“Is anyone afraid of the dark? Afraid of heights? Or claustrophobic?” We peered at each other through the darkness, just a bit of light shining from a hole in the cave ceiling above us. “Does anyone want to leave before the gate is locked behind us?” A few brave souls confessed their fears but gallantly committed to move forward. Clunk. The gate closed. Our trusty guide (the only one with a flashlight!) continued….”Some areas are lighted, but not all. Stooping, bending, descending 600 steps and duck walking or sliding down the beaver slide is required. And please whisper, we don’t want to arouse the bats. Lastly, not all areas have handrails, so please don’t touch the cavern walls unless you think you will fall”. Beaver slide? Duck walking? This, after we hiked ¾ miles up to the cave entrance with a 300 foot elevation gain in the heat? Oh well, at least the caverns were a cool 42 degrees! And so our 2 hour, 2-mile, guided tour began at the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Whitehall, MT while on our way to Yellowstone. It was worth every minute and the guide’s descriptions of the trek were true to form with lots of stooping and bending (made me feel tall!). Known as the most colorful caverns in the Northwest, the entrance is a small hole in the side of a mountain, 1,400 feet above the Jefferson River. For you history buffs, the explorers did not actually see the cave but they passed by the river area below in 1805.
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