You gotta love huckster-slash-enthusiast Robert W. Limbert. Originally a taxidermist from Boise, Limbert saw great potential (and fame and fortune for himself) when he first explored desolate Craters of the Moon in Idaho. A daring outdoorsman, he camped and trekked many times across the lava during the 1920’s, photographing the landscape and personally naming many of the prominent features like Big Cinder and Echo Crater.
A rabid nut for ‘Craters, Limbert touted the area in his many sensational articles—some written for National Geographic—and went so far as to send a scrapbook about his exploration there to Calvin Coolidge. Impressed, the President signed a proclamation creating Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Despite Limbert’s reports, the barren park patently does not look like the surface of the moon, unless the moon is covered with sharp black lava, which I doubt. (I haven’t Airstreamed there yet.) Nothing grows except lichen and there’s nothing to do. Conditions are often miserable (the ranger informed me that it’s known as the windiest National Monument in the entire NPS system). ‘Craters is shadeless and hot. So what’s the attraction?
Give it a minute and you’ll see the austere and invigorating beauty. Walk the many serene trails and learn about boring geology. Take a leisurely drive through the landscape, hike up a peak, and overlook more lava. Breathe. For those without claustro- or chiroptophobia, there are bat caves.
Nobody sane is camping there, so you’ll likely have the whole place to yourself unless an enclave of geologists or teenagers on an Outward Bound survival exercise roll in.