While you’re in the area, here are some other parks that are worthy of a side trip from Moab:

  • IMG_2327Natural Bridges National Monument – 2 hours;
  • Hovenweep National Monument – 2 hours;
  • Canyons of the Ancients National Monument – 2 hours;
  • Four Corners – 2.5 hours
  • Monument Valley – 3 hours.

Thank you for riding along with us! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye  

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018