Craters of the Moon & The Rule of the Thirds

This is an alien landscape. It’s nothing like I know earth to be. Fields of rocky lava flows stretch as far as the eye can see. No wonder NASA brought astronauts here before sending them to the moon. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho is wonderfully weird indeed.

Craters of the Moon Lava Fields
Craters of the Moon Lava Fields

An uncrowded national monument and preserve, Craters of the Moon was our favorite surprises on our recent American road trip.  We didn’t really know what to expect. The photos we could find online were a mix that represented extremes. Tourist snaps of nothing more than mounds of black rocks to the most astonishing stellar time-lapse.

After having spent a few days in Yellowstone, finding a place to explore that was so wondrous, unique and frankly empty was a treat. As a beginning photographer it felt like a gift from the National Park Services team. Here you go kid, some really cool landscapes, take your time. Practice!

Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon was where Bello taught me my fifth lesson in photography. The rule of the thirds. This link will explain the rule of the thirds in detail. The gist of it though, is to resist the urge to focus your subject directly in the center of your photo.

Having uninterrupted time to explore, meant we could get into the details and practice the rule of the thirds. A treat to with subjects that don’t move an inch!

Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon

I had more time to notice the cracks, the colors and textures.

Rocky Lava Forms
Rocky Lava Forms

Capture that subtle cobalt blue glistening in the fading sun.

Lava Flows Frozen in Time
Lava Flows Frozen in Time

It’s true, you can walk inside a volcano at Craters of the Moon. No ones here to stop you, just fences to ensure you and the rims are both kept safe. Since the volcanos were “fissure eruptions” instead of gas built up explosions, they are smaller than one might expect though.

Volcano at Craters of the Moon
Volcano at Craters of the Moon

To me, it wasn’t the volcanos that were the attraction, rather the spirit of the trees. Defiant, twisted and somehow beautiful.

This one, the “Triple Twist Tree” was alive in 1950. They don’t know for sure when it was trapped in the lava flows or when it died. Fascinating right!

Spirit of the Trees
Spirit of the Trees

Perhaps my favorite part of this 618 square miles national monument and preserve, is the Devil’s Orchard Nature Trail. Where more trees stand crooked, leaning against the harsh, dry climate.

Devil's Orchard Nature Trail
Devil’s Orchard Nature Trail

I’ll talk more about finally seeing Idaho in the coming days. Craters of the Moon wasn’t the only surprise. In fact, I now call Idaho Idawow. If you’re planning your own cross country road trip itinerary, consider Craters of the Moon as a stop.

Unlike many of the National Parks, you won’t feel like you’ve cheated yourself if you only have one day to visit. Plus, it’s about an hour and a half drive from Bellevue, Idaho with plenty of places to sleep and eat.

Random side note, if you find yourself in that neck of the woods, try Mahoneys Bar & Grill for dinner. Good food and beer on tap after a long drive, can’t beat it!

Craters of the Moon will hold interest for kids who want to be astronauts just as well as it did for this adult who wants to learn photography. It’s uncrowded, cool and weird all at the same time.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, yes the Craters of the Moon address is strangely tricky to find online. It’s located off U.S. Highway 20/26/93 mid-way between Arco and Carey, Idaho. Yep, clear as mud right. I say just Google Map it!

Curious and want to know more? This videos for you!

Cross Country Road Trip Tales: Our List of Stops,  Storm Lovers Love IowaBadlands South DakotaCruising Custer State Park, Wyoming Tourists Don’t Come to SeeHow We Afford Life on the Road,  How Many of America’s Top 10 National Parks Have you Seen?

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