"Exploring the Wilderness" by Craig Wolfrom , public domain
Craters of the Moon
Laidlaw Park: Sagebrush Oasis
A Guided Tour of the Largest Kipuka at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (NM & PRES) in Idaho. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Laidlaw Park: Sagebrush Oasis A Guided Tour of the Largest Kipuka at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho Kipuka (key-poo-kuh) is a Hawaiian term for an area of older land that is completely surrounded by younger lava flows Points of Interest 1. Little Park is an area known as a kipuka—a topographically higher island of older land and vegetation which has been completely surrounded by younger lava flows. Kipukas are important because they can provide a picture of vegetation that may be thousands of years old. Paddleford Flat and Laidlaw Park are two other kipukas. 2. Piss Ant Butte is a cinder cone formed by the forceful ejection of frothy, gas-filled lava. While airborne, the lava bits cool rapidly to form a light, porous, glassy rock called cinder. The cinders from Piss Ant Butte have been excavated as a source for local road building materials. 3. Big Blowout Butte is the vent area of a shield volcano that formed about 210,000 years ago. This 1,500’ by 150’ deep vent was the source of an enormous amount of molten volcanic material as it surfaced from the earth’s crust. Big Blowout Butte has produced two significant lava flows—one to the south and another to the west. 4. Snowdrift Crater is the top of a low angle shield volcano that formed nearly 500,000 years ago. Snowdrift rises about 800 feet above the sagebrush plains below, is nearly threequarters of a mile long and over 180 feet deep. The bowlshaped crater holds snow during the winter and retains moisture year-round. It supports a large stand of quaking aspens and a cast of wildlife including deer, elk, antelope and many bird species. 5. Laidlaw Volcano is one of the tallest, largest, and most imposing of the shield volcanos located within the boundaries of Craters of the Moon National Monument. It stands over 900 feet tall and extends outward for several miles. The volcano formed through a series of eruptions approximately 425,000 years ago. The erupted lava was particularly fluid, creating flows over great distances across the landscape. This volcano was large enough to divert younger flows and resulted in the formation of the largest kipuka in the monument, Laidlaw Kipuka. 7. Lava Point represents the southern-most point of the Grassy lava flow. The lava source is Grassy Cone—a cinder cone located near the Craters of the Moon National Monument Visitor Center. Grassy Cone erupted nearly 7,800 years ago and its lava flows extend almost 30 miles. These flows flank both the eastern and western margins of Laidlaw Volcano, resulting in the largest kipuka in the monument. 6. South Park Well is the site of the last remaining trapper cabin on Craters of the Moon National Monument. The area has a long history of hunting and trapping dating back to early American Indians. This cabin was used by more recent peoples as a shelter from harsh weather conditions. The Bureau of Land Management stabilized the structure in 2013. 8. Bear Den Butte is a large cinder cone which sits atop the vent of a larger shield volcano. The cone is about 600 feet across, nearly 60 feet deep and is the highest point in Minidoka County. It is a relatively young feature compared to other shield volcanos in the area, dating to approximately 60,000 years. The flows at the flanks of the shield volcano contain an extensive system of lava tubes that can be traced for miles. Geologic History YOUNG VOLCANOS AND THEIR LAVA Paddleford Flat FLOWS Kipuka Little Park The most recent Kipuka eruptions at Craters of the Moon Nearly 7-10 million years ago, Idaho was located over the area now occupied by Yellowstone National Park. As the Earth’s crust inched to the southwest over a hotspot, massive volcanic eruptions occurred which damaged and weakened the crust. Leftover heat from the hotspot along with Basin and Range stretching forces caused massive amounts of lava to pour out over the landscape through rift zones, pushing down the crust, flattening the region and creating the vast Snake River Plain. Today, the crust continues to pull apart creating a series of fissures. The largest of these is the 52-mile long Great Rift, the deepest rift of all 7 continents. Laidlaw Kipuka Gre NORTH at t Rif Rift Zone Faults Volcano Over the past 13,000 years, there have been eight major eruptive events. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve protects these lava flows and the entire length of the Great Rift. c. 2,100 years old Blue Dragon Flow c. 2,200 years old Wapi Flow & Kings Bowl c. 4,000 years old Minidoka Flow c. 6,000 years old Sawtooth Flow c. 6,500 years old Little Park Flow c. 7,300 years old Grassy Flow c. 10,200 years old Pronghorn Flow c. 12,100 years old Carey Flow c. 15,100 years old oldest, non-vegetated lava flow Desert Safety Laidlaw Park is a remote backcountry area with no staff or services. Before leaving, ensure that you take water, sunscreen, first-aid kit, map (BLM 100k or USGS quad), GPS unit, long pants and sturdy shoes or boots and cell phone or SPOT-like device. Drive on designated roads only; 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance is recommended. Make sure that somebody knows where you are going and when you intend to return. In case of emergency, please dial 911. Stick to your plan! POINTS OF INTEREST 1. Little Park 2. Piss Ant Butte 3. Big Blowout Butte 4. Snowdrift Crater 5. Laidlaw Volcano 6. South Park Well 7. Lava Point 8. Bear Den Butte CAREY CRATERS OF THE MOON Visitor Center START HERE 26 BLM Shoshone Field Office 400 W. F Street Shoshone, ID 83352 208-732-7200 20 93 FOR MORE INFORMATION 4 National Park Service Craters of the Moon P.O. Box 29 Arco, ID 83213 208-527-1300 % % 3 1 % 2 % 5 % %8 6% 0 2.5 5 miles 1 7 % GeoCorps America Geologic Society of America rock.geosociety.org/g_corps