Saturday, August 24, 2013

8/24 Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

Sometimes I pick campground just because they are near something or halfway on the way to something.  I picked this one for both of these reasons and also because they had electric hookups on a few campsites so I can watch TV!  Anyway, it is often a real gamble, but I lucked out on this one. It is a flat, fairly open area, surrounded by mountains.  I can get satellite TV and a bare minimum amount of cell and internet service, so I am happy here.  Spots are also spread far apart so there is some privacy and you don't have to breathe in other people's campfire smoke or listen to their conversations until late at night!

The state park is about 20 miles southeast of Bozeman, and I want to visit a museum there, but it is also very beautiful here.  The campground is located in a valley with mountains on both sides and slightly out of the main tourist traffic areas. 

I arrived in a terrible wind and rain storm yesterday afternoon, but managed to get set up OK and fill my water tank.  Got soaked, but that is not unusual.  Once I am inside, I am very cozy and comfortable.

Anyway, today I drove up the mountain to see the caverns themselves.  The road is supposed to have a 9% grade but I didn't think it was too bad. 

Good thing I set my parking brake!
Got my tour ticket for the 2:20 p.m. tour and then started hiking up the half-mile uphill path to the cave entrance.  Whew!  I kept getting more and more behind, so I finally just decided to find a place to rest and join the 2:40 p.m. tour!  The altitude and the heat really got to me.  In my defense, I think I may have been the oldest person on the tour.  Very strenuous just to get there, and 600 stairs and a mile walk inside the cave.  Here is my photos of the path halfway up.  The red arrows show the start and end of the hike to the entrance:

And some photos inside the cave.  This cave is very different from some Mammoth Cave or Carlsbad Caverns in that it is more up and down, with much narrower and lower passages.  A lot of very narrow and uneven stairs and even one place called Beaver Slide where you have to sit down and slide about 15' on a slippery rock slide!  Great fun, but a lot of the passages were also real head-bangers.  I must have hit my head a dozen times, once really hard making a big lump.  Then while I was bending over to avoid hitting my head, I whacked my shoulder hard--ouch.  That will make a big bruise, I think.

Nice thing about the half-mile hike back to the visitor center was the view of the mountains and this beautiful little valley in the distance.
In spite of my bruises and lumps, and being exhausted from this cave tour, this is a beautiful place, so I will be back again.

1 comment:

  1. Have enjoyed reading your blog occasionally. You do a great job of educating everyone about what you see. We're heading back to Papua New Guinea for 2 months and plan to blog. Could use some advice! I don't have an email address for you and don't think you're on Facebook. My address is still the same as before, so could you connect with me please? Thx, Marie.