Field Trip Friday: Lewis and Clark Caverns

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On Fridays, I (sometimes) post about our field trips exploring near home. Pack a lunch and hop in the car– here’s what you need to know to plan your own field trip.

Montana’s first state park is a showstopper. Stalactites, stalagmites, columns and cave bacon decorate this large limestone cave. A two-hour guided tour takes visitors through two miles of walkable cave trail. I think the cave is garishly lit–I prefer natural lighting to colored lights. It is highly decorated and well worth a peek, even if you are a cave snob like me.

Walking up to the cave. Watch out for rattlesnakes!

While the cave is the main event, there is more to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. There are trails to wander on foot or bike; a new visitor center with interpretive displays to help the whole family learn about the park—both above and below ground; picnic areas, a large campground, showers, and a tipi and three cabins.

If it’s a warm day, head down to the Jefferson River to wade and cool down.

Find out how to become a KUB or Junior Ranger here or at the visitor center.

Henry calls this the “practice cave.” It’s in the upper Visitor Center (yes, there are two).

Before we visited the caverns, we did a few cave experiments at home so we knew what we were looking at.

Plan Your Own Trip

What: Lewis and Clark Caverns: a limestone cave, hiking trails, campground and other lodging, visitor center.
Why: See what’s under the mountain.
Where: Travel 19 miles west of Three Forks on Montana 2 or 15 miles east of Whitehall on Montana 2.
Who: Those who can walk a few miles up and down hills and stairs. The tour is two hours and there isn’t a bathroom in the cave, nor at the entrance.
Fees: It’s free to get into the park if you have Montana license plates.
Access to cave by guided tours only (see fee info below). Summer tours are available from May 1 – Sept. 30.

Summer Cave Tours are $12 for adults (12 and up), $5 for children between the ages of 6 and 11, five and under are free. Special candlelight tours of Lewis and Clark Caverns are offered during the holiday season every December.

New! (I so want to do this!) Wild Cave Tours – Experience Lewis & Clark Caverns like never before. This introduction to caving gives visitors a face to face look at some of the wildest cave geology (speleothems) Lewis and Clark Caverns offers. Participants will explore the caverns with only headlamps for light to give the full caving experience. Tours are $30 per person; ages 12 and over and reservations are required. Contact the park for details.

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