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The National Park Service celebrates 100 years of 'weird and scenic' Craters of the Moon

A path up a spatter cone at Craters of the Moon National Monument
Jacob W Frank
National Park Service
Spatter cones are created from hot lumps of lava thrown into the air.

The lava fields and caves of Craters of the Moon in south-central Idaho formed from volcanic activity beginning 15,000 years ago.

This May marks 100 years since it became a national monument. In his 1924 proclamation, President Calvin Coolidge refers to Craters as a “weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself.”

“It's kind of a strange and mysterious place that really feels a lot like another world," said Jennifer Jones with the National Park Service.

Flowers emerge from lava flows at Craters of the Moon
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
Wildflowers emerge from lava flows at Craters of the Moon National Monument

The unusual lava landscape is the result of a series of volcanic eruptions. The central feature is the Great Rift, a 52-mile-long crack in the Earth’s crust that starts near the visitor center.

Jones is planning events for the centennial celebration from May through September. She said talks and exhibits will cover the area's history as Shoshone-Bannock homelands and its role in preparing NASA astronauts for trips to the moon, and in 2016, for Mars.

NASA astronauts walk at Craters of the Moon in 1969
Craters of the Moon National Monument
NASA astronauts and geologists visit Craters of the Moon in 1969 before heading to the actual moon.


Check this page for events that will be added and updated throughout the year.

  • May: Theme- Cultural History
    • May 25th- Artist in Residence Event with April Felker
    • May 31st- Star Party
  • June: Theme- Wilderness
    • June 1st- Star Party
    • June 21st- Full Moon Hike
  • July: Theme- Research
    • July 5th- Star Party
    • July 6th- Star Party
    • July 19th- Full Moon Hike
    • July 20th- Full Moon Hike
    • July 21st- Full Moon Hike
  • August: Theme- Geology
    • August 2nd- Star Party
    • August 3rd- Star Party
    • August 18th- Full Moon Hike
    • August 19th- Full Moon Hike
  • September: Theme- Night Sky
    • September 6th- Star Party
    • September 7th- Star Party
    • September 15th- Full Moon Hike
    • September 28th- National Public Lands Day 

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.

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