Despite a low snow year, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve's Winter Snow School Program continues to grow in popularity. This winter over 1100 Idaho school children from kindergarten to high school visited the park to learn about how the plants and animals survive the cold winters in this harsh environment. "The winter snowshoe program has become a rite of passage for Southern Idaho school children,” said Ted Stout, Chief of Interpretation and Education.
For more than a decade park staff have offered winter snowshoe excursions that provide the public with an opportunity to explore this volcanic landscape in winter. These popular weekend events allow visitors to learn about how plants and animals have adapted to winter’s snows and also how the snow provides essential moisture for plants, animals and people throughout the region.
Thanks to a generous donation of snowshoes from the Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Snow School program, park staff extended the snowshoe program to educational groups in 2006. Park staff are currently wrapping up a three year project to develop new curriculum materials and provide transportation support for school groups paid for by park recreation fees and grants from the National Park Foundation.
The park has received many positive comments from the student participants, including the following:
· That was the best school day I’ve ever had!
· My favorite part was putting on the snowshoes and walking in the snow.”
· I like Craters of the Moon because it is such a cool place and has a lot of cool things!”
One of our teachers sums up the experience best:
· It was very helpful to have the information on the Craters web site. Our class did the experiment about insulation and talked about how animals survive winter…They learned a great deal about a topic that is meaningful because it’s so close to home for them. It is also a beautiful and unique treasure in our own corner of the world!
More about Snow School….
More winter images of the park are available on our flickr page: