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Craters of the Moon NM s(u)

This is a smallest of the small summits. It just barely fits inside the cutoff criterium, I have set for these pages, of having a minimum of 300ft (~100m) elevation gain on the approaches, before they (possibly) meet up again. For somebody visiting this national monument, it probably comes as a surprise that there is any climbing at all involved to cycle to it.

It just goes to show, that thinking of the world in terms of summit points is not necessarily an exercise in boasting about finishing big climbs. It is just a way of thinking about the world, about categorizing it, and ordering it, about putting things in neatly labeled drawers. Some of us cannot escape this desire, while it drives others crazy.

1.START-END EAST: road crosses Big Lost River, south of Arco
2.profile turns onto loop road in the national monument
3.TOP: 6060ft, highest point on Loop Road
4.START-END WEST: lowest point on loop rd 5760ft, shortly before road merges back into loop road


From East.
Leaving Arco on US20,36,93 the road is flat and straight, and often windy. The slope increases so slightly but constantly, that it is impossible to determine an inflection point.

But by the time the turnoff to Craters of the Moon is reached, the vantage point onto the Lost River Range behind Arco has changed quite a bit, and so has the view onto the grassy slopes of the Pioneer Mountains.

The park road leads past a veritable administration city and the campground suburbs into the black rock landscape. The summit point happens during a small one way loop.  Here also starts an ever so short walking path to the top of a cinder cone, where many of the pictures on this page are taken.

By the way, staying on US20/36/93 the road continues over a separate defined summit point at about 6000ft. This area constitutes an outlier of the Pioneer Mountains, as they end into the Snake River Plain.

From West. (described downwards). A short but very steep stretch leads to a junction, with an out and back park road, going to tree molds left in the lava. This road does not lead any lower, but it does constitute a few more miles of unique scenery. As mentioned the low point on the one way loop is just barely 300ft below the summit, where the profile joins the other approach.

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( < Arco Pass | Loristica Campground s(u) > )

Craters of the Moon National Monument(sh): Outskirts of Arco > US23 west > Craters of the Moon NM road south <> out and back to Devil's Orchard area >> Craters of the Moon NM(sh) <> out and back to treemolds trailhead area >> Craters of the Moon loop road north > jct with US23 <> out and back on US23 west to turnaround point a short distance beyond the summit >> US23 east back to starting point in Arco: 52.0miles with 1760ft of climbing in 4:14hrs (garmin etrex30 r4:20.6.10, t20_06)
Notes: warm but still comfortable

A Day on a Tour with this point as highest summit point


Actually it took two days to approach this point and ride over it, in order to take advantage of staying at the NM campground for a night. The occasion was my first long bicycle tour, a ride from New York to California in 1973, starting after finishing the thing called high school.