Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Lewis and Clark Caverns (near Whitehall, MT)

on January 6, 2013
The pink pictures are LED lit – this is the actual color of the formations

The first time I went to Lewis & Clark Caverns was 1983. (Google map). Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know. This ages me…. but I was a kid…does that count?

The next time I went was 2010, with Peter.  And then, we went again this year.…considering that, apparently, stalactites grow between 1/4″ and 1″ every century, and stalagmites pretty much get the “left over” drippings from the stalactites, not much has changed from 1983 to 2012, and certainly not between 2010 and 2012.  (See more information regarding stalgmites, stalactites and other cave formations, in my previous blog, December 15, 2012, regarding “Black Hills Miscellany”.)

Still, we’ll probably go again, before the next century comes around. Besides, the tour guides mix things up a bit, and have different jokes, and of course, there’s the other people in on tour.

We had a really nice group this year, and were with good friends, BUT, the 2010 tour was BY FAR the most entertaining group!

We had been travelling with 2 other couples (it was a great road trip, through Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota) and most of those adventures will be told later!   But, one of the people (Jim, you know who you are!) is like the bad kid in class – super funny, too much energy, makes the class giggly and then makes the entire class miss recess.  Despite the fact that we were all adults, it did cross my mind that we maybe wouldn’t get to have a tour. 

Also in our group were 3 men (teenager-ish acting, but “of age”) who were so extremely hung-over that they were likely still drunk. Good natured, but happy to get into the caves and away from sunlight. (They were disappointed to find out that they couldn’t take their Gatorade in the Cavern – only water allowed.)

And FINALLY (not including various other people on the tour that I don’t remember), there were Clay and Jennifer, who are GREAT adventurers! (We reminisced about them many times throughout the tour this year.)  We had thought that they were travelling with the Drunk Boys because, at one particularly narrow place of the tour, one of the drunk boys hid in a crevice and when Jennifer came by (in the dark), he grabbed her and “GRAAAAAR”ed.

I’m certain he regretted it instantly, but the rest of us were completely impressed  (and in hysterics) when Jennifer beat him to a pulp. (And later, we were shocked to find out that they all did not actually know eachother.)

(Note to people who are claustrophobic – there are low and narrow places – one of the girls with us is claustrophobic, though, and she did make it, and was happy she’d gone…there were “moments” that she was …less…happy, though)

OK! It’s unlikely that such a group of characters will converge at the same time, again, and you should be able to enjoy the tour as a tour!

The Lewis & Clark State Park is the first and oldest State Park in Montana and open year-round. However, the Cavern is only open to tours from May 1 to September 30, and from 9:00-4:30 May 1 to June 14th, and August 20 to September 30, and from 9-6:30 from May 15 to August 19.  (Double check before you go, just in case anything changes – also, check the entrance fee – right now, it’s listed at $10 for adults, and $5 for children).

First, there’s a walk (on a path) that is uphill for about 3/4 of a mile.  GoNW.about.com (under the Top 10 things to do in Montana) calls the walk “leisurely”, but take water, use the benches if you need them, and don’t forget your inhaler if you need that!!!

The Cavern has stairs and paths throughout.  Bring a sweater maybe, and good walking shoes – flip flops are a bad idea.  (Also, if you do have claustrophobia, but it’s minor, and you think you can do it, there are a couple of “turn around” spots along the way, so you can test yourself and see, before you totally commit.)

The tour takes about 2 hours, and at one point, 300 feet below ground, there’s a marker identifying that you are 5280 feet (one even mile) above sea-level! There is some stooping (or crawling, depending on how you want to navigate), sliding, turning and twisting. (I’m only telling you this in case you have any health condition that might prevent you from going – but if you can go,

DO go! It’s WORTH IT!)

On a side note, we still visit with Clay and Jenn (thank you, Facebook), but haven’t had any adventures together since then – well, at the same place, at the same time.  Soon, though, hopefully.

In the meantime, on Wednesday, we will be off to Butte!

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2 responses to “Lewis and Clark Caverns (near Whitehall, MT)

  1. Shannan says:

    Awesome pictures.

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