Craters of the Moon National Monument AiR: Caves [Part 2]

In June, I got to be an Artist-in-Residence for the National Park Service. I spent two weeks writing about Craters of the Moon National Monument’s incredible lunar landscapes. This post contains photos of the many caves I explored while writing in the park.

The caves of CRMO are lava tubes, which is a fancy term for the cooled shell of what was once a lava river. There are eyeless beetles that live in the caves, but I didn’t get to see any of them while I was there.

I explored 4 caves — Dewdrop Cave, Indian Tunnel, Beauty Cave, and Buffalo Cave.

Dewdrop Cave

Dewdrop Cave is a tiny round depression (kind of like a bread bowl). Here is a pic of its entrance from inside.

c a cave entrance need less h 2222

The ceiling is covered in some cool looking lava stalactites that have a layer of white calcite that reflects light from a flashlight (blacklight friendly, if that is your thing).

The lichen on the walls creates unrealistically bright colors.

The last image is of a lava feature called pahoehoe, which looks like coiled innards.

Here are a couple other pics of pahoehoe on a smaller rock if you’re curious.

Indian Tunnel

Indian Tunnel is the best known of the lava tubes as it is massive and the ceiling has collapsed in places letting light in.

c b HHHHH indian tunnel

It is big and bright and interesting, but it didn’t compel me like the others.

Beauty Cave

This is another cave I spent some time working in.

Here are some cool lava features on the walls and ceiling.

The floor and walls were covered with ice, which glowed ghostly blue in the reflective light.

Strange honeycomb structures of ice grew in cracks on the walls.

This cave was my favorite.

Buffalo Cave

Buffalo Cave was the last cave I checked out. It was tied with Beauty Cave as my favorite because of its interesting lava features on the ceiling and walls.

There was a lot of crawling around on the hands and knees in this cave, which was exciting as I am claustrophobic.

Other Photos

Here are some photos of me working (and reading) in the park.

Craters of the Moon is an awesome place (either to write in or to visit), and if you’ve never been there, you should definitely check it out.

If you want to hear me read some of the poems I wrote in the park, you can check out this short video.

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