by Kevin Hughes
on Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 9:02am.
Are you a caver thinking about moving to Idaho? If so, you are in for a real treat; there's a plethora of caves in Idaho. Caves of all sizes, shapes, types and difficulties. Caves to excite even the most seasoned spelunker!
Within the State of Idaho, most caves will fall into one of three categories:
Corrosion caves are formed by the corrosive (erosive) action of water on rock that is considered relatively soft. These caves are primarily found at the edge of a lake or river and are created by waves or currents. Corrosion caves tend to be rather shallow and may not be as impressive as a solution cave or a lava cave.
Solution caves are formed when acidic ground water circulates and percolates through fractures found in limestone. As time passes, and the water continues to dissolve the rocks, the caves grow larger. Inside can be found stalactites and stalagmites. Some of the best solution caves in Idaho are found in the eastern portion of the state.
Lava caves are also found in Idaho communities. Most people think of Hawaii when they think of lava caves (or lava tubes), but there are some impressive lava caves in Idaho’s Snake River Plain. Lava caves are formed when the outer edges of a lava flow solidifies (cools) more quickly than the center area. The lava continues to flow through the center (the tube) until the source of the lava stops. Then the lava flows out the far end of the center tube and leaves a cave behind.
There are good spelunking caves throughout Idaho, but some of the most popular can be found in the eastern and south-central areas.
Craters of the Moon National Monument in south-central Idaho has four lava caves. Close to the parking area at the north end of the tunnel is access to the Dew Drop, Boy Scout, Beauty and Indian Tunnel caves. A good flashlight is required for the first three, but Indian Tunnel is illuminated partially by natural light.
Just 45 miles from Craters of the Moon you will find the Shoshone Ice Caves. Bring along warm clothing – the temperature inside always stays around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
The MinnetonkaCave is found in the Targhee-Caribou National Forest close to Idaho Falls. This is a nine-room cave with an amazing display of stalactites and stalagmites. The temperature in this cave is a balmy 40 degrees all year round.
There are caves in Idaho that are suitable for a leisurely outing. Others will require experience and expert rock climbing skills. All can find a way to love it.