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Montana is one of the most stunning states in the country and is home to the stunning Glacier National Park. But not all of Montana's attractions are above the surface - one of the top state parks to discover is the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. It is famous for having some of the most decorated caves in the Northwest.

The Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is located in Jefferson Count in Montana and has a visitor center and ten miles of hiking trails. The caverns are a wonderworld of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and more - all naturally air-conditioned. For another rewarding subterranean experience, consider visiting the Mammoth Cave National Park next time in Kentucky.


Discovery & History Of The Lewis And Clark Caverns

The explorers, Lewis and Clark, are known to have camped within sight of the caverns in 1805, although they didn't see it. The cave was first explored (with documented evidence) in 1898. It quickly became a tourist attraction, with tours first being offered by Dan A. Morrison in 1900.

  • Park Size: 3,000-acre (1,200 ha)

The cave was first called Limespur Cave, but the caverns were later renamed after the explorers as it overlooks around 50 miles of the trail from Lewis and Clark.

The caverns became Montana's first state park in 1938 and are one of the most popular in the state.

The limestone of the Lewis and Clark Caverns is very old, dating back to the Mississippian age between 325 and 365 million years ago (long before the time of the dinosaurs). The caves themselves are thought to have formed during the ice ages when there was more water than today.

Related: What To Do In Montana, Depending On Which Month You Visit

Lewis And Clark Caverns State Park Cave Tours

The Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is open year-round and is open to the public with guided tours only. The tours run from May to September. It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance between June 4 and September 4. Some tickets can be purchased in advance, while others are on a first-come-first-served basis.

  • Cave Tour Season: May - September

Visitors can choose between two regular tour options - there is the Classic Cave Tour and the Paradise Tour.

Classic Cave Tour

The Classic Cave Tour is considered moderately difficult and has an elevation gain of 300 feet. Expect to ascend over 100 stairs and descend over 500 stairs. Wear appropriate footwear for wet and slippery conditions.

  • Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
  • Length: 2 Miles or 3.2 km
  • Duration: Two Hours
  • Cost: $15.00 Per Adult Aged 15+

Paradise Tour

The Paradise Tour is a great option for those for whom mobility may be a little challenging or who have young children. The tour explores 2 cave rooms and covers around a mile.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1 Mile or 1.6 km
  • Duration: One Hour to One And A Half Hours
  • Cost: $15.00 Per Adult Aged 15+

Additionally, there are the Wild Cave tours and Candlelight tours (costing $40.00 and $25.00, respectively). There is an age limit of 15 and over for the Wild Cave tours.

Related: Visiting Montana For The First Time? Check Out These Places

Planning A Visit To The Lewis And Clark Caverns State Park

The park has a range of facilities, including an amphitheater, camping, restrooms, visitor centers, cabins, retail firewood, and more. Activities include exploring the caves, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, photography, and other activities.

  • Park Opening Season: Year Round

While the park is open all through the year, some services are limited (e.g., the water is turned off from October 1-April 30, limiting flush toilets and RV dump facilities). The visitor center is open throughout the year.

Visitor Center Operating Hours:

  • May Through September: 9.00 am to 4.30 pm Daily
  • October Through April: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm Daily

Fees vary for Montana residents and non-residents.

  • Non-Montana Resident Fees: $8.00 Per Vehicle (Day Use)

Camping is a great option as well, with the campsite fees ranging from $4 to $34 per night (depending on amenities and season). The campsites offer boat slip, RV, tent, and rustic campsite options.

Those needing a little more comfort can stay at the state park's cabins or tipis. Prices range from $60-66 and $26-30, respectively, for non-residents. The park has plenty of things to see and enjoy on the surface as well as underneath, making it a great place for an overnight stay.