On the way home from Boise we decide to make another side trip, this time to the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve near Arco, ID. During the 190 mile, 3 hour trip from Boise to Arco, the nearest town to the Monument, there was nothing. No gas stations. No fast food. No mom and pop store. Nothing. I can't stress this enough. Nothing. David and I became vaguely concerned about options for lunch. Once you arrive in Arco there is a gas station that has a little convenience store so we were able to get drinks and snacks. David, as per his usual, picks out hot and spicy pork rinds...a decision he later comes to regret.
As I mentioned in my last post, this part of Idaho isn't what I expected but what you really don't expect is to be driving along and come to a volcanic wasteland.
This wasn't one volcano but a group of them called The Great Fissure. The National Monument and Preserve cover 750,000 acres.
There is a very nice visitor center where we watch a movie about a man who in 1920 hiked across the entire length with another man and a dog. The poor dog was wishing pretty quickly he had been left at home. The sharpness of the rocks damaged his feet both quickly and badly. Geologists say this is the most recent fissure eruption in the US (excluding Hawaii). In 1924, President Coolidge used the 1906 Antiquities Act to preserve this area as a National Monument.
There are campsites here for both tent camping and RVs. It is easy to understand why NASA sent astronauts here in 1969 to prepare for moon missions.
There are several parking areas where you can walk a trail to view the different kinds of volcanic rock along with the other scenery here. I will say these were not really ADA friendly although they are paved. The paths were narrow and not really flat and it was easy to trip if you weren't paying attention to where you were walking. Or even if you were if you are like me and find yourself tripping at places like the mall or the parking lot at Walmart.
There was a surprising amount of wildlife here including lots of chipmunks, some who posed nicely to have their portrait done.
And a large variety of birds.
There is a surprising amount of vegetation, considering all of the rock. Lots of sage and other desert/scrubby bushes and craggy trees.
A lot of the trees appear to be dead and those make up some of the most interesting scenery for me.
There is one large mound of fine gravel rock that you can hike to the top of.
This picture doesn't do it justice. That is not an easy hike. As we were going up a man and woman coming down notified us that when you get to what looks like the top, it isn't.
You can see a LONG way from up there. Not that the view is what most would consider spectacular since it is scrub brush, dead trees and volcanic rock but I think it has a beauty of it's own. It is very windy at the top and I have to hold my shirt down lest I flash the other visitors.
I have always really liked black & white photography and this place lends itself to that, in my opinion. Here are a few of my favorites:
We spent close to 3 hours here and I am glad we made this side trip. It is a very interesting place and it isn't overrun with tourists. We set off for home with the hot and spicy pork rinds and a bag of ruffles because the visitors center didn't have any food at all, no snack bar or anything for purchase. Home is 260 miles away, approximately 4 1/2 hours. We haven't eaten a meal since breakfast in Boise, around 7 hours ago. The snacks don't hold us for long and we are both seriously hungry not far down the road. I keep thinking we will pass something, anything but just like the first half of the drive, that is an incorrect assumption. I start to be vaguely concerned we will have to go all the way to Hamilton, only about 30 miles from our house before we find food. Then I see a sign for Salmon, ID. A town I have heard and it has a sign so it has to be big enough for us to find something to eat, right?
Driving through Salmon on a Sunday told us very quickly that our choices would be limited. We were actually slightly concerned there wasn't anything open at all until we made it to the very far edge of town, right before our turn for home. Burger King. David is very happy, he likes Burger King. Not only do I not like Burger King it is one of those that is inside a gas station, not my favorite place to eat food. Plus, as a person who tries to not eat meat, Burger King isn't a great option. But, we are both so hungry there is no way we are passing this by. We both assume at this point we won't see anything else between here and Hamilton, close to another 100 miles away.
They are offering their fish sandwich at this time so that is what I order. It is terrible. I only eat half. David eats all of his burger even though he was still feeling a little queasy from the pork rinds. As you can image, this doesn't help. I make the remainder of the drive home with him in the passenger seat on strict orders to tell me if he plans to puke so I can pull over.
Next time I think we will take a cooler with food and drinks and possibly other life sustaining items like flares and toilet paper because we might find ourselves in need of them out here on the lonely highways and back roads of Idaho.
I feel ya buddy. I really do.