Centennial celebration for Craters of the Moon – an extraordinary landscape in Idaho

By U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Robert Limbert, a taxidermist by trade from Boise, helped create one of Idaho's most unique and largest monuments and nature preserves with his explorations and depictions of Idaho a century ago. “The 'Valley of the Moon' lies in a region literally criss-crossed by underground caves and passages, confusing in their immensity, enigmatic in their variety of strange formations, where there are natural bridges still unknown to geographers are where bear tracks have been left for hundreds of years.” “Ancient ones can be traced for miles across cinder plains,” he described.

Two months after Limbert's prominent National Geographic article “Among the 'Craters of the Moon,'” President Calvin Coolidge announced on May 2, 1924 that 54,000 acres of heavily volcanized land in southern Idaho would become the craters of the Moon National Monument. Craters of the Moon has since become a hotbed of tourism and geological preservation.

Since the first visitor center was built in 1925, Craters has attracted thousands of people from around the world, reaching an incredible peak of 285,227 visitors in 2017. This year, on the occasion of the monument's centenary, we are taking a moment to reflect on its history.

The landscape of Craters of the Moon is unique. It is a place where you can walk on the same ground that was once molten lava flowing from deep within the earth. The vast lava fields with their remarkable formations create a lunar landscape that captures the imagination of all visitors. It is a living laboratory for scientists and a classroom without walls for educators and students.

Our celebration of the 100th anniversary of Craters of the Moon is not just a reminder of the past. It is an affirmation of our ongoing commitment to conservation, education and recreation. It is a recognition of the monument's role in our understanding of volcanic activity, ecological resilience and broader questions of planetary science. As we look to the stars and strive to explore other worlds, places like the craters of the Moon remind us of the wonders and mysteries that lie on our own planet.

Over the past century, the lunar craters have been a place of discovery and adventure. It has welcomed hikers, campers, scientists and tourists from around the world, offering an extraordinary experience not found elsewhere. The memorial was also a place of solace and reflection, where the vastness of the landscape and the silence of the wilderness speak to the heart in a way that words cannot convey.

I invite all Americans to participate in the centennial celebration of Craters of the Moon. Whether you visit in person or explore through stories and photos, I encourage you to reflect on the meaning of this monument and what it represents – a legacy for the preservation of this extraordinary Idaho landscape, a beacon of scientific research, and a symbol for the enduring beauty and strength of the natural world.

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Anna Harden

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