Craters of the Moon and the EBR-1 Atomic Museum, ID

Road trip! We had a pretty major driving day ahead of us as we made our way from Stanley, ID to Grand Teton National Park. Decisions had to be made. While I really wanted to see Shoshone Falls and take a dip in a few hot springs, we only had so much time and, honestly, inclination towards driving additional distance. I did, however, really want to see the Craters of the Moon so that was the planned route. We found another roadside attraction between CoM and Yellowstone, which was serendipitous and very cool (or hot…keep reading!).

Our first stop was at the Ranger Station where we could get screened for going into the lava tubes. A straightforward screening became convoluted when SMS decided to think really hard about if he had been in caves and, if he had, would he really remember what he had worn? I should have given him a heads up that the screening existed, but it was a moment of tension when I thought the ranger would ban us from the lava tubes. Never fear, we ended up in the clear!

Walking on lava!

Then, we proceeded along the driving loop on Loop Road (creative!) around the park. It was another 90+ degree day, but we still decided to climb to the top of Inferno Cone. It provided a great viewpoint and the wind made the heat more bearable. We saw the spatter cones from a distance and other lava formations that I don’t remember the exact names.

Then we went to the lava tubes! Two were closed, but Indian Tunnel was pretty neat to walk through. There are lots of natural “skylights,” which is a nice way of saying “partial tunnel collapse.” The rangers said everything has been stable for decades, which I think was meant to be reassuring. I felt better when I realized that most tunnel collapse occurs in the Spring with water freezing/refreezing/moving, which causes the active destabilization.

After about an hour, we felt we had seen a good portion of the park and it was time to continue on. We were driving through some pretty flat parts of Idaho when SMS started seeing signs for EBR-1. We looked it up and thought, “Yes, let’s stop at Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 (EBR) Atomic Museum!

EBR-1 was an interesting place. Picture a lot of young single males in the middle of nowhere trying to harness the power of nuclear energy, aka, blow shit up but not too much. “Operation Weiner Roast,” anyone?

The decommissioned reactor was very interesting and we were able to understand the timeline of experiments and factory layout pretty well. It was a little more SMS’ interest than mine, but it was such a cool, unplanned find. I love when that happens!

After our self-guided tour, we got back in the car and drove on towards Jackson Hole/Grand Teton. Blog post coming soon!

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