Lewis & Clark Caverns

Lewis & Clark Caverns

Dehmer, Kurt
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This summer, when the mercury rises and another float down the tepid Lower Madison River sounds anything but refreshing, one might consider loading up the family for a day at Montana’s first state park. Tucked back into the limestone cliffs that overlook the beautiful Jefferson River sit two dark holes resembling giant badger dens. These holes are the mouths of an elaborate network of caverns that are the basis for the 3,000-acre Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park.

The caverns are a cool, dark world of unhurried time, and the slow steady influence of water on rock. Tours consist of a two-mile, two-hour walk, which rises 300 feet and descends 600 stairs. Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are recommended for the walk. The temperatures in the caves are in the low 50s, so a sweatshirt should be considered. Tours of the caves are led by courteous park guides, all of whom have extensive knowledge of the geological and human history of the caverns and the park as a whole.

While the caverns may be the primary draw to Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, there are also plenty of other recreational opportunities in the park, including 44 campsites, three rental cabins, various day picnic sites, group use areas, an interpretive center, self-guided hikes, fishing access on the Jefferson river, and food & gift concessions. The visitor center has many educational displays, and offers evening programs during the summer months.

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is located 19 miles west of Three Forks on Montana Highway 2. State Park signs clearly mark the way and the 3.2-mile-long road to the visitor’s center is flanked by more picnic areas as well as a 1/4-mile and a two-mile interpretive trail.

For more information about Lewis and Clark Caverns and other Montana State Parks visit, fwp.state.mt.us, or call 406-287-3541

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