Your Guide to Camping at Craters of the Moon

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Arco, Idaho – June 30, 2019: Sign for the Craters of the Moon National Monument, managed by the US National Park Service

Are you looking for an adventure that’s out of this world? While we can’t strap you into a seat on a rocket, we can help you find some incredible spots at Craters of the Moon for camping. This park’s landscapes and rugged terrain will leave you feeling like you’re on another planet. 

Since you can’t go to the moon anytime soon, this is the next best thing.  So why not get as close as possible to living out your dream of camping on the moon?

Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about Craters of the Moon camping to have an epic and extraordinary experience.

Let’s get started!

Where Is Craters of the Moon?

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve sits in south-central Idaho. This vast and rugged terrain is approximately 84 miles northwest of Idaho Falls.

It’s roughly halfway between Boise and Yellowstone National Park. Around 250,000 people travel to this remote section of Idaho yearly to experience this park’s unique views.

Pro Tip: While you’re checking out Craters of the Moon, don’t forget to add The Atomic City of Arco, Idaho to your list!

A woman standing on old lava at craters of the moon with cloudy skies behind her

What Is Craters of the Moon Known For?

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve has a reputation for its unique landscape that, as its name implies, looks like the moon’s surface.

The park covers over 750,000 acres of land and includes many volcanic craters, lava flows, and unique geological formations like cinder cones, spatter cones, and lava tube caves.

The area is a popular spot for researchers and scientists who have devoted their lives to geology. These individuals can get up close and personal with the volcanic activity that took place 15,000 years ago.

Due to the park’s remote location, it’s a popular destination for hiking, camping, and stargazing. With practically no light pollution, the area has some of the darkest skies in the world. If you want to experience a star-filled sky, this is one of the best places to do it.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Craters of the Moon?

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is open year-round. While April through October can all be excellent times to visit, the best times are in September and October.

This is because the temperatures tend to cool, and crowds thin out. You’ll be able to enjoy less crowded trails and campgrounds as a result.

Unfortunately, some areas may be inaccessible from November through March due to snow and ice. Traveling conditions and temperatures during this time can be extremely dangerous. 

Unless you are prepared, we strongly recommend visiting during the warmer months when you’ll have warmer temperatures and more daylight hours.

How Much Does Camping Cost at Craters of the Moon Camping?

Camping inside the park boundaries is incredibly inexpensive but is rustic. There is no power or access to a dump station. Depending on when you are looking to camp, fees range from $0 to $15 per night. 

However, water is unavailable during the shoulder seasons and throughout winter, which is the reason for the lower prices. Those with a Senior or Access Pass can save 50% when making a reservation.

If you’re going to require electricity or a dump station, you’re going to need to camp outside of the park. These sites are still relatively budget-friendly and range from $10 to $55 per night. 

There are also opportunities in the area for boondocking, but this will require you to be self-sufficient, and not all sites are accessible in every rig. So do your research before attempting to reach any off-grid camping spots.

A man sitting on the top of a lava tube, while camping at craters of the moon.

Camping Near Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

If you want to make the most out of your time at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, you’ll want to stay as close as possible. We’ve found several of the best spots for camping near this park. However, be prepared, this is a remote park, and it may require a bit of a drive no matter where you stay.

Lava Flow Campground

Address: 1266 Craters Loop Road Arco, ID 83213
Distance From Craters of the Moon: 0.0 miles
Cost: $0 to $15 per night

About: Lava Flow Campground is a 42-site campground open seasonally from May through November. It’s within the park’s boundaries and allows you to maximize your time exploring. 

Sites are on a first-come, first-served basis. While some of the sites here will accommodate RVs, none of them have electrical hookups. Since there is no dump station, empty your tanks before you arrive. 

This is the only camping option at Craters of the Moon, so if you want to be close, plan accordingly. Read First Come First Serve Camping Tips To Always Get A Spot before heading out!

Arco-Craters of the Moon KOA

Address: 2424 North 3000 West Arco, ID 83213
Distance From Craters of the Moon: 19 miles
Cost: $45 to $51 per night

About: This KOA is only a short 20-minute drive outside of the park. It has 51 sites and is big-rig friendly. However, it’s a seasonal park open from April through September. 

This is your best option if you want to stay close to Craters of the Moon but want full hookups. While Campendium users give it mixed reviews, it still manages a four-star rating. If you come with the right expectations, you’ll likely have a pleasant experience.

A lava tube at craters of the moon. You can camp right next to it when craters of the moon camping.

Moose Crossing RV

Address: 3794 U.S. 93 Milepost 100, Mackay, ID 83251
Distance From Craters of the Moon: 37 miles
Cost: $35 to $40 per night

About: While staying at Moose Crossing RV will require a 45-minute drive if you want to visit the park, the friendly owners make it worth it. 

One reviewer describes it as “One of the friendliest places we have ever stayed.” This seasonal campground offers several sites, all of which are pull-through. The views from this campground are out of this world, with snow-capped mountains surrounding the facilities.”

If you can’t camp directly in the park, this park is a great backup for Craters of the Moon camping.

Pro Tip: Looking to build out your entire Idaho itinerary? Check out The Best Locations for Camping in Idaho to get started!

White Knob Motel & RV Park

Address: 4255 US-93, Mackay, ID 83251
Distance From Craters of the Moon: 43 miles
Cost: $10 to $35 per night

About: White Knob Motel & RV Park is a seasonal campground with much to offer. There are sites for tent camping, dry camping, and full hookups. 

In addition, there is WiFi throughout the campground, which is hard to come by in this neck of the woods. If you’d rather enjoy more comfort, you can check into the motel and stay in the King Suite. However, the prices are rather budget-friendly no matter how you choose to stay. 

Snake River RV Park

Address: 1440 Lindsay Blvd, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402
Distance From Craters of the Moon: 87 miles
Cost: $25 to $59 per night

About: Snake River RV Park is a seasonal campground that’s open from April 15 through October 14. 

If you’re looking for space, you’ll love it here. They have some of the largest pull-through sites in the area, some up to 85 feet long. Take the time to dump your waste tanks, fill up on propane, and use the WiFi to check your email and stay connected. 

Kids will love burning off any energy they have while splashing in the swimming pool and running around the playground.

Old lava formations at craters of the moon national monument

Lake Creek Road Dispersed Camping

Address: Lake Creek Rd. Ketchum, ID 83340
Distance From Craters of the Moon: 68 miles
Cost: $0 per night

About: If you can be self-sufficient, Lake Creek Road offers an incredible spot for dispersed camping. This spot is available seasonally, so check the USFS website to confirm the area’s status. 

The most recent reviews share that the access roads are in excellent condition, and plenty of sites are available. However, those in RVs over 25 feet may want to stay within the lake area. While it’s an hour drive from Craters of the Moon, it’s still a great free camping option.

Hayspur Fish Hatchery Campground

Address: 71 Hayspur Ln. Bellevue, ID 83313
Distance From Craters of the Moon: 37 miles
Cost: $0 per night

About: We want to keep some spots secret, but we’ll spill the beans on this one. Hayspur Fish Hatchery Campground is one of the best spots for free camping to explore Craters of the Moon. 

It’s typically available mid-May through October and has a maximum stay of 10 days. However, there’s plenty of space for everyone, even those in the largest campers. There’s a fishing pond, and moose frequent the area – what more could you ask for in a free site?

Is Camping at Craters of the Moon Worth It?

Craters of the Moon is one of the most unique and interesting places to visit. We suggest you camp as close as possible to it so you can spend more time exploring. 

Whether you choose to boondock or camp in one of the campgrounds, just make sure you take your time. This is a beautiful area; you don’t want to rush through and miss anything.

  1. Have been following you guys and noticed you are in Tucson. My girlfriend and I Live there just wanted to tell you some Free places to go… Mt. Lemon, Tubac
    Winter haven lots of lights, Sonoita wine country, tombstone,old mining town Bisbee, some places that charge desert museum, Sabino Canyon , Reid park zoo
    Kartchner caverns ,Some beer places, The barrio, thunder canyon, have fun ! We are looking to some day having are own adventures.

    1. Hey, David and Jill! Thank you so much for the recommendations, however we’ve already rolled out of Tucson. One of our 2018 goals is to be more up to date with our location across our social media platforms. You’re not the first to send recommendations after we’ve left a place and it really bums us out! lol. But thanks again and we loved Tucson so we will definitely be back! Adding these to our list 🙂

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