Please consider that these lava flows and features are thousands of years old and easily damaged by off-trail travel. In addition, park regulations prohibit off-trail travel around the North Crater Flow and Spatter Cones/Big Craters areas (see maps on trailhead signs to identify specific closure areas).
You are also quite fragile and easily damaged by sharp and abrasive lava rock! Taking a fall will almost certainly result in cuts and scrapes. When hiking on trails we encourage you to slow down and use caution. Sturdy shoes (no sandals) and long pants are highly recommended. Thank you for helping to protect your Monument and yourself!
Pets are welcome in the campground, parking lots, and on paved roads but not in the visitor center or on hiking trails (with the exception of service animals). Never leave your pet alone in your vehicle. Parking areas do not have shade and air temperatures often exceed 85°F in the summer. During the winter, pets are not permitted on the Loop Road. For the protection of your pet and park wildlife, pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
Weather and Safe Travel Tips
Extreme cold in the winter and extreme heat in the summer are the rule at Craters of the Moon. Snow is common in winter and lightning can be a danger on the exposed lava fields in spring and summer. Strong winds can and do blow at any time of year. Come prepared for whichever season you choose to visit.
During the summer the black lava captures and radiates the heat of the intense summer sun. An afternoon without steady wind is a rarity. Be prepared! Wear sun screen and a hat and carry plenty of water. Fill your water bottles before leaving the visitor center, as there is no running water along the Loop Drive, nor is there surface water in the wilderness. For wilderness travel, carry at least one gallon of water per person per day. The lava surface is uneven and abrasive, so wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes. Cuts and abrasions from falling on the lava are the most common injuries in the park.
In addition to the above mentioned items, it is highly recommended that all hikers carry a map, a GPS or compass and a cell phone. Although there is limited cell phone coverage in this remote area, hikers may be able to pick up a signal on top of one of the cinder cones in the event of an emergency.
The lava tube caves are undeveloped and contain many hazards. There is no artificial lighting, nor are there any paved trails. The floors are uneven and possibly icy; ceilings may be low with sharp stalactites. Remember to obtain your free cave permit to help protect bats. A free permit from the visitor center is required before entering any lava tube caves or tunnels in the park. When exploring caves, sturdy closed-toed shoes and a flashlight are a must. Clothing, equipment, cameras, phones, or other items that have been worn or used in another cave or mine cannot be brought into the caves at Craters of the Moon. Visit our Caving at Craters of the Moon page for more details.
Backcountry roads on the BLM portion of the monument are unpaved and can present challenging driving conditions any time of year. Only venture on these roads with a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle, a fire extinguisher, and a good map. A map of the area can be downloaded from the BLM's website.