In southeastern Idaho on the Snake River Plain is a large lava field and old volcanoes, Craters of the Moon National Monument. In the distance is an eroded shield volcano. These volcanoes do not get as high as other volcanoes as the lava is near the surface and it does not have to force its way up the way that larger mountainous volcanoes such as Mount Rainer or Mount Vesuvius. The cones are much shorter and wide and the craters are smaller.
The lava field is truly a unique formation. On the right is a picture of one of many cravasses some of which extend just a few to hundreds of feet deep.
The trees and shrubs find a niche in small openings such as the one featured on the right. Lava rock is highly rich in minerals and in soil form is known for its great crop growing from potatoes to vineyards. Many plants take advantage of these rocks for the same reasons.
To the left is a lava cave that opens at the top and descends downward. As the crust on top of the rock thins over time it eventually caves in on itself. This probably was originally a lava tube or tunnel underneath the rock before becoming this crater seen here.
To the right is a lava bridge. This thin area of pooled lava covers a crack beneath it. Going over this one was a bit tricky as I tested the weight of the rock beneath my feet. On all lava fields testing the crust is important as one can fall in to a hole or crack if they are not careful about moving around on the flow.
Finally you can see the expanse of the lava flow with the mountains in the distant background. The flow once on it seemed to go for miles and miles. The entire Snake River Plane was formed by the very forces that made Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is that other world experience without having to leave earth to see it. And unlike the moon, the lava flow supports and abundance of plant and animal life. On our way out from this trip we encountered a rattle snake. The snake is a great reminder to be careful whenever hiking in the wilderness.