NRA Family Destinations: Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

Montana is full of hidden gems ... but this one counts more as buried treasure.

by
posted on April 22, 2024
Lewisandclarkpurple

The thing about buried treasure is that it's easy to miss. Famed explorers Lewis & Clark may have been the first European-descended pioneers to explore the American Northwest, and they explored quite a lot, but they walked right past one of the one of the most spectacular Montana destinations, the Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, without seeing it. (It's hard to blame them; it is underground, after all.) Despite the fact that it was actually discovered by hunters at the turn of the 20th century, it proudly bears a much more recognizable set of names. As one of the most decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest, filled with spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, columns and helictites, this is one vacation spot your NRA Family will love to unearth.  

Tours will be offered from May 1 through Sept. 30. Both first-come-first-served tours and reservable tours will be offered. Visitors are encouraged to check the website frequently as tour options, times and availability may change throughout the season. Reservable tours are available from May 24 through Labor Day. (To make those reservations, call (855) 922-6768 or click here.)

Paradise Tour 

The Paradise Tour includes a view of the largest and most decorated room in the cave — the Paradise Room. This 1-mile tour lasts 90 minutes. It includes 15 stairs between two rooms, but the path is mostly level and partly wheelchair accessible. Because the Paradise Tour provides better accessibility and easier passage, this tour is recommended for visitors with small children, claustrophobia or who prefer a less arduous experience.

The Paradise Tour will be offered every day starting May 1 on a first-come-first-served basis until Memorial Day weekend. Starting Memorial Day weekend, reservations can be made, and tour times will be 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. These times are subject to change, so visit fwp.mt.gov/stateparks prior to your visit.

Tickets for the paradise tour are $10 for visitors ages 62 and older, $15 for visitors ages 15 to 61, $10 for kids ages 5 to 14, and free for anyone 4 or younger.

Classic Tour

The Classic Tour features a 2-mile journey through the majority of the developed cave and includes the second-largest and longest rooms in the cave. This tour lasts for two hours and includes more than 600 stairs, stooping and tight squeezes. It is not recommended for small children, visitors with claustrophobia, or those who prefer a less strenuous experience.

Limited Classic Tours will be offered from May 1 to May 23. Additional tours may be added as staffing allows. The Classic Tour will be offered every day starting May 24 on the hour from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. by reservable tickets and as staffing allows.

Tickets for the classic tour are $15 for visitors ages 15 and older, $10 for kids ages 5 to 14, and $5 for anyone 4 or younger.

There's plenty to do above the soil, too. The park offers camping, trails to hike or bike, a state-of-the-art visitor center, interpretive displays, a gift shop, food and beverage concessions, an amphitheater and interpretive events during the summer months. 

Planning your visit

An $8 entrance fee is required for visitors who are not residents of Montana and not staying in the campground. Residents of the state normally pay the fee with vehicle registration. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is about 15 miles southeast of Whitehall, along Montana Highway 2. For more information about the park, please click here. 

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