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Craters of the Moon Celebrates Centennial with Walks, Night Sky Parties and Photo Demonstrations
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A lava tube at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve offers a window to discovery.
   
Friday, May 3, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

A violent past, calm present and uncertain future…

That’s how those at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve describe this ocean of lava flows that sported fiery lava flows 2,000 years ago. It is currently a weird and scenic landscape where outdoor enthusiasts can hike among cinder cones and unique wildflowers, but visitors should be wary that the area could explode again any time!

Craters of the Moon, 24 miles northeast of Carey, is celebrating its Centennial this year with a variety of events, including full moon hikes, geology walks and photography demonstrations.

Of course, the “Valley of the Moon,” as it’s often called is much older than a hundred years old, its volcanic activity believed to date back 15,000 years. But it was a hundred years ago that taxidermist and explorer Robert Limbert succeeded into getting President Calvin Coolidge to preserve 54,000 acres of the land for generations to come.

The area drew more than 285,000 visitors in 2017. For their effort, they were rewarded with a look at the Great Rift with its 60 lava flows, 25 splatter cones and more than 750 types of plants—a pretty amazing number of plants for a high desert environment.

They may have even seen some 200 species of birds or some of the park’s 11 species of bats, had they camped there at night.

This summer’s events will highlight the “Phases of the Moon” experienced at the park.

MAY—Rich Cultural History

People of the Moon presentation – Saturday, May 4 at 1 p.m: This 90-minute talk hosted by retired park guide Ted Stout will cover the people who have frequented the Craters from the Shoshone and Bannock tribes to today’s park visitors. 

Artist-in-Residence Demonstration – Saturday, May 25 at Noon: Painter April Felker will demonstrate the creation of oil landscapes through 4 p.m. 

Star Party—Friday, May 31 at 9:30 p.m.: At the Caves area, a 20-minute drive from the visitor center.

JUNE—Tranquil Wilderness

Star Party—Saturday, June 1, at 9:30 p.m.: Ranger program at Caves area will include telescope viewing.

Wildflower and Ethnobotany Walk—Saturday, June 1, at 10 a.m.: Four-hour walk led by retired park ranger Doug Owen will start at Tree Molds parking lot.

Wildflower Photography Stroll—Saturday, June 8 at 12:30 p.m.: Doug Owen will share his photographic secrets at 2.5-hour walk starting at Tree Molds parking lot.

Full Moon Hike – Friday, June 21 at 9:45 p.m: Attend a ranger-led hike beneath the full moon, which will illuminate the landscape and perhaps provide an opportunity to see nocturnal animals. 

Artists-in-Residence Demonstration – Saturday, June 29: Five artists-in-residence will publicly demonstrate their crafts.   

JULY—Robust Research

Star Party – Friday, July 5 at 9:45 p.m.: Listen in on a ranger presentation and enjoy telescope viewing in one of the country’s darkest areas. 

Full Moon Hike – Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20 at 9:30 p.m.: Explore the park with a ranger by the light of the full moon. 

AUGUST—Explosive Geology

Star Party – Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3 at 9:30 p.m.: Admire the heavens above this volcanic landscape through park-provided telescopes.  

Full Moon Hike – Sunday, Aug. 18, and Monday, Aug. 19 at 9 p.m.: Hike with a ranger beneath the full moon, which will illuminate the rocky surface and nearby cinder cones. 

Tree Molds Trail Geology Hike – Saturday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m.: Join former park geologist Doug Owen on a 4-mile guided hike highlighting cinder and spatter cones, lava tubes, and varying types of lava. 

SEPTEMBER—Expansive Night Sky

Star Party – Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7 at 8:30 p.m.: Spot planets, galaxies, and other celestial objects through provided telescopes. 

Artist-in-Residence Event – Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7 at 8:30 p.m.: Photographer Evan Nelson will show attendees how to shoot stellar night sky images. 

Full Moon Hike – Sunday, Sept. 15 at 8:15 p.m.: Join a 45-minute ranger-led walk under the light of the full moon. 

Artist-in-Residence Night Sky Photography Demonstration—Sunday, Sept. 15, at 8:15 p.m. Led by Evan Nelson.

Crash Course in Nature and Wildlife Photography – Saturday, Sept. 28 at 11:30 a.m.: Professional photographer Doug Owen will demonstrate how to capture natural scenes with modest gear during this 4-hour course. 

Reservations are required for some of the events. To learn more, visit https://www.nps.gov/crmo/planyourvisit/centennial.htm.

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