Road Trip Out West: Craters of the Moon, Preston, and Bonneville Salt Flats

The drive to Craters of the Moon is definitely like being on the moon. It is difficult to take a picture of the landscape because it is so vast. The lava rocks are piled up against rolling fields and mountains. They are black either growing bushes and grass or still stark piles.

Lava fields

When you arrive at the visitors’ center, that is the true entrance to Craters of the Moon Monument and Preserve. It is a National Park, so it costs $20 to enter. Jef purchased a yearly park pass, which is $80 and I believe we have already spent that amount on parks this trip. There is a loop road that you can take with a number of stops. There are caves that you can explore if you have a permit. However, both the caves and North Crater Flow Trail are closed. I overheard that they were closed due to earthquakes in the last couple of months made the area unstable. We walked around the Devil’s Orchard and Spatter Cones when we were there. You can walk up to the top of Inferno Cone. It’s .8 miles, but I was not up to the task.

Witches Broom in Devi’s Orchard
Spatter Cones
Walkway up the cone
Inside the Spatter Cone. Yes, snow.

The landscape in Idaho is beautiful. We enjoyed our drives looking at the mountains in the distance. We rented an Airbnb for the weekend in Preston. We had no idea that it was the place that they filmed Napoleon Dynamite. We watched the movie the night we arrived and recognized most of the places from our drive around town. I had forgotten what a weird movie it is. I like it though.

Napoleon Dynamite’s house

Since there is not a lot around Preston besides hot springs (and the temperature was supposed to hit almost a 100 degrees), we drove to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. We had the pleasure of stopping at In and Out Burger on our way there. As we drove to the Salt Flats, we noticed that people had rearranged rocks in the salt to write names, create smiley faces and other creations. Jef also thought he saw a couple of “Will you marry me?” drawn with rocks. It was fascinating because it was on the side of a highway in which the speed limit was 80 mph. We also saw quite a few mirages. There were also two salt factories on the drive. It is crazy to think that all that salt ends up on our tables.

Salt Factory

It was a very long drive to get to Bonneville Salt Flats. When you get there, it’s a rest stop. You can drive out onto the salt if the conditions are right. There were quite a few people out on the salt both in cars and walking. There were several cars that looked like they were lined up to race. The Bonneville Speedway is located in this area where many land speeds have been broken starting back in the 1800s. We decided to drive out onto the salt. I attempted a donut, but it made me too nervous. It was kind of like driving on snow, but more stable.

Lining up to race? Nope. They just did donuts.
Mountains in the distance
My car in the middle of the Salt Flats
Small canal

The canals are off limits to swimming, kayaking, floating, etc, but when we drove out there and of course there were people in the water. We took pictures and felt the water. It was warm and our fingers were covered with salt. Jef could even taste the salt on his lips from just standing on the flats. There are quite a few pictures online of people kayaking in crystal blue canals, but it is illegal and dangerous due to the chemicals they are processing in most of them. I’m not even sure how people find or get to these canals, but I guess some people will do anything for a good picture!

We got a lot of salt on the car! Looks like snow, right?

After driving out on the Salt Flats, Jef wanted to check out Wendover Air Force Base, which was a base of operations during World War II and where the Ebola Gay was stationed. They have a small museum with a replica of the bomb that they dropped on Japan. There is also a prop plane that they used in the movie Con Air.

Con Air Prop Plane

Although driving to the Salt Flats made for a very long day in the car, it was something that I would have never experienced anywhere else. It was worth the drive.

We had fun!

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