Inferno Cone is a large mound created by drifting cinder from adjacent volcanic eruptions.
Further up the 7.0 mile (11.2 KM) loop road from Devils Orchard Nature Trail in Craters of the Moon National Monument, the newly paved road swings west around 6,181 ft (1,861 m) Paisley Cone and becomes one-way heading directly towards Big Craters and 6,357 ft (1,038 m) Silent Cone.
A roadside pullout provides parking at the base of 6,181 ft (1,884 m) Inferno Cone where the small parking area is surrounded by smooth, black, volcanic cinder cones.
A short, ½ mile (0.8 KM), round-trip hike from the roadside trail-head, with only a 164 ft (50 m) consistent elevation gain, will deliver hikers straight to the top of Inferno Cone.
The large barren cone is a black mound of fine, moderately steep cinder that shifts slightly underfoot, but the short ascent leads to a flat top thick with desert plants. On the east side of the deceivingly large top of the cone is a lone, old tree which has survived the ravages of wind, weather and time. It is the same tree that is silhouetted so prominently in the view from Devils Orchard.
The distortion created by distance in this black, bland environment becomes immediately apparent. Expectations were for a much smaller tree, a smaller cone and very limited, if any, vegetation. The opportunity to hike around the edge of Inferno Cone's flat summit and absorb the breathtaking, expansive views of Craters of the Moon National Monument creates indelible memories.
At the top many photos are captured prior to descent. There is no crater at the summit. Inferno Cone and other cones nearby are the product of cinder eruption from an area likely near the Spatter Cones then blown by the wind to create a mountain-sized pile of fine cinder. The violence and ferocity of the eruptions which would create this environment is difficult to imagine.
At only 2,000 years in age, it is certain resident Native Indian populations of the time witnessed these events. It is likely there will be new volcanic activity on the surface of the Earth as long as plates shift and the planet gradually cools and shrinks over geological time.
The lone large tree at the top of Inferno Cone in Craters of the Moon National Monument
Vistas from the top of Inferno Cone are unique, expansive and spectacular. A cool breeze balances the heat of a warm day.
Inferno Cone's black cinder slope against Paisley Cone in the background
The descent of Inferno Cone
After this short bit of exercise, laced with an abundance of fresh air and spectacular views of the fascinating volcanic views along the Great Rift, the exploration continues to the next stop for close and personal examination of two miniature volcanoes called Spatter Cones.