Craters of the Moon National Monument
North Crater Trail

Blasted beauty

Crates of the Moon is a remote, quiet, and eerily beautiful place to visit.

The North Crater Trail gives a more tactile sense of the features that make up this odd landscape. There are climbs and descents, long views of craters and bluffs from sinuous ridge lines, and closeups of lava flows and cinder cones.
This is an easy trail to find in a strange and wonderful landscape. For all of that there is a sense of solitude and silence that is perfect for this place.

From the junction of US-20 and I-15 in Idaho Falls Idaho, head west on US-20 66.4 miles to Arco, where US-20 joins US-93 and heads south.
Continue southward on US-20/US-93 19 miles to the entrance to Craters of the Moon National Monument. There is a visitor center near the entrance where you will need to pay a fee to enter.
After leaving the visitors center, drive 0.8 miles along the park road to the parking lot for the North Crater.
Coordinates for the hike: 43.4563500,-113.5595400
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The parking lot is paved and level and has room for a moderate number of vehicles. There are no facilities at the parking lot.
Trail observations
The trail leaves directly from the parking lot. The trail is mostly over cinders with a short amount of paving at the far end.
The trail is an out and back with a fair amount of climbing and descending throughout the hike. The hike could be a one way if you can arrange for a ride at the Spatter Cones parking lot.
There is no shade, and the terrain is extremely dry. Despite this being a relatively short hike, you should bring a lot of water.
Trail statistics
The trail is 3.86 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 321 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.00 miParkingParking lot
0.02 miTrailheadTrailhead
0.31 miKeep rightBranch - take side trail to overlook
0.37 miRejoinRejoin the trail and keep ascending
0.44 miCraterTrail crosses a crater
0.62 miLava flowDescending to cross a lava flow
0.93 miBreakA convenient place to hang gear and take a break
1.35 miKeep rightVolunteer side trail - keep right to stay on the main trail
1.75 miPaved pathPaved path to the spatter cones
1.89 miTurnaroundTurnaround point
3.86 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - North Crater Trail
Altitude chart - North Crater Trail Parking Keep right Keep right Paved path Turnaround End of trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Feature: Crater
Terrain: Hilly
Trail surface: Cinder
Trail surface: Dirt
Type: Out-and-back
View: Open
View: Overlooks
County: Custer
State: Idaho
Country: United States of America
Comprehensive Wikipedia article
National Park Service site
Printable trail map in PDF format (22 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (3 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
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