The trouble with Lewis and Clark Caverns is that no photo can convey their beauty. As a really bad photographer myself, I know my limitations, and I have given up even trying to take pictures when I go there. But it’s not just me. A quick Google search reveals few pictures that do justice to the Caverns. For some reason photography seems ill-equipped to capture the wonder and mystery of finding something so spectacular inside a mountain.
Carved by water out of SouthWest Montana’s iconic Madison Limestone, the network of rooms that make up the Caverns are natural cathedrals. The gravity-defying stalactites and stalagmites are more remarkable, more enchanting than the most fantastic pillars and tracery in the world’s most famous cathedrals. Of course, it isn’t all romantic mystery. The tours through the Caverns explain the exact geological activity that formed these wonders, but the science makes the experience even more remarkable. To think that given enough time. Dribbling water might create something so spectacular boggles the imagination.
If you’ve been to the Caverns before, then you probably know that you should go back, and new developments at the park mean that you will have an even better experience. The park seems to be continually tweaking the lighting in the Caverns to enhance to tour experience, and the LED lighting of today is hundreds of times better than lighting system I remember from ten or fifteen years ago. The park has ling offered a few candlelight tours during the winter—if you ever get the chance I recommend you take it, few things can compare to traipsing through the bowels of a mountain with only a flicking flame—and they have recently add a new tour option using only headlamps. The Wild Cave Tours—offered summer long—allow participants to explore the caverns using only headlamps, creating an experience similar to what modern cave-explorers face while caving. These new Wild Cave Tours are for ages twelve and up, and require a reservation. I’m quite excited for a new way to revisit one of my favorite state parks.
Whenever I think or talk about Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, I get so excited about the Caverns themselves that I forget to talk about the rest of the park. The park consists of 3,015 acres of Montana hills in the overlooked but remarkable Jefferson Canyon. Visitors can hike and bike over miles of trails, camp, fish, and canoe. The park also contains a bounty of Montana wildlife, including elk and bats, and excellent opportunities for birding. With all that to offer, it is no wonder our readers recently voted Lewis and Clark Caverns their favorite state park!