46 - Caters of the Moon, Arco Idaho

Arrived in Arco, Idaho around 2:00 on Wednesday August 31st. It was very nice to have an uneventful trip after the last few days. As we were driving, we went passed many potato fields .... hey, we are in Idaho.

Arco is a city in Butte County, Idaho, with a population of 879 as of the 2020 census, down from 995 at the 2010 census. Arco is the county seat and largest city in Butte County. 😜 Obviously a very small county.

They do have a nice tradition on what they call the "Arco Number Hill". Since 1920 graduating classes have painted the year on the cliffs to represent their school spirit and provide everlasting memories.

We went to the Pickle Place for dinner, not a lot of options. The steaks the guys got were so/so but the burgers Anita and I got were very good. Decided to go back for breakfast on Thursday and it did not disappoint anyone. Everything was delicious and the portions were huge.

Thursday 9/1st (😁 August is over) we went to Craters of the Moon which is a National Monument and Preserve in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho. 

The Monument was established on May 2, 1924 by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge to "preserve the unusual and weird volcanic formations". In November 2000, a presidential proclamation by President Clinton greatly expanded the Monument area to 410,000 acres and was designated as the National Preserve in August 2000. 

The Monument and Preserve encompass three major lava fields and about 400 square miles of sagebrush steppe grasslands to cover a total area of 1,117 square miles. All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet.

Elevation at the visitor center is 5,900 feet above sea level.

Ok enough background, now about our visit. We started innocently enough at the visitor center and got the "permit" to go to the caves. Anita got her souvenir penny, and I got a pin and postcards. We were all excited to get started. One more thing before I get into it, it was bright sunshine and 96 degrees.

First stop was Inferno Cone Viewpoint which is on top of Inferno Cone cinder cone. A short but steep trail up the cinder cone leads to an overlook of the entire monument. From there the Spatter Cones can be seen just to the south along with a large part of the Great Rift. In the distance is the over 700-foot-tall Big Cinder Butte, one of the world's largest, purely basaltic, cinder cones. It was somewhat of a hard climb up (about 200 feet) and very windy but totally worth it.

Second stop, the Cave Area, last stop on Loop Drive and, as the name indicates, has a collection of lava tube caves. Formed from the Blue Dragon Flow, the caves are a half-mile and includes several caves, we were headed to the Indian Cave. Lava tubes are created when the sides and surface of a lava flow hardens. If the fluid interior flows away a cave is left behind.

We walk the 1/2 mile to the entrance to the cave. We "glanced" and the sign outside and knew it was about 600 feet of cave, no big deal. When you go into a tourist cave there is usually a path to walk. Yeah well, supposedly an earthquake occurred so point the recent past that caused rocks to come down and it was basically climbing up and down rocks for the 600 ft. The earthquake is something another guy in the cave told us, but I have not been able to find anything online about it. Bottom line, there was NO path.

So, we slowly go up and down the rocks and get to the exit which is a climb up a tiny whole to the outside. We all made it out but were shocked to find we now had to walk the same 600ft on top of the cave in the almost 100 degrees. 😒

It actually was harder than inside the cave because we were obviously tired, and it was hot. But we made it back to the paved path and walked the 1/2 mile to the car.

I have to same I am not often beaten, might be tired but not beaten, by excursions that we do but this got the better of me. When we climbed out of the cave, I immediately felt dizzy, so we sat for a while, and I drank water. The walk on top of the cave was slow, Mike kept making sure I didn't fall, and Anita was saying "Almost there Roe". Sat on the bench when we got back to the entrance for more rest and water then I actually led the way on the paved trail back. I just wanted to get back to shade and the car as quickly as possible.

But to go on the record, I am extremely glad we did it. How often do you get to walk on craters on the moon and in a cave on the moon. 🤣

Interesting Facts about Idaho

I know this has been a longer than normal blog, but I have to do my interesting facts since we are leaving Idaho tomorrow, but I'll try to keep them short.

Idaho is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canada–United States border with the province of British Columbia. It borders the states of Montana and Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. The state's capital and largest city is Boise.

With an area of 83,570 square miles (216,400 km2), Idaho is the 14th largest state by land area, but with a population of approximately 1.8 million, it ranks as the 13th least populous, and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states.

The US Census determined Idaho's population was 1,900,923 on July 1, 2021, a 21% increase since the 2010 U.S. census. 

The vast majority of Idaho's population lives in the Snake River Plain, a valley running from across the entirety of southern Idaho from east to west. The valley contains the major cities of Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello.

According to the 2017 American Community Survey, 12.2% of Idaho's population were of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): Mexican (10.6%), Puerto Rican (0.2%), Cuban (0.1%), and other Hispanic or Latino origin (1.3%).

The five largest ancestry groups were: German (17.5%), English (16.4%), Irish (9.3%), American (8.1%), and Scottish (3.2%).

Humans may have been present in the Idaho area as long as 14,500 years ago. Excavations at Wilson Butte Cave near Twin Falls in 1959 revealed evidence of human activity, including arrowheads, that rank among the oldest dated artifacts in North America.

- Idaho is sometimes referred to as the Gem State. One can find nearly 72 types of precious stones in the state.

- The state grows nearly one-third of America’s potatoes.

 - Idaho produces other crops besides potatoes. The state is actually known as the Lentil Capital of the World. It is also known for having one of the largest hops farms in the United States.

- Idaho is known for having a canyon that is deeper than the Grand Canyon. The canyon is called Hells Canyon, and it’s 7,900 feet deep.

- Idaho’s state seal is the only seal to have been designed by a woman.

- Idaho loves potatoes so much that a giant 17 ft potato is dropped from a crane at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

- Hewlett-Packard has operated a large plant in Boise since the 1970s, which is devoted primarily to LaserJet printers production.

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