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Camping at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

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Overview

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush situated in central Idaho. This unique natural landscape was created by a series of volcanic eruptions that began about 15,000 years ago.

Camping Information

Lava Flow Campground:

  • The main campground, Lava Flow Campground, is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • There are approximately 42 campsites which include amenities like picnic tables, water, restrooms, and charcoal grills. Campsites within the loop are available for RV and tent camping.
  • The campground generally opens in May and closes in November, weather permitting.

Group Camping:

  • There is a group campsite available for organized groups. Reservations for the group site can be made online.

Backcountry Camping:

  • Permits are required for all backcountry camping and can be obtained at the visitor center.
  • Campers must follow strict Leave No Trace principles to protect the delicate volcanic landscape.

Fees:

  • The camping fees vary depending on the site and services. Check the latest information on the official National Park Service website for current rates.
  • An entrance fee is required upon arrival to the park in addition to the camping fees.

Amenities:

  • The Lava Flow Campground offers limited amenities; it does not have hookups or showers. However, potable water and restrooms are available.

General Rules and Regulations

  • Fire: Open fires are only allowed in designated areas and are subject to seasonal restrictions.
  • Pets: Pets must be kept on a leash and are not allowed on most trails or in the backcountry.
  • Wildlife: Store food securely and maintain a safe distance from all wildlife.
  • Preservation: Do not collect rocks, plants, or other natural objects. It is illegal and damaging to the park's ecosystem.
  • Quiet Hours: Quiet hours are typically enforced from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

Activities

Beyond camping, Craters of the Moon offers numerous activities such as:

  • Hiking: Trails of varying difficulty provide up-close explorations of the volcanic formations.
  • Caving: A free caving permit is necessary to explore the caves. Protective gear must be worn.
  • Interpretive Programs: Ranger-led walks and talks are often available during the summer months.

Visitor Center

Before setting up camp or embarking on activities, it's advisable to stop at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center. Here you can:

  • Obtain camping permits and caving permits.
  • Get updated information on weather conditions, trail closures, and any current park alerts.
  • Explore the educational exhibits to learn more about the unique geology, ecology, and history of the area.

Safety Tips

  • Weather Conditions: Be prepared for variable weather, including high winds, intense sunlight, and rapid temperature changes.
  • Lava Terrain: Wear sturdy boots as the sharp and uneven lava terrain can be quite difficult to navigate.
  • Hydration: Carry plenty of water as the arid environment can lead to dehydration quickly.
  • Navigation: Use maps and compasses for backcountry adventures, as mobile devices may not have service.

Conclusion

Camping at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve offers a unique wilderness experience. Ensuring you have the latest information from the National Park Service and preparing properly for the conditions can lead to an unforgettable adventure among this stark and stunning volcanic landscape.

Map of Campgrounds in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Campgrounds in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
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