You are here

Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Lewis & Clark Caverns has a long and storied history since its discovery by local ranchers in 1892. It was first explored in 1898 using ropes extending down a long, vertical shaft and breaking through some formations — it was likely never entered by humans before. Private developers offered tours and battled with the Northern Pacific Railroad, who had been granted the land by the U.S. government.

It was eventually established as a national monument in 1908. The land around the cave became the first state park in Montana in 1936. The caverns themselves were disbanded as a national monument on August 24, 1937, and deeded to the state in 1938, becoming a part of the existing state park. The caverns were dedicated in 1941, and the Civilian Conservation Corps built a visitor center. They also formalized existing (and, at the time, illegal) cave tours by building a trail, blasting a new entrance, and creating tunnels and stairs.

Today, the park is a popular place to visit, offering a lovely campground, hiking trails and tours of the cave from May through September. While it is not a pristine cave, it is well-preserved and does not have a lot of visible vandalism. The limestone formations are beautiful and varied. The trail is a bit strenuous but not difficult, with subdued lighting. There are three options for tours. The basic tour ($12 for adults and $5 for children) is two hours and involves a hike of about 2 miles. It includes a moderate climb and 600 steps. There is a shorter tour of just the lowest room accessible via a paved path (also $12 for adults and $5 for children). There is a wild cave tour ($30) using headlamps offered throughout the summer and a candlelight tour in December.

The basic tour involves a 0.75-mile hike up a trail with a moderate grade and nice views of the surrounding area. Inside the cave the trail winds down over 600 steps through narrow and low passages and along steep drop-offs. There are handrails in all of the steep areas. The route is challenging enough to be fun, but it is not dangerous.
 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Pros

Beautiful formations. Fun and interesting route through the cave. Three tour options for most ability levels.

Cons

Only accessible on a paid tour. Not a pristine cave.

Trailhead Elevation

5,300.00 ft (1,615.44 m)

Net Elevation Gain

250.00 ft (76.20 m)

Features

Historically significant
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Cave
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

06/17/2018
The Wild Cave tour gives you more thrill and cave exposure.
Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.