Craters of the Moon National Monument is located in the cradle of Idaho's Snake River Plain. Beginning 15,000 years ago, molten basalt erupted from fissures in the earth's crust creating this landscape of black and raw lava flows that undulates like a quiet sea. Cinder cones, craters, and myriad volcanic formations line the fissures, or Great Rift, for some sixty miles from north to south, and rise above a surface swirling with frozen eddies and cascading blocks of lava foam.
With such a small presence on the land, human life would seem to warrant only a short story rather than the eight historic themes that make up this study. While Craters of the Moon has long been a place people avoided, it has a past worth telling. People have interacted with this strange yet beautiful volcanic landscape for several thousand years, according to the archaeological record, and for almost two hundred years, according to the historical record.
The following themes reflect the monument's history and should instill a deeper understanding of Craters of the Moon:
- Native Inhabitants
- Fur Trade
- Explorations and Surveys
- Overland Travel
- Settlement Patterns
- Recreation and Tourism
- NPS Management and Development
This study's purpose is to develop these themes in order to assist managers and interested readers in understanding the monument's history, and to aid in the management of cultural resources, planning, and interpretation. May you enjoy this overview of this region of our country!