Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon - Hiking Idaho

 

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.

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA The view from the base of Inferno Cone looking north at 6,170 ft (1,903 m) Paisley Cone

 

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.

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA Inferno Cone was created by wind-blown volcanic cinder from another location.

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

 

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.

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA The cinder trail is straight up the west side of Inferno Cone.

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

The lone large tree at the top of Inferno Cone in Craters of the Moon National Monument

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

 

Vistas from the top of Inferno Cone are unique, expansive and spectacular.  A cool breeze balances the heat of a warm day.

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA A view from the 6,181 ft (1,884 m) summit of Inferno Cone

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA A view from the summit of Inferno Cone towards Paisley Cone

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA The dense shrubbery at the top is in stark contrast to the barren cinder slopes of Inferno Cone

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA Another view from the top. A fascinating collection of earth colors and shapes.

 

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

Inferno Cone's black cinder slope against Paisley Cone in the background

Inferno Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Thank you for your comment and kind words, Rick. Whenever I can, I follow the rules. In the past, I have had excellent success in asking for permission from Parks to capture off limit images. My personal policy is always to leave no trace of my presence. Your photos are outstanding.

I just returned from a trip to Craters of the Moon; climbed up the Devil's Inferno just prior to the sun setting on Friday Oct. 3rd, 2014. I was racing the lengthening shadows, and had grabbed only my iPad to photo document the occasion. In retrospect I wish I had carried my Canon 5D Mk111, too. Everything remains precisely how you have described it, right down to the elements-sculpted tree on top. COTM is exceptionally challenging to photograph, not owing entirely to its first-glance uniformly non-descript terrain, but I think as well because visitors are confined to man-made pathways to avoid damage to fragile plant life. For example, I would like to shoot the Devil's Inferno at sunrise from its base on the east side, looking up, and catching its entire vertical profile being just touched by the first rays. Can't do that, though, because it's off the trails! I enjoy your narrative descriptions and must compliment you on being very observant and denoting all the relevant features and landmarks. R. Landry, Corvallis, Montana

A good lava field is a fascinating place to visit. Unique terrain. I would recommend a day, max two in the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Driving through Nevada and Idaho desert is similar to driving through prairie. It is incredibly beautiful if attention is paid to detail and a sense of humour is maintained at all times. Good music and possibly singing out loud helps. There is a derelict shack standing at riverside in Arco which we passed at perfect morning light. I will never forgive myself for not stopping to take photographs. You will enjoy Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is in the middle of nowhere but worth the visit and a huge educational experience. Recommend you take rock helmets for the caves. Thanks for your comment, Andra.

You have introduced me to a place I never knew existed and I'm so intrigued that I have added Craters of The Moon National Monument to my to-do list, possibly next year! Thank you for sharing your adventures in Idaho with us.

I have hiked in the lava fields of Kauai and Maui many years ago. It is amazing as well as one of the most active volcanic areas on the planet. I have not been to Iceland but I have enjoyed posts by Rick McCharles on Best Hike.com. Volcanic terrain is uniquely beautiful and profoundly different from that to which I am accustomed. I would recommend the experience to anyone. Thanks for your comment, D. and I hope you take the opportunity to hike in Hawaii. More than thirty-five years later, the images remain vivid in my mind. If I remember correctly, some of the lava was still warm ;-)

One more very unique place to wander. Invites me to think about hiking in Hawaii as well one day. I really like that old tree also. Hardy old soul they are. D

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