With sparse crowds, nice temperatures and abundant wildflowers, spring is an excellent time to visit the surreal landscape known as Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
All trails and facilities in the desert park are now open except for the Caves Trail, monument officials announced in a news release this week. The caves area will remain closed until snow and ice have melted enough to allow safe access to the lava tubes.
Keep in mind that the middle of June is the peak of wildflower season at the remote 750,000-acre monument located about 25 miles northeast of Carey on U.S. Highway 20. Here is a list of special events monument officials have planned this spring and summer:
- May 17—Bird Day Walk: 8-11:30 a.m. In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, join a ranger for this 3.5-mile hike to view spring birds. Spring migration will be under way and a variety of the monument's feathered friends should be on display, including the beautiful mountain bluebird, Idaho's state bird. Reservations are available by calling (208) 527-1300.
- May 24—"The Search for the Lost Valley": 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Monument officials will premier a new short film about the legendary "Lost Valley" of Craters of the Moon and the Idahoan who claimed to have found it. The director of the film, Steve Wursta, will be on hand to present the show and answer questions about his work on a trilogy of films that describe the fascinating life and times of Robert Limbert. The film will be shown in the visitor center theater.
- June 13 through August 16—Ranger guided walks and talks: Climb a volcano, explore a lava tube or join monument officials for an evening presentation in the campground. Daily ranger guided walks and talks begin June 13. For a detailed schedule of times for the walks, go to www.nps.gov/crmo/planyourvisit/events.htm.
- June 14 and 21—Wildflower Walks: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., two miles. Witness the annual eruption of spring blooms on these two-mile ranger guided hikes. Reservations are available by calling (208) 527-1300.