Ketchum wasn’t in our initial plan, but we decided to stop there because it was highly recommended by a friend of us. It was a bit out of the way but the detour wasn’t too long. As we were driving towards Ketchum we passed a small field full of American flags. A big sign by the highway read “Flag Memorial”. Someone in the car remembered that the next day was September 11. The memorial looked beautiful and I’m sorry we didn’t stop to take a picture. Ketchum looked a lot like Tahoe City, a town by the shores of Lake Tahoe where we go skiing every winter. It looked nice but familiar, the quintessential American mountain resort. We had lunch on an outside terrace in Ketchum and afterwards drove for 30 minutes past the town through Sawtooth National Recreational Area, an area of forested hills and mountains with beautiful skylines in every direction. Since we had planned for one more stop and had to be in West Yellowstone by 10 PM we decided to turn back and head for Craters of the Moon National Monument.
All the way through Idaho we saw signs marking “Historical Sites”, in fact marking the Emigrant Trail, the road taken in the 19th century by the emigrants from Eastern US to move west towards California and Oregon. Craters of the Moon was a very pleasant surprise. It’s a huge field of cold lava molded in weird shapes. It sits in the middle of nowhere which makes the landscape look even more wild and remote. I hope it stays that way. There isn’t anything active at the moment and the last eruption took place around 2000 years ago but I read on a sign that geologists believe that future events can occur. A seven miles loop road allows access to a small portion of the park. We saw cinder cones, spatter cones and craters and what seemed very exciting to us caves or lava tubes which we decided to explore. We spent about 3 hours on different small trails and hiking through caves and I took tons of pictures. When sunset approached we started on our way to West Yellowstone.