Located just a few miles south of I-90 between Three Forks and Butte, Montana, these caverns are definitely worth going to. These are some of the largest limestone caves in the Northwest. They have beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, and helictites. It’s a great visit into a cool environment on a hot day. You’ll be ready for the cool air of the cave after you’ve hiked up to the cave entrance from the parking lot–you’ll gain about 300 feet. It may be worth bringing some water. And it’s a spectacular view of the surrounding area from the trail to the caves. Well worth seeing.
That’s the good news. The “bad” news is that is not your typical cave journey. We’ve been in many caves, from Carslbad Caverns in New Mexico to Marvel Cave in southern Missouri to Timpanogos Cave in Utah. And I don’t remember any of them having a path through the caves like this one. “Don’t touch the formations on the side, but if you are losing your balance, it’s ok to grab to steady yourself”, the guide said. You will need to do that as you squeeze, duck, shimmy, duck walk, slide through the cave. And I’m not kidding. We got our backs scrapped quite a few times as we went through low passages.
Despite all that, there are some beautiful formations in this cave (check out the Flickr Slideshow below). You’ll probably see some bats, and you’ll enjoy the treat of walking through some gorgeous areas.
The cave tour costs $10 for those 12 and up, and $5 for kids under 12.
Some wonder if Lewis and Clark discovered the caves. They didn’t! So why the name? Theodore Roosevelt named the caves in their honor when he made the caves a National Monument in the year of the 100th anniversary of their historic expedition. Nothing in the federal system had been names for them yet, so he wanted something to honor and that turned out to be the caves. They did actual pass within site of the caves, so I guess that was close enough. In 1937 it was disbanded as a National Monument and returned to the state of Montana.
While the caves are the highlight of this state park, there actually over 3000 acres preserved here and the facilities include a Visitors Center, camping, RV camping. The website also says there is a tipi and cabins available. So there’s more to do here than just the cave.
Check out the Montana State Park website for more information on Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Like all Montana State Parks, there is a fee for the park entrance and, in this case, there are also the additional fees for the cave tour, as mentioned above.
See our Flickr slideshow, and a map to get you there below!