In the Land Before Time


I’m not sure what made us go to Arco. Honestly, probably one of my great ideas, grand adventurer! Let’s go to a place where there’s nothing, let’s make it something, and then talk about it after.

We had been driving around southeast Idaho for a few hours. There is nothing to see but sprinkler heads, yellow grass, and tumbleweeds with a few cows here and there. And maybe a random car, farmer, and/or a downtrodden house. This is day 1 of our travels and early in the afternoon. I’m super sleep deprived from our late night drive in, feeling somewhat lost, searching, questioning. Andrea’s sleeping. An hour and a half in, I’m convinced we will be stuck in southeast Idaho forever and that Arco may not even be a real place. I’m cursing Google search again under my breath.

Rest assured, an hour later we reached our final destination. No, death was not chasing us. Or if it was, we were skipped- at least for the time being.

The main attraction in Arco is not it’s gas stationlessness and small city vibes, but Craters of the Moon, which is quite the absurdity.


Climbing the “black mound” , it appeared to be (what I imagine) a combination of how you would feel when dinosaurs were roaming the earth and being on another planet.



After “the black mound”, we explored some wild caves. We adventured into two different ones, not bringing helmets or flashlights- which now that we’re world travelers we’re better prepared on all of our trips.

If you merely want to walk around and stare at some cool lava formations, I won’t be mad. But, if you’re going to make the trip out, I do highly recommend exploring all you can. Bring a headlamp (at least) if you plan to explore the caves.

I want to note I banged my head on the top of a rock upon entering one of the caves. Luckily, I did not form a blood clot and die. The reality is that these are dangerous wild caves and rocks can cave in on you without a moment’s notice.

There are also warning signs everywhere outside the entrances meant to deter naive explorers from being eaten by cave dwelling monsters. We didn’t see any cave dwelling monsters while inside, but then again we also didn’t go too far in since we were lacking the proper equipment.

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Arco is somewhere you go if you have time to spare. In our case, we were slowly working our way to Jackson Hole and totally OK with the possibility of getting lost and feeling disappointed. The good news is that I’ve already done the hard work for you- there is at least an entire day worth of exploring!

Do get gas on the way. We did not see any gas stations for about 60 miles.

What is the strangest place you’ve been to? Would you go into a wild cave without a guide? Have you heard of Craters of the Moon? Have you ever been lost? Have you found yourself second guessing Google search?


“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”– Jack Kerouac


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