Craters of the Moon National Monument Wilderness, Idaho.


Craters of the Moon N.M. Wilderness. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

The Wilderness Act applies to national parks and monuments as well as national forest and BLM lands, but few such areas in national parks and monuments have been designated. However, one NPS wilderness system unit is in Idaho. Most of the original Craters of the Moon National Monument (beginning 100 yards from the loop road) was designated by Congress as Wilderness, almost a generation ago.

Since then, President Clinton greatly expanded the size of Craters of the Moon National Monument. This vast addition, which is not designated wilderness, nevertheless, contains hundreds of thousands of acres of rugged roadless country. It is wilderness in fact, if not by law. Ironically, more of the on-the-ground wilderness is in this big addition than in the official designated portion in the old national monument.

Travel in Craters of the Moon Wilderness is very difficult. The basalt flows are rugged, and very hard on the boots. Most of the year there is no water. There is never flowing water. For orientation you need GPS because the magnetism of the flows defeats a compass. The microtopography makes use of a topographic map difficult. In a fog, no distant landmarks can be seen.

Craters of the Moon National Monument Wilderness
Craters of the Moon Wilderness basalt with lichens.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Tree mould. Craters of the Moon National Monument

A tree mould at Trench Mortar Flat in Craters of the Moon Wilderness. Copyright © Ralph Maughan


Craters of the Moon Wilderness
Winter on one of the aa aa (ah ah) lava flows in the Wilderness.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

 
Craters of the Moon National Monument Wilderness/ July 10, 2005