Cave Exploration at Craters of the Moon National Monument

The landscape that Craters of the Moon National Monument offer is stunning in its own right. Below the surface, there are over 400 unique caves. Year over year the number of caves discovered at Craters of the Moon is growing.

craters of the moon cave

Crater of the Moon Caves

Craters of the Moon makes for a very memorable exploration experience.  Four caves within Craters of the Moon National Monument can be explored by the public fairly easily. There is an exquisite trail and map that will lead you to visit all of them via Caves Trail. There are additional caves, but they require special permits. The Craters of the Moon National Monument website can provide more details on permits needed, and how to gain access. The four standard caves you will find along Caves Trail are Beauty Cave, Dewdrop Cave, Indian Tunnel Cave and Boy Scout Cave.

Prepare for your Visit

For the four standard caves, you will need a permit before your start your exploration. The permit is completely free and designed to protect the bats that are often spotted in the dark caves. Prepare ahead of time by bringing a jacket and a flashlight, as some of the caves have no outside light source. Sturdy shoes are a must have. The terrain can be rocky and unstable.

crater of the moon cave
craters of the moon cave

Beauty Cave

When visiting Beauty Cave on a hot summers day, this cave offers a welcomed temperature drop once you get past the entrance. It is not far from the entrance that you are encompassed in complete darkness. Every step is a mystery, and it is a great time just shining the light around to see what is lining this lava cave. Aptly named, Beauty Cave, the walls inside the cave are shiny with moisture and water that can be found inside.

beauty cave

Dewdrop Cave

Dewdrop Cave has a very rocky descent, and this is where sturdy shoes are really put to the test. This Craters of the Moon cave also offers a drop in temperatures. It is smaller in comparison to other caves easily accessible to the public, but still worth taking a stroll through. Just watch your step!

Dew Drop Cave
Remember to watch your head exiting Dewdrop Cave!

Indian Tunnel Cave

In my humble opinion, Indian Tunnel Cave beats the rest in terms of vastness and just pure beauty. It has a mystical feel to it, and was the most memorable cave visited during our trip. If you have to choose to just see one cave at Craters of the Moon I would recommend Indian Tunnel. Its easily accessible, and not challenging to navigate with small children. This cave is unique because parts of the ceiling (lava tubes) have collapsed exposing sunlight. This allows you to really take your time and explore the cave without using an extra source of light. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore in this cave. It is a favorite for visiting youngsters.

indian tunnel

Boy Scout Cave

This cave is named appropriately as I imagine its entrance is most ideal for a boy scout. This cave is unique in that it has ice inside of it, but to get through the entrance you have to crawl…or sort of slide your way through. If you can. This is definitely the cave to visit if you like challenging cave terrain, or if you just want to pretend to be a boy scout for an hour or two.

Ultimately, exploring these caves is a blast. Driving through Idaho it is surprising when this unique lava terrain starts sprouting up. Taking two days to thoroughly explore the caves and all the trails at Craters of the Moon is ideal for a visit. There is camping available here, and if we could have spent even more time exploring these magnificent cave we definitely would have.

To learn more about the trails Craters of the Moon National Monument has, check out Crater Lake: Top 3 Family Trails

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