Planning a trip to Montana?
Be sure to visit Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park - even if you have to go out of your way to get there.
The campground is comfortable and well-equipped, but it's the tour of the caves that makes this park memorable.
Lewis and Clark Caverns is 45 miles west of Bozeman, Montana.
The campground has 40 spacious sites. There's also a tipi and three camping cabins.
Since the campground is in an open area, the sites can be windy. There are not a lot of trees, but most sites have at least some shade.
There's a full bathroom with pay showers, flush toilets, and sinks. There's an outdoor dishwashing sink.
Some sites have hookups. There's an RV dump station, too.
There's a nice playground for the kids.
There's a smallish visitors' center with some good interpretive displays. There's even a limited selection of camping supplies for sale.
In the summer months, the outdoor theater features evening programs. We enjoyed hearing a Montana history buff telling stories about the old days.
The campground is open all year, but in the winter the washrooms are closed and the drinking water taps are turned off. You can use the outhouses, but you'll have to bring your own water.
If you visit on a weekend in December, you can take a special candlelight tour of the caves!
The highlight of a trip to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is, of course, a tour of the caves!
Two-hour guided tours run daily from May to September. Please note that you can tour the caves only with a tour guide.
You'll need to be in reasonably good physical shape to attempt the tour. You'll be walking for about 2 hours, and there is some bending, crouching and sliding.
From the campground, drive up the road to the parking lot and sign in (and pay) at the ticket booth. You'll be given a scheduled time.
You may have to wait for a while, so go and check out the gift shop and
the snack bar. If you're hungry, have a snack now, because there is no
food allowed in the caves - not even chewing gum.
At the appointed time, report back to the ticket booth.
The most strenuous part of the tour is the 3/4 mile walk to the mouth of the cave. It's uphill all the way. On a summer day, it's hot!
Once your whole group has made it up the hill, your guide will give a brief introduction, and then in you go.
You'll see stalagmites and stalactites, of course.
You'll also see countless rock formations in weird and wonderful shapes. We had fun trying to decide what the formations looked like. It was sort of like looking for pictures in clouds. We found "cave bacon", "cave popcorn", "soda straws" and more.
You'll squeeze through tunnels, scoot through tight spaces and even slide down a natural rock slide.
Your guide will entertain and enlighten you with stories about the cave's history.
You are allowed to take photos, except in the first part of the cave where the Western big-eared bats live. Don't worry - the bats won't bother you.
Now that you know about Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, click here to learn about more of my favorite US State Parks - and to tell us about the ones you have visited!
Before you set off on your next trip, be sure to visit the Complete Family Camping Guide home page for lots of fresh camping ideas.