Today we departed the Missoula area bound for Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in central Montana. It was a lovely drive passing through Butte and on to Cardwell where we exited and drove along the Jefferson River to the park.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park has 2 visitor centers (one at the entrance and the other a top the hill at the caverns), a 40-site campground, 10 miles of hiking trails, and a limestone cavern that you can tour. One wagon wheel ring of sites had electricity and the others were all dry camping.
Campground: Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
Location: Three Forks, Montana
Site: C001 (back-in)
Services: dry camping (RV dump station on site)
Comments: We loved this area. The site was level and had great views. We were dry camping and it was hot so no a/c for us. We just enjoyed the shade and took our hikes early in the morning.
COVID Awareness: 10 out of 10. Contactless check in. We drove straight to our site. We did not go into either of the Visitor’s Centers or take a tour of the Caverns but all were available (with masks and social distancing).
The campground has a great day use area which looks like it would be ideal for overflow camping. Bluebirds were plentiful and could be see everywhere as could White Pelicans.
The state park is known for its limestone caverns and is supposed to be one the most decorated caverns in the Northwest. There are stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helictites and is naturally air conditioned. There are electrical lights inside the caverns to add to the safety of the tour. The caverns are located on top of a steep hill which has plenty of parking, a few nice viewpoints, a Visitors Center, and a cafe and gift shop. There are 90-minute guided tours of the caverns by reservation only. We decided to drive up the hill to check out the views but did not go on the tour or enter the buildings due to COVID-19 and us trying to be careful. Maybe next time?
The state park has all levels of hiking trails from easy, to moderate, to strenuous. They are all well marked and trail maps are available. You can mix and match to your ability and enjoy the day checking out wildlife, caves, and views. If you are lucky you may even get a up close look at a rattlesnake, like we did!! We are always watching for snakes and this time my husband spotted him on the trail before we got there. The snake rattled and quickly moved off the trail and stayed hidden under the bush only about 1 foot from the trail. We gave him a wide berth and got passed him. Prairie Rattlesnakes try to stay away from you AND we stayed away from him!!
It was a great stay even with the high temperatures. We loved the views and we loved the hiking. Even though campfires were permitted we opted not to have any due to the high heat. We enjoyed this state parked immensely!