Sunday, May 4, 2014

Craters of the Moon and Arco

The weather improved so we left Twin Falls and continued north on Route 93.  Our plan was to spend a couple of nights in Arco, ID to explore Craters of the Moons.  As often happens we discovered a couple of unexpected, unique things in little Arco.
Most of the very light traffic that we passed on this drive was triple trailers loaded with hay.  In the couple days we were in Arco hundreds passed by.  There were many irrigated fields with huge watering systems.  Most had at least six units but some had as many as 14 units enabling them to cover a circle about 1500 feet across.  I've often seen these big circle while flying cross country and it was neat getting an up close look. There were also many bales stacked up waiting to be transported.  
When you travel in the Mountain West it seems that every town or school has there initial high on the side of the mountain.  Here is a link to a post when we were in Bozeman in 2008 and we hiked up to the M that I helped whitewash many years ago as a freshman.  In Arco the letter on the hill has been taken to a whole new level.  Starting in 1920 each senior class has put the the year of their graduation up there creating the hill with the numbers.  If you click to enlarge the picture you can seen the rather small 20 under the big 50.  
Also in Arco is the sail off of the USS Hawkbill submarine 666, that is sometimes called the Devil's ship.  The sub is part of the Idaho Science Center, pictured bottom right, that has a collection of exhibits about the many experimental nuclear reactor projects that were developed at the nearby Idaho National Laboratory.  Many nuclear submariners where trained there.  We got lucky and the gentleman in the picture was just opening the door so we had a personal tour.  You never know what you will find along the road.
This continues to be the year of snow capped mountains.  In looking at our travel plans it looks like we will be seeing snow capped peaks until we hit the plains in Canada on our way back from Alaska in August.
We wanted to add the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve stamp to our park service book and found another unique American landscape that our government had the foresight to save.  The preserve is several thousand acres of ancient volcanic cones and lava flows.  Here you can see both the pahoehoe, smooth flow in the foreground and rubble-like crusty 'a'a flow in the back.
We drove the loop road and did several hikes across the barren landscape.  We hiked across this old flow.  The last eruptions here were more than 2,500 years ago. 
This old uprooted tree makes a great picture frame.
While we saw very few animals we saw a couple of signs of birds that had been eaten and only the feathers were left.  We also went into one small cave that was an old lava tube.  You need a flashlight to go deeper into the caves.
More snow capped mountains and and old cinder cone.
As someone who grew up in Western Pennsylvania near mining slate and cinder piles it always amazes me that they can be so colorful.  I never looked at them that way.
Black and Blue.  Nanc, blue sky and the black cinders on Inferno Cone.
A distant volcanic mountain from the top of Inferno Cone.  The ancient hot spot that created these volcanoes is the same one that is now under Yellowstone National Park creating all the geysers and hot springs.  It has slowly moved over millions of years from Washington across Idaho and now under Wyoming.
Another huge flow.  The cone on the left is older and has some vegetation growing on it.  Some of the early astronauts learned volcanic geology here, but found that the moons craters are the result of impact meteors not volcanoes.
Three spatter cones that are small volcanoes that formed as the big volcanoes were dying.  You can actually see all the old cones lined up where the hot spot slowly moved.
There was snow in the bottom of this splatter cone.  Some of the flowers that are staring to grow and a couple of feather light rocks.  Craters of the Moon is a little off the beaten path, but is well worth a visit.  How bazaar, how bazaar.

1 comment:

Ray/Wendy said...

Nice pics of some not so known places. Looks like the weather has gotten better.