Saturday I decided to go check out the Lewis and Clark Caverns. They lie about half an hour south of Boulder a little east of Whitehall. The drive was very scenic so I snapped a few pictures on the way down. I apologize for any bug guts in the pictures, the bugs don’t wash of the windshield so well.
So I finally got to the Park with the caverns. Got out to take a picture of the sign and get more information about the park. Turns out I had to up into the mountains another 3 miles to actually get to the caves. I took a few pictures on the way up, but also had to pay attention to the winding curvey road that climbed between the mountains and up. Got a nice view of the valley though.
Once I finally got up to the top. I found out that the price for the tour in the AAA book was not correct (bummer). After trying to see if i could get an americorp discount (no luck) I decided that I might as well see all I can see while I was in the area, and cry over my 5 bucks lost later. There was a poor baby mouse who was lost running around blindly. I tried to keep him out of the way of people’s feet but he kept running back out in the open. Oh well.
We hiked about 3/4 of a mile up a steep incline in the blistering heat. This made me miss hiking back east where we have actual trees to protect you from the sun. But anyway we finally got to the top where the cave entrance was.
We than listened to our tour guide describe the history of the caves. Apparently Lewis and Clark did not even find the caves, they explored the whole valley around them, but never saw these caves. Almost 50 years later some local men were out hunting during the winter and saw steam rising from the mountains. Curious they went to go investigate and found a huge hole in the mountain. Eventually one of these men, a guy by the name of Morrison managed to convince some local men to repel down the whole where they found all sorts of wonderous caves. Eventually he had some people build a giant winding staircase to the bottom so that he could start bringing tours down. These tours went on for several years and gained a lot of notoriety even across the pond in Europe. Eventually the local railroad heard about them, and found out it was on their land given to them by the government. Throwing a big fuss the government came and told Morrison he wasn’t allowed to have his tours anymore. They then switched he lock in the door with one of theirs and left. Morrison at first dismayed left the caves, but he eventually decided he had invested too much into the caves. So he went and cut off their lock and continued his tours. Apparently he and the federal government would trade locks every year for 30 years or so until Morrison passed away. At this point not knowing what else to do, the government gave ownership of the caves to the Montana state government, because they didn’t want another conservation project as they were already working on Yellowstone. So Montana got the caves, and blasted out them out more. They also put in stone steps and railings. So you’re probably wondering how they caves got named after Lewis and Clark if they never discovered them. When Roosevelt was president he decided that Lewis and Clark didn’t get enough credit for their travels and he renamed the caves after them. Nevermind about the real guy who discovered them and worked hard to create tours of them.
The first parts of the cave I wasn’t able to get many good pictures of. Worried about spooking the bats in the cave we weren’t able to use the flash of our cameras until deeper. But there were many cool formations of rock. Some they call flowstone, dripstone (which kinda looks like bacon), stalactites and stalagmites, and mini stalactites called soda straws.
We traveled down further and crossed something called beaver slide rock. Its called that because of the extremely low ceiling you either have to stumble three quarters bent over, or you can slide on your rock like a beaver (or penguin in Michelle’s case :P). At this point I could finally take some pictures with flash. We found some flowstone in various colours that resembled ice cream. There was a chocolate, vanilla, and later a strawberry colored stone.
Having left the cave and worked up quite an appetite, I ate at a local restaurant called La Hood which one of my coworkers recommended to me. The restaurant is named after a local who let the conservation corp set up tents on his land while the worked on the caves.
That’s all for now. Tune in next week for Glacier Park!