Hi there!

 

So basically THE purpose in visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument is to see the aftermath of volcano activity!

And there is plenty of that to be seen without even trying by simply driving through Craters of the Moon. You can see “fields” of old lava flows (aka lava fields!) all around by doing the main scenic drive in the park!

And if you want to take your Idaho volcano experience even further… you can also walk through an Idaho cave that was formed by volcano activity!

At Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, you will find caves that are called lava tubes.

 

Craters of the Moon caves idaho. Craters of the moon lava tubes idaho. Cave hiking in Idaho. Cave hikes in Craters of the Moon National Monument. Where to see lava tubes in Idaho in the United States. idaho travel blog

 

These are basically caves that used to have lava flowing through them. And so, they are tubes of lava aka lava tubes!

They formed as a result of the underground lava flows.

What you will see now is a hallow “tube” (cave) where the lava flowed through.

 

According to the National Park Service:

The caves are actually lava tubes where hot streams of lava drained away and portions of ceilings collapsed.

The Craters of the Moon landscape is more than just surface volcanic features.

Below ground there is a dynamic underworld where fiery rivers in hardened, self-insulating tubes once flowed for miles without losing heat.

 

At Craters of the Moon, you can visit these Idaho lava tubes on your own. There is no Craters of the Moon tour necessary. (Or available, I think.)

You do need a Craters of the Moon cave permit, though! A little bit about this in a bit.

 

 

More below about cave hiking in Craters of the Moon!

 

 

🌋

 

 

 

3+ popular Idaho lava tube caves in Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon caves idaho. Craters of the moon lava tubes idaho. Cave hiking in Idaho. Cave hikes in Craters of the Moon National Monument. Where to see lava tubes in Idaho in the United States. idaho travel blog

 

In order of priority when you only have a limited time in Craters of the Moon!

How much time you spend in each of the Craters of the Moon caves will vary! But just to give you an idea, I listed the time I spent inside each of the caves. This time does not include the walking to get to each cave or the walk back.

 

1. Indian Tunnel

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon: inside indian tunnel lava tube. best craters of the moon caves. best things to do in craters of the moon. idaho travel blog

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon: inside indian tunnel lava tube. best craters of the moon caves. idaho travel blog
I spent around 30 minutes going through the Indian Tunnel.

 

 

 

2. Boy Scout Cave

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon: inside boy scout cave lava tube. best craters of the moon caves. best things to do in craters of the moon. idaho travel blog

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon: inside boy scout cave lava tube. best craters of the moon caves. idaho travel blog
I spent around 30 minutes inside Boy Scout Cave.

 

 

 

3. Beauty Cave

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon: inside beauty cave lava tube. best craters of the moon caves. best things to do in craters of the moon. idaho travel blog

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon: inside beauty cave lava tube. best craters of the moon caves. idaho travel blog
I spent around 15 minutes inside Beauty Cave.

 

 

 

4. Dewdrop Cave

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon: inside dewdrop cave lava tube. best craters of the moon caves. best things to do in craters of the moon. idaho travel blog
I spent around 10 minutes inside Dewdrop Cave.

 

 

 

Caves Trail to get to Craters of the Moon caves

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon. Hiking the Caves Trail lava fields to get to best craters of the moon caves. idaho travel blog

 

All of the above caves can be accessed directly along the Caves Trail.

This will be a walk where you will find the cave openings in the middle of a lava field in Idaho!

The Caves Trail itself is 1.6 miles round trip and is pretty flat. So if you want to go to all of the caves along the Caves Trail, then in addition to time inside each of the cave, you’ll add on the time it will take you to hike the 1.6 miles.

 

where to start cave hike in craters of the moon. idaho travel blog

map of cave hiking trail in craters of the moon. idaho travel blog

 

Even if you decide that you’d rather not go into a cave, the Caves Trail is worthy as an above-the-ground activity as you can take a walk with lava fields of old lava flows all around you.

 

Idaho cave hikes in Craters of the Moon. Hiking the Caves Trail lava fields to get to best craters of the moon caves. idaho travel blog

 

There are picnic tables at the Caves Trail parking lot!

 

Craters of the Moon caves picnic area. idaho travel blog

 

 

WATCH: Share the Craters of the Moon cave video with the people you’ll be traveling to Idaho with!

 

 

PLUS…

Buffalo Cave was closed

Craters of the Moon caves closed: buffalo cave closed. idaho travel blog

 

I went to Craters of the Moon in October 2021, and I’m not sure if the Buffalo Cave being closed was a seasonal thing, or a longer term thing. It was noted as being closed to provide complete darkness for the bats.

 

Craters of the Moon caves closed: buffalo cave closed. idaho travel blog

 

Even if the Buffalo Cave is closed and you can’t go inside the cave, it can still be worthy to hike to the Buffalo Cave. You will hike the Broken Top Trail and along the way you’ll see great views displaying the aftermath of volcanic activity!

 

 

Take care when cave hiking in Craters of the Moon!

Know that any cave in Craters of the Moon that you walk into is considered to be a wild cave!

This means that there are dangers associated with going into a Craters of the Moon cave.

That said, if you are reasonably physically active and as long as you are reasonably careful and watch your step, the caves open to hiking do not have any extreme risks.

But still, it’s nature, and things can happen unexpectedly. So, take care!

 

wild cave hike in craters of the moon. idaho travel blog
👆 Craters of the Moon caves are wild caves. Beware of the hazards. This includes unstable footing, falling rocks, low ceilings, and dark areas.

 

 

You need a cave permit to go into a Craters of the Moon cave

do you need a permit for craters of the moon caves in idaho. can you go to craters of the moon caves on your own. idaho travel blog

 

You are supposed to get a Craters of the Moon cave permit before going into any cave in Craters of the Moon.

As of 2021, the cave permits are free and they are easy to get.

It is just a matter of stopping by the visitor center to get one after answering a few questions. Or, you can get one when at the Craters of the Moon park entry booth.

The purpose in requiring a cave permit is basically to quickly educate you about bats… and so you can help save the bats from disease.

There is a disease that has killed millions of bats.

This disease is thought to be spread by humans who bring in the disease after visiting different caves.

Bats are considered to be an important part of the ecosystem so it is said to be important to care about their well-being… and to try to prevent the death of bats by the millions.

Currently, this disease is not known to exist in Craters of the Moon, and the Craters of the Moon national park rangers would like to keep it that way… and need your help!

So if you have been in any other cave in the past 15 years (yes really – I was asked about the past FIFTEEN YEARS by one park ranger!) then you are asked not to wear anything in a Craters of the Moon cave that you wore into another cave… and further it would be even better to not take anything into a Craters of the Moon cave that you took into another cave.

Likewise, after you have gone into a Craters of the Moon cave, you’re asked not to wear anything that you wore then into another cave anywhere in the world.

Take a full-body picture of yourself in front of a Craters of the Moon cave!

 

 

Cost to hike the Craters of the Moon caves

While there is no cost to specifically go cave hiking in Craters of the Moon, there is a cost for entry into Craters of the Moon National Monument.

The national park entry fee is $20 per car, and this gets you a 7-day Craters of the Moon national park pass. There is no one-day Craters of the Moon pass. See current fees.

 

Cost of cave hiking in craters of the moon national monument park. cost of craters of the moon caves. idaho travel blog
👆 Craters of the Moon national park entry fee in 2021.

 

If you have an annual national park pass, then your entry into Craters of the Moon National Monument is FREE since that pass will be accepted.

 

 

What to pack for Craters of the Moon caves

What to pack for craters of the moon caves. what to pack for cave hiking in craters of the moon national monument. idaho travel blog

 

The #1 thing you need to bring for a trip to the Craters of the Moon caves is a strong flashlight or headlamp.

Once you get away from the cave opening where there’s natural light, the cave is dark!

You will be walking into the darkness of the cave.

When going into any of the Craters of the Moon caves, you are the only one providing the lighting.

Don’t rely on your cell phone light, although that is nice to have as a backup in case the batteries go out on your flashlight!

The Indian Tunnel is listed as not needing your own lighting, but even for this cave it can be helpful.

While you’ll never be in true darkness in the Indian Tunnel, there are darker areas of the tunnel where a light can be nice to shine a light on your footing. There is uneven terrain through the cave tunnel. A light will be especially helpful if you’re going at a time when it’s cloudy out or when the sun isn’t as high (like late afternoon or evening) when it can seem darker in the cave tunnel.

But if you plan on walking through any of the other tunnels, you NEED to bring your own lighting!

It will be pitch black without it, and you won’t get very far!

Without a light, it is still possible to climb down into the cave and stay at the cave entrance only. That can be worth it too, without going further into the darkness. Although again, the light can be helpful to shine a light on the dark areas of your footing.

And so, if you plan on going into ANY part of a cave, put a flashlight or headlamp on your list of what to pack for Craters of the Moon!

The easiest place to find a headlamp when you’re on the road might be at Walmart. They will probably have them there. Look in the camping section! Buy a flashlight or headlamp with the higher “lumens”! This way you will have a brighter light.

For a truly bright headlamp, I liked having a Stealth Angel headlamp. It shined a light so much more around the cave to be able to see further ahead than a small Energizer headlamp that I also had. The Stealth Angel headlamp is a bit heavy on the head though.

It is best for everyone to have their own individual light source, and not rely on just one flashlight or headlamp for the whole group. This way everyone can be sure that they can see directly in front of them to know what kind of surface they are stepping on. (And to not trip over rocks or something.)

The #2 thing you really need to bring for a trip to Craters of the Moon is a good pair of shoes. You will want to be wearing good shoes for going into any of the caves in Craters of the Moon.

Long pants can be a good idea for added layers to protect your skin in case you slip and fall onto the rocky surface.

You might want to wear a long sleeve shirt or a light jacket since the cave can be on the cooler side compared to the daytime outside temperature if you’re going in summer or fall.

If you want to be extra careful, you can bring a hard hat or helmet too!

 

What to pack for craters of the moon caves. what to pack for cave hiking in craters of the moon national monument. idaho travel blog

 

And that’s a bit about where to see lava tubes in Idaho!

 

See more about each of the lava tubes in Craters of the Moon:

 

Plan more of your trip to Craters of the Moon: Best things to do in Craters of the Moon

 

Plan more of your trip to Idaho and Wyoming:

 

For more volcano exploration in the U.S. also see:

 

HAPPY CAVE HIKING IN IDAHO AT CRATERS OF THE MOON!

 

Craters of the Moon caves idaho. Craters of the moon lava tubes idaho. Cave hiking in Idaho. Cave hikes in Craters of the Moon National Monument. Where to see lava tubes in Idaho in the United States. idaho travel blog