Well-known for its lava flows that date back more than 10,000 years, Cedar Butte Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is a 56 square mile Bureau of Land Management property in Idaho that offers both primitive recreation and nature observation opportunities to visitors. This wilderness lies 42 miles west of Idaho Falls in Idaho and is best accessed by four-wheel-drive vehicles.
There are plenty of ways to stay active at this BLM park; hunting, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and photography are just a few of the recreational interests that visitors can pursue in this wilderness. Guests looking to spread their exploration outside the boundaries of this wilderness can visit Fort Hall Historic Monument to see artifacts that describe the hall’s heritage. At Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, more outdoor exercises such as snowshoeing, skiing, birding, and caving are available to all who visit. Without a doubt, there’s something for everyone!
There are no services or facilities at Cedar Butte Wilderness Study Area, so only primitive and free camping opportunities are available. Guests who wish to camp in their RVs or fifth wheels will have to visit the nearby national monument.
Cedar Butte Wilderness Study Area lies 42 miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, in Bingham County. The main route to this BLM wilderness is via US Highway 26 that runs from Blackfoot through Atomic City, all the way to Butte City. Because the access roads that branch off the highway and surround the WSA are not maintained, all visitors are advised to come to the park in high clearance vehicles with four-wheel drives. Note that the access roads may be washed out or overgrown, so be prepared for a rough ride.
Within the boundaries of Cedar Butte Wilderness Study Area, the use of motorized vehicles and mechanical equipment is not allowed. So, as you approach the wilderness, be on the lookout for signs and posts that indicate where the boundaries are. There are parking spaces available around where the wilderness boundaries are located.
There are no direct public transportation services to Cedar Butte Wilderness Study Area.
You’ll find Lava Flow Campground at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This campground consists of 42 campsites that are available between May and November, depending on prevalent weather conditions. No reservations are accepted as all the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The campsites are surrounded by a young lava flow. Amenities include water, restrooms, charcoal grills, and picnic tables. Some of the sites are fully accessible, and some other have an electrical outlet.
Tents and RVs are accommodated in the campsites, but only a few sites have space for large RVs up to 40 feet.
Fort Hall Historic Monument is a popular tourist attraction located south of Cedar Butte WSA on Snake River. The initial structure which served as a trading post was built in 1834 and demolished 29 years later. The replica which stands as a memorial to the hall’s heritage is now a popular destination where visitors get to see historical artifacts such as maps, recipes, and letters.
The New Fort Hall site is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
If your interest is watching wildlife and taking pictures of them as they roam about, rest assured you will not run out of animals to see in and around this wilderness area. Several species of mammals call this area home, including mule deer, rodents, antelope, coyotes, and rabbits.
At the nearby National Monument, additional wildlife like porcupines, jackrabbits, chipmunks, ground squirrels and mountain cottontails are commonly sighted. These animals are supported by the presence of 750 different types of plant communities that exist within the Monument.
More than 100 bird species have been identified at Cedar Butte Wilderness Study Area. The most commonly sighted ones in the park are mourning doves and sage grouse, so you should look out for them as soon as you arrive.
Juniper stands, limber pine and rocky mountain in the area are home to flycatchers, woodpeckers, warblers, chickadees, and many other birds that you’ll see.
During winter, rough-legged hawks, snow buntings, snowy owls, rosy-finches and northern shrikes remain here.
Winter guests at Cedar Butte WSA visit Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve to enjoy skiing exercises. A dedicated winter trail is provided in the park and this trail is groomed between December and March.
Novice skiers shouldn’t have much difficulty skiing on this four- to seven-mile-long trail because it passes along level terrain to gentle hills. Experienced skiers, on the other hand, can detour to the section of the trail that passes through a steep hill for a more challenging adventure.
Ever wanted to explore the insides of a cave to get the feeling of being in such a beautiful wonder of nature? You’re in luck if you have because five caves are open to the public at Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. Four caves lie along the 1.6-mile-long Caves Trail at the National Monument, while the fifth cave is accessible from the Broken Top Loop Trail.
Some of the caves are more difficult to explore than others, so be prepared. To make your adventure better, trail guides are made available for visitors.
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve has a snow-covered landscape that invites snowshoeing enthusiasts during winter months. If you visit Cedar Butte WSA and are interested in the activity, you should follow the orange snow poles at the national monument to explore the 1-mile-long Snowshoe Loop Trail that will take you up a cinder cone.
Individuals and groups can participate in Snowshoe Walks organized in the park. Interestingly, no prior snowshoeing experience is required.