June 16, 2012
Craters of the Moon (Idaho)
Located in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho, Craters of the Moon National Monument is one of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. It gets its name from its resemblance to the surface of the Moon, only here the rock is much darker and richer looking than that on the Moon. The Monument was established on May 2, 1924. In November 2000, a presidential proclamation by President Clinton greatly expanded the Monument area. The Visitor Center is located near the monument’s entrance. Various displays and publications along with a short film about the geology of the area help to orient visitors.
Bruneau Dunes State Park (Idaho)
This park is the site of North America’s tallest single-structure sand dune, which is approximately 470 feet high. The dunes at Bruneau Dunes State Park are unique in the Western Hemisphere. Other dunes form at the edge of a natural basin. The Bruneau dunes form near the center. The basin has acted as a natural trap for dust for over 12,000 years forming these unique dunes.
Idaho’s largest public observatory is at Bruneau Dunes State Park along the shore of the Dunes Lake and surrounded by the famous dunes. Visitors to the observatory can watch a short orientation program and then gaze at the heavens through the observatory’s big telescope. Other smaller scopes are setup outside like this solar telescope that lets you see the solar prominences and sometimes flares. A pair of strong binoculars on display reveal Dunes Lake right next door to the observatory. Dunes lake is a popular fishing area, as well as a great place to just sit on the dock and relax in the warm summer evening sunshine.