Hike the Craters of the Moon's Lava Tubes
Idaho › Caves Trailhead
Added by Colin Ayers
Investigate three incredible caves and lava tubes. Some extend over 1000 feet under the ground.
Craters of the Moon National Monument in Southern Idaho is a vast ocean of lava flows, with scattered islands of cinder and splatter cones created by volcanic activity 15,000 years ago. Over 618 square miles, this surreal field displays the strange geography that can be caused by significant eruptive activity.
Most interesting is a series of caves created by lava tubes that guided molten magma up to the surface, where it bubbled and formed this amazing landscape. When the lava flow stopped, deep tubes were left behind, reaching to the source of the magma. Over the millennia, many of the tubes sealed up and collapsed, but some still remain, extending hundreds of feet below the surface of the park.
The three main caves (Indian Tunnel, Boy Scout Cave, and Beauty Cave) can be easily accessed by following Caves Trail, and are very close to the Cave Area parking lot.
Indian Tunnel is the largest of the caves, with multiple collapses that create skylights. Boy Scout Cave is especially interesting as it has a 2 foot crawl space that extends 15 feet, forcing you to scramble underneath to get out the other side. Beauty Cave is a 300-foot long tunnel, accessible via a scramble down a large slope of rocks.
Safety Note: Watch your step and your head – the caves are cold and dark, and it is very easy to slip on the pools and columns of ice. There are also many precarious, large icicles hanging from the ceiling.
- Cave Permit
- Warm jacket
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
Worth The Drive
Great easy hikes. Very interesting and beautiful in its own way. Don't just drive through. Take the time to get out at each of the stops and explore. Make sure to visit the caves. There is one that is very family friendly. It is amazing to be in the caves! Make sure to go into the visitors center first. Bring flashlights or headlights for the caves. The caves are colder so bring a jacket. Try to go late Spring or early Summer before it gets too hot. You can camp at the campsite at the lava beds but there isn't really any shade. Another option is to camp at the KOA in Arco.
More Adventures Nearby
Hike the Inferno Cone
Idaho / Inferno Cone Trailhead
To reach the parking lot at the Inferno Cone Trailhead enter the Craters of the Moon National Monument at the main entrance on the north side of the park off US Highway 26 and go approximately 1.
Bike the Loop Road at Craters of the Moon National Monument
Idaho / Craters of the Moon Visitor Center Parking
Biking Crater of the Moon National Monument's seven mile loop road provides an intimate experience through a wild landscape. Park at the Visitor's Center.