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16 Best Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations

Last updated on May 7th, 2022 at 11:00 pm

COM National Monument - Craters of the Moon

Craters Of the Moon remains one of the most eye catching moment in America. The amazing features associated with the monument attracts hodophile not only from America but also from other parts of the world including Europe and Asia. The historical preserved site, provides a wonderful insight for both adults as well as children. The monument consists of numerous fascinating recreational activities including hiking, enjoying night activities through camp sites, the cave experience among many others.

Taking a ride along the 7 mile scenic loop road can assist you to: enjoy inferno cone overlook, access devil orchard nature trail, and, taking a short walk through spatter cones. The night camps at the back pack wilderness offers memorable adventures. Further those interested on the effects of volcano eruption gets the rare opportunity to view first hand repercussions.

The management Craters Of the Moon offers the intended support and advice at the Robert Limbert center in order for visitors to get the best. Physical appearance at Craters Of the Moon install memorable effects of volcanoes eruptions on the environment. The support facilities including hotels and accommodation around the park ensures smooth, enjoyable as well as decent adventure.

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The History of Crater of the Moon National Monument

The history of the Craters Of the Moon dates back between 15000 and 2000 years ago during the period of eight major eruptive of the great rift. The lava that erupted from the great rift spread across 618 square miles. Many observers would mistake the lava with mountains until a renowned scientist Galileo Galilei discovered the circular features in 1906 after directing telescope at the site. The identity of the moon is a creation of local legends in which they made references to the landscapes of the lavas as resembling the moon surface. Some even referred it as the valley of the moon.

However, Robert Limbert’s article a national magazine in which he referred the volcanoes as the carters of the moon provided the current name. On May 2 1924, the crater was recognized as a national monument by the then US president Calvin Coolidge. After signing the decree the national park service took over the management of the site. In order to enhance visitor experience, and preserve its resources, the park agency embarked on developing the monument of its dual mission for the enjoyment of future generation. For almost forty years the park service concentrated on gaining public support for its mission of tourist attraction. The service developed roads and welcomed auto mobiles, hotels, and developed camp grounds.

With time, more Americans enjoyed the natural treasures in which visitation soared. For the purposes of preserving the beauty of the natural environment and introduce manmade structures at the same time, the management introduced national park service rustic landscape design. The rustic philosophy aimed at harmonizing functional architecture with other man made features to the natural environment in a non- intrusive pleasing gesture. Until 1940s the rustic philosophy was carried religiously.

Due to the effects of World War II, the rustic philosophy was altered to cope with the devastating effects of the war period. Like other parks in America, the park serviced introduced mission 66 program for Craters Of the Moon. The program embarked on a mission of upgrading all park areas. Among program innovation included, a visitor center, concession services and auditoriums, administrative offices and a structure incorporating interpretive services. The mission 66 redesigned the monument to the current form.

1. Sagebrush Site - Creaters of the Moon

16 Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations

KEEP IN MIND that the mileage below is to the Geographic center of the monument and the actual distances to enter the park are all within 10 miles.

There are numerous paid campgrounds within the Craters Of the Moon but those can be quite expensive and we choose to boondock in the are free so we can visit a number of sites all from the same camping area. There is back country camping all around including:

Wilderness and Backcountry Camping

Camping is also permitted in the Craters Of the Moon Wilderness and the NPS Preserve and BLM Monument for those who are properly outfitted. Those interested must obtain a free backcountry permit from the visitor center.

If you plan on staying in Idaho to see more of the state there is a $10 pass for Idaho residents that will waive all entrance fees to Idaho parks.

For out of state visitors they offer the following:

Our out-of-state guests have savings options too! You can purchase a $80 Motor Vehicle Entry Fee (MVEF) Annual sticker, which waives the daily motor vehicle entrance fee – a savings of $7 per day ($14 a day at premium parks). MVEF Annual stickers can be purchased at any Idaho State Park and online. LEARN MORE HERE

Last dont forget the America the Beautiful Pass for all National Parks and Campgrounds as well as National Monuments like the Craters Of the Moon. The cost is $80 a year and $80 for a lifetime pass for seniors. There are also other discounts such as military. PURCHASE YOURS AT THE BANNER BELOW

We have chosen 16 camping areas we have used in the above listed areas.

1. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Idaho / Moore Craters Of the Moon Sagebrush Site

Moore, Idaho
GPS: 43.42227, -113.63264
Elevation: 5791′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and .9 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Located the road mid-afternoon and not too far up was a small clearing with old fire pit. Additional recon in jeep didn’t locate additional nearby clearing of interest. Although we could see Hwy 20 traffic we were far enough away to hear only the birds! We were tall enough to barely be seen from highway This area did get some good gusty wind In the afternoon and evening. Definitely a nice, quiet overnight sleeping spot for visiting Craters Of the Moon National Park. No cell signal until closer to park off the highway.

2. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – BLM Fish Creek Reservoir

43.429741, -113.821810
Carey, Idaho
GPS: 43.429385, -113.821524
Elevation: 5340′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 8.7 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at BLM Fish Creek Reservoir. Quiet, remote campsite on the edge of a mostly dried-up reservoir near Craters Of the Moon Nat’l Monument. One BBQ grill, one table and one vault toilet with plenty of flat space for many tents/RVs. 8.7-mile good gravel road from the Fish Creek turnoff on Hwy 93, no 4WD or high clearance needed.

3. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Honeys’ Park

2436 N 3000 W
Butte City, Idaho
GPS: 43.628648, -113.296123
Elevation: 5315′

Management Private – Privately Owned Campground (Official)

There are 30 or more campsites at this location. A spare camper for guest use with heated shower and laundry facilities on board. I’m still a free dry campground but except for water and my budget I’ve got it a fair campground lately. I have wifi for public use and am up to 600 guests this year some hanging out for weeks.

4. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Big Lost River Rest Area

Arco, Idaho
GPS: 43.54831, -113.00885
Elevation: 4984′

Management Public – Rest Area

The road in is Paved. Big Lost River Rest Area is open year round. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 16 hours at Big Lost River Rest Area. Overnight Rest area off highway 26, Idaho allows you to stay for 16 hours. I had trouble finding other free camping spots nearby after night had fallen and this saved me. Large lot, fully equipped rest area. Next to highway but not too loud since it isn’t used a lot. Great sunrise.

5. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Silver Creek South

472 Cutoff Road
Carey, Idaho
GPS: 43.245956, -113.995974
Elevation: 4695′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management

Silver Creek South is open Apr-Nov. This campsite is very large, large enough for quite a few rigs but we had our privacy here. Instead of driving straight into this campsite, if you turn left just before it you’ll see a picnic area on the right. You can camp here, there are tent pads, covered picnic tables, and pit toilets. There is even a food prep area at both picnic tables. If you continue down the road some more you’ll find a small spot on the right that you can fit at least a 35′ rig into.

6. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Silver Creek North

472 Cutoff Road
Carey, Idaho
GPS: 43.250562, -113.996453
Elevation: 4715′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

Silver Creek North is open Apr-Nov. This was a fantastic campsite. When we arrived in the afternoon, there was a couple fishing, but they soon left and we had the area to ourselves. This felt fairly remote and we didn’t see another car the whole evening or morning, but we weren’t actually that far from a main road which was nice. There was a great gravel tent pad, a clean pit toilet, and a picnic table.

7. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Silver Creek East

Picabo, Idaho
GPS: 43.3307, -114.09095
Elevation: 5207′

Management – Public – Fish and Wildlife Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. Lovely, right on the creek. Apparently a popular fishing spot, although there was no one there on a Wednesday morning. Extremely bad washboard road. Drove in in my Class C doing 5 to 8 miles per hour, but it was worth it. No dumpster, but there is a vault toilet. The Verizon 4G is too spotty to even be usable, even with a Weboost. There is 4G half a mile down the road.

8. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Silver Creek West Access Campground

US Hwy 20
Picabo, Idaho
GPS: 43.318844, -114.111123
Elevation: 4847′

Management – Public – Fish and Wildlife Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 0.5mi miles from a paved road. Silver Creek West Access Campground is open year-round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 10 days in 30 at Silver Creek West Access Campground. GPS takes you only to the turnoff. You have to drive about 1 to 2 miles on the gravel road and follow the public access sign. We were here a few years ago and loved it. Still quiet and peaceful and plenty of room to bring our 35’ Class A pulling our Jeep. We get 3 bars or LTE on ATT.

9. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Hayspur Hatchery

Carey, Idaho
GPS: 43.336636, -114.146408
Elevation: 4877′

Management – Public – Fish and Wildlife Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. Hayspur Hatchery is open seasonally. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is all size. You may stay 16 days at Hayspur Hatchery. The campground is a field with some large shade trees and great views of the surrounding mountains. From Carey, drive west on US 20 about 13 miles. Look for the Hayspur hatchery sign.

10. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – McTucker Ponds

Pingree, ID
Springfield, Idaho
GPS: 43.038633, -112.653832
Elevation: 4360′

Management – Public – Fish and Wildlife Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 1.5 miles from a paved road. McTucker Ponds is open All year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. From State Highway 39 that runs between American Falls and Blackfoot, turn south at mile marker 34.8 onto 1700 West (Steiklein Road) and go 2.7 miles to a “T” in road. Turn right and go 1 mile on 1075 South (River Road) to “T” in road and turn left into the McTucker Ponds complex.

11. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Snake River Vista Access

Unnamed Road
American Falls, Idaho
GPS: 42.742171, -112.920903
Elevation: 4259′

Management – Public – State Park

This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted.

12. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Lake Creek

Forest Road 4331
Mackay, Idaho
GPS: 43.765236, -113.896989
Elevation: 8051′

Public – Forest Service

Lake Creek is open Jun-Oct. This area has four camping units in an open sage brush area adjacent to Lake Creek with one vault toilet. Hitching rails and loading ramp are available. Drinking water is available during the summer months. Nearby attractions are the Lake Creek ATV trail, Green Lake Trail, and Muldoon Canyon.

13. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Pipeline Campground

Pipeline Road
American Falls, Idaho
GPS: 42.74082, -112.89997
Elevation: 4285′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

There are 6-15 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 in 28 days at Pipeline Campground. 8 primitive campsites with some picnic tables, fire rings, vaulted toilet, horse shoe pits, and a parking lot. There are also boat ramps/boat docks available for accessing the Snake River below American Falls Reservoir Dam at the site.

14. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Eagle Rock Access

3374-3400 Neeley Road
American Falls, Idaho
GPS: 42.708459, -112.937603
Elevation: 4327′

Management – Public – State Park

Wonderful dispersed camping with the snake river near by. Did not stay the night but chilled in a “campsite” along the dirt road. After turning off eagle rock road it turns to a dirt road that is not maintained and full of ruts, small passenger vehicles not recommended.

15. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Broad Canyon

Unnamed Road
Mackay, Idaho
GPS: 43.76838, -113.943111
Elevation: 7815′

Public – Forest Service

Broad Canyon is open Jul-Sep. This site has eight camp units in a beautiful wooded setting. There is one accessible vault toilet and several hitching rails. No drinking water is available. Nearby attractions include Broad Canyon Trail, Jarvis Trail, and Bellas Trail.

16. Craters Of the Moon Boondocking Locations – Tourist Park MacKay Idaho

Mackay, Idaho
GPS: 43.91091, -113.613523
Elevation: 5896′

Management Public – City Park built by RV grant (Official)

The road in is Paved. Tourist Park MacKay Idaho is open unknown but they have terrible winters here. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay three days two nights at Tourist Park MacKay Idaho.

This is a free campsite with a limit of two nights. The sign says that you can reserve if you wish to stay longer than two nights. It is very busy on the weekends. There is also another site in town where you can park for a maximum of 16 hours. the 16 hour parking spot is right near the post office.

Trails to Hike at the Craters Of the Moon

Hiking is among the most performed activities among the visitors of the Craters Of the Moon. The top 8 trails we experienced include:

1. North Crater Trail

1. North Crater Trail - Craters Of the Moon

Rated as moderate the trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips as well as walking. It is best for use from the month of May until September. The 3.5 mile long trail, consists of two start points, form the north you ascend a little up whereby get a good view of park entrance, and campground area. While dropping down on the other side you cross several lava flows.

The trail is well kept. We enjoyed the unique scenery and the ups and downs were a great workout. It was short but we were able to do multiple hikes that day to make up for it. I’d heard it gets quite hot during the summer so we waited and went near the end of September and it was perfect weather. Bit windy but not too hot.

Length: 3.5 mi
Elevation gain: 666 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Cave, Views, Rocky, Fee

2. Cave Trail

2. Cave Trail - Craters Of the Moon

The 1.8 mile moderately trafficked trail is categorized as easy. Hence available for people of all skills. Cave trail primarily fits hiking activities however a free permit is required at the entrance. It consists a collapsed cavern and three lava caves visited through the Indian tunnel with a total stretch of 800 feet. The first cave is smaller as compared to the other two.
Inferno cone view point- Though one of the most challenging hiking point at the Craters Of the Moon, the trail rewards hikers with clear views of the snake river plain, the great rift and the pioneer mountains. Though a short trail at 0.6km, the hikers find it difficult to get to the top due to lose ground as well as steep slope.

This trail is so cool! Bring a headlight and maybe a light jacket. Beauty cave was instantly very cold as soon as you entered it. I liked having other people in there with me to explore the cave cause it’s pretty dark and eerie in the back of it. I also really liked the Indian tunnel. When you go down the stairs at the entrance, take a left and you can walk through the whole tunnel, which was so darn sweet. It’s takes about 10 minutes to get through, just climbing over huge boulder fields and caves. Great picture opportunities in there.

Length: 1.8 mi
Elevation gain: 75 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Cave, Partially paved, Views, No shade, Fee

3. Broken Top Loop Trail

3. Broken Top Trail

The 1.8 mile =trail offers a favorable opportunity to visitors for hiking. The 100 feet tall sparsely vegetated clone features different arts including lava bombs, pressure ridges, lava tubes, cinders and pahoehoe.

Great loop that was the highlight of Craters Of the Moon Preserve. You get to see the entire Preserve from this trail with various stops and overlooks. Well maintained trail with only a few rocky areas. Minimal shade.

Length: 1.8 mi
Elevation gain: 167 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Cave, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, Fee, No dogs

4. Devils Orchard Trail

4. Devils Orchard Trail
The 0.5 mile trail exhibits the environmental challenges faced by the Craters Of the Moon monument. Useful for walking and adventure, devil’s orchard explores vegetated areas and lava out crops where limber pines and bushes have established.

Short, easy trail. It’s completely paved, so it made for a nice walk. There was maybe 3 other people there when I got there at 8am. This hikes gives you good views of oddly-shaped trees and rock formations. The entire landscape is so bizarre looking – I like it

Length: 0.5 mi
Elevation gain: 3 ft
Route type: Loop

Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Nature trips, Walking, Running, Paved, Views, Wildlife, Fee

5. Tree Mold Trail

5. Tree Mold Trail

The 2.1 mile length trail features at least 8 tree Molds formed after the trees folded by the lava decayed. It features a fairly vegetated site and reached through level trail which goes through ashen plains. The trail provides visitors with a good opportunity for walking, adventure, and easy hiking for all skills.

Pretty hike, we saw a few birds and squirrels. Make sure you bring plenty of water, there is almost no shade and plenty of uphill that make you want a water break. If you are going for the tree molds however, you will be disappointed, they are holes in the ground that are very hard to distinguish.

Length: 2.1 mi
Elevation gain: 164 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Wildflowers, Fee, No dogs

6. Spatter Cones Trail

6. Spatter Cones Trail

The Spatter cones trail consists of blocky lava, walls of rough and tiny craters around a central vent. Formed during the dwindling times of the lava, spatter trails scatters in isolation. The spatter cones offers an opportunity for walking and adventure.

Really cool area unlike everything else around it. I never would’ve guessed there was somewhere like this in Idaho.

Length: 1.3 mi
Elevation gain: 173 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Partially paved, Views, Rocky, No shade, Fee

7. North Crater Flow Trail – Bummer, this trail is closed. We’ll update this page if and when it reopens. Trail is CLOSED as they are currently repairing the boardwalk.

7. North Crater Flow Trail - Craters Of the Moon

The 2,200 years old is the most popular as well as the shortest trail at Craters Of the Moon. The trail starts close to the termination of scenic drive, near the campground. North crater flow trail twists through an area of smooth lava passing various small features including squeeze-ups, blocks and ridges and one larger lava pile. The trail suits hiking, adventure, and, walking for people with all skills.

Length: 0.3 mi
Elevation gain: 13 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Partially paved, Views, Closed, No shade, Fee

8. Craters Of the Moon Wilderness Trail

8. Craters of the Moon Wilderness Trail - Craters Of the Moon

The 17.1 km trail provides good opportunities for the visitors to hike, walk and adventure. Although easy to travel, the route is wide covering mix of ash and lava flows. The west side of echo crater is suitable for day hike. The wilderness trail a long area of the Craters Of the Moon. The area is open for exploration but a backcountry permitted must be obtained for access.

We combine this with the broken top loop trail to make a 11.8 mi hike. We thoroughly enjoyed it and had a great lunch just beyond the end of the trail at the saddle between sentinel Butte and another Butte. We slept well.

Length: 10.6 mi
Elevation gain: 505 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Running, Views, Wildlife, No shade, Fee

Places and Things to Do and See in Craters Of the Moon

Robert Limbert visitor center – On arrival at Craters Of the Moon, it is wise to always get to the Robert Limbert visit center. It is as this place you get to inquire on various site visits. Get your navigation equipment such as maps and directions from the center. Also relax and ponder the day activities. Some of the seasons may prove difficult to navigate to several sites without rangers due to weather conditions.

At the center the history and book concerning the monument offers an insight of the great monument. Wander through the exhibits, choose the bearing and if there is need to lunar ranger packets just ask for help. Some of the areas such as cave and the wilderness requires a permit. It is at the center where we got all requirements. Why struggle to enjoy a holiday? You should get it smooth. Shouldn’t you?

Hiking- The Craters Of the Moon landscape, contains variety of hiking options. The hiking options depends on the terrain of the cliff and hence, you can choose how challenging you would like to attempt. The park staff may assist in case of difficulties. You have a chance to experience hiking in popular trails such as the devil’s Orchard trail, inferno cone trail, north crater trail among many others.

Loop road and drive through scenic spots around crater of the moon national monument- The drive on the 7 mile scenic loop helps in accessing and viewing some of the amazing sites around Craters Of the Moon. The scenic drive in itself presents a one way fabulous experience. The scenic loop provides an easy leeway to inferno cone, and, the spatter cones. With luxury of time to walk, within the same range, it is easy to access the devils orchard trail.

Caving in the lava tubes-There are three amazing caves and a lave tube to explore in the Craters Of the Moon. You just climb down the stairs into the Indian tunnel in which you scramble over the rocks within 800 feet to complete the cave tubing. While going through the caves, you notice on the onset a narrow space of which by the channels continues to expand making it easy and enjoyable to penetrate.

Craters Of the Moon back pack wilderness – Getting a chance to visit the unique Craters Of the Moon wilderness requires backcountry permit. This is one of the most unique places at the Craters Of the Moon monument, in which less than 100 visitors are allowed in one year. A chance to experience the vast wilderness calls for a night sleep over. Once permitted to the wilderness trail make sure a maximum utilization of the facility through a camp site. Always adhere to the camp site rules for an enjoyable stay. We got an amazing dry moon night at the camp.

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